South Street Partners—investing in life’s greatest asset: time.

By Mark Pazdur, Publisher

ACROSS THE SOUTHEAST OF AMERICA: South Street Partners is quickly becoming a powerful force in the golf and private club marketplace. Over the past decade, their portfolio of communities has grown to include Kiawah Island Club, The Cliffs, Residences at Salamander and most recently, Palmetto Bluff.

Started in 2009 by Patrick Melton and Jordan Phillips, alums of both Discovery Land Company and the University of North Carolina, South Street Partners now has $1.3 billion in assets under management, over one million square feet of commercial space, and has over 1,600 employees across their properties spread across six states.

Purposeful Timing

 “Our families all thought we were a little crazy,” smiled Chris Randolph, partner at South Street Partners who joined the firm shortly after it launched and also a Tarheel alum. “We were all leaving great jobs in the world of private equity real estate and development during a significant economic downturn. However, we knew there would be generational buying opportunities as America’s economy was showing green shoots of growth after the Great Recession. Coupled with the fact that many of the country’s fastest growing cities were in our focus region, the Southeast, but there was no lack of distressed assets for sale after what had been a couple of very tough economic years.”

The South Street team, which grew to four partners when Will Culp joined in August of 2012, initially focused on distressed opportunities across all real estate sectors, and did several “one off” transactions, but didn’t transact on any private golf club communities because “the timing wasn’t right based on where we were in the cycle,” said Randolph. That changed the week before Christmas almost a decade ago.

“We received a call from a trusted advisor about an opportunity to acquire Kiawah Partners and their portfolio of properties in South Carolina, Ireland, and St. Kitts,” recalled Randolph. “We worked through the holidays crunching the numbers and quickly realized how compelling the opportunity truly was.”

Since their 2013 acquisition, Kiawah has seen over $3.5 billion in sales and recently hired Beau Welling to design a third private golf course for the Kiawah Island Club. “We could not be more excited to work with Beau and his team to bring another world-class golf experience to our members,” remarked Randolph.

“When we entered the Kiawah/Charleston market, we were definitely the new kids on the block. We listened to existing property owners with open ears, and I credit three factors for our initial success on one of America’s most famous barrier islands,” continued Randolph.

“First, Patrick and Jordan’s experience with Discovery Land Company provided great insight and institutional knowledge of the space. We adopted a very similar mission statement of investing in life’s most important asset—time with family—by providing the best service possible. Second, the concept of ‘I want it now’ was a growing trend. So, we started a homebuilding program that provided a one-stop shop versus buyers having to purchase a homesite, hire an architect, and procure a construction team and do so remotely. We are proud to say we are the largest homebuilding company at Kiawah and The Cliffs, and are also getting the program going at Palmetto Bluff as we speak. Finally, we shifted the focus from a traditional country club dominated by golf to a family-centric club with a variety of amenities and programming that attracts all ages.”

Not a One Trick Pony

 The Cliffs, where single club membership opens the door to seven courses by touted architects Fazio, Nicklaus, Player, Wright, and Jackson, had always been on South Street Partners’ radar. “It was a big development across the Western Carolina mountains with an incredible opportunity. Its golf, mountain, and lake amenities were best in class, but just needed some fresh operational oversight and capital for necessary renovations and new amenities. When the opportunity to purchase the portfolio came back to us in 2018, we looked at it on a discount to replacement basis, plus the quality of the future real estate offerings, and the deal made sense. We carefully analyzed The Cliffs on its own merits, surveyed the surrounding competition and felt we could outperform,” explained Randolph.

“Shortly after closing, we hired Rob Duckett as president of The Cliffs to oversee a new era focused on providing exceptional service and hands-on management from the top down. He has done an incredible job in a very short amount of time.”

A Growing Portfolio

 Palmetto Bluff, a 20,000-acre community located in Bluffton, South Carolina, is the latest addition to South Street Partners’ continued push into luxury private residential club communities and resorts in the Southeast. “As the largest remaining entitled waterfront property on the East Coast, with proper planning, the opportunity for success is profound,” stated Randolph. “Even with recent real estate price increases, demand has remained robust. Its location, wide-ranging amenities, and a 5-star Montage hotel on property add to its mystique. Our smart growth plan that includes a new marina, a 3,100-yard reversible nine-hole course by King-Collins, and a second eighteen-hole championship golf course designed by one of the leading golf architecture firms in the world is in the final planning stages.”

Healthy Future

 “We are well positioned to weather a real estate slowdown,” said Randolph. “As stewards of three iconic golf destinations, our timeline is much longer than a lot of our competition, and we plan for the impact of economic cycles during these longer holds. The established nature of all the properties combined with increased occupancy and utilization of the clubs provides for a very stable base in bull and bear markets.

“Our management philosophy is entrepreneurial, nimble, creative, diligent, and perhaps a bit contrarian. But these traits have produced the loyal and confident following South Street Partners enjoys. We look forward to adding to our collection of properties in the not-too-distant future.”

Where Nature Nurtures Across Sublime Coastal Landscapes

Kiawah Island Club members experience island life in high definition with access to 36 holes of private golf, multiple clubhouses, a golf learning center, and various dining establishments. At the club’s Cassique Boathouse, access is provided to a variety of water equipment to explore surrounding creeks and marshlands. The Sporting Club features a Marty Fischer-designed, 10-station sporting clays course. For more information, please visit

From The Mountains to The Lakes and Everywhere In-Between

Play a different course—and a different kind of course—every day of the week. The Cliffs, an amalgamation of seven Carolina mountain communities, has announced $40 million in new capital investments. For more information, please visit

Beneath the Shelter of Century-Old Live Oaks

The community is big and bold with 20,000 acres and 32 miles of riverfront in its ultimate form. Twice a day, the receding tide reveals the silky beach of the May River Sandbar. Access is by boat only to this little island of perfection, scrubbed clean twice daily by Mother Nature. The appeal of Palmetto Bluff is enhanced by access to a Jack Nicklaus Signature course. For more information, please visit