Royal Pines History
Prior to his retirement from the Army in the late 1960’s, Lieutenant Colonel and Mrs. Walter Rodgers had given a great deal of thought to establishing a residential area that would have an attraction for retiring military personnel. This was a period of time when a large number of the WW II and Korean War veterans would be retiring from the military. Naturally, Colonel Rodgers being a native of Beaufort first thought of establishing such a community in this area. Unsure of how the Beaufort area could compete with Hilton Head he suggested to many of his colleagues that they first check out Hilton Head. Quite a few did and some bought lots there. Many more did not because it was evident that home prices and the cost of living were, and would continue to be, considerably higher than those north of the Broad River. In addition, the Beaufort area had the added attractions of the military commissary and other facilities at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, the Marine Corps Air Station and the close proximity of the Naval Hospital. There was also the close proximity of Savannah and Charleston, the weather and a large number of military retirees as potential neighbors.
Based on the positive response of many of their fellow retirees Royal Pines Country Club Estates was incorporated in October 1969 by the Rodgers and Mrs. Rodgers’ brother, Andrew Martin. The property (some 700 acres) was large enough to accommodate an 18 hole golf course, 456 home sites, a club house and related facilities. The deal went forward despite much naysaying from friends and observers who thought the area useful
“only to alligators, snakes and growers of pine trees and water melons”. As has been the case of most of the successful developers in our county, the Rodgers had the vision to see the future potential of the area and the courage to take the risk associated with the development.
The initial sales program was strictly on a personal basis with no big advertising effort behind it. Mrs. Edie Rodgers recalls an initial solicitation program which consisted of an address book and a manual typewriter on a kitchen table. Many of those who responded to the invitation to visit the new development liked what they saw, made the decision to stay and told others about it. Thus the word spread and in spite of the fact that initially there was only a pine forest, no roads and no commercial water the sales effort was so successful that Edie and Walt were able to take title to the tract without a mortgage! Later they would use the same approach to acquire and develop the Marsh course and its 251 residential lots. Colonel Rodgers designed and generally oversaw construction of both the Pines and later, the Marsh golf courses.
Lot selection took place in the spring of 1970, the clubhouse was started that fall, the course was planted in the spring of 1971 with the grand opening of the clubhouse taking place in the spring of 1972. The first Royal Pines Country Club Estates buyers were Colonel and Mrs. George Baucom followed shortly thereafter, as an investor, by General William Westmoreland. Among the first residents were Brigadier General and Mrs. Frank Linnell, Mr. and Mrs. Bob Keller, Major General and Mrs. Mickey Finn, Colonel and Mrs. Art Rich, Major General and Mrs. Jack Chiles and Mr. and Mrs. Lad Howell.
In 1975 a number of outside interests considered buying the entire Royal Pines complex from the Rodgers; the most prominent was Arnold Palmer. Palmer’s agents later stated that his investment program was not then ready for such a purchase. He would invest in Beaufort County several years later.
In 1978 the Rodgers sold all of their Royal Pines interest to a Louisiana corporation, Universal Engineering of Maplewood, owned by Toney Trumps (father of LIBPA members Matt Trumps and Christi Trumps). The current Tideland Realty building on Lady’s Island, just over the Woods Memorial Bridge, first opened its doors in 1969 as Tideland Development Corporation – the development arm of Royal Pines Country Club throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Blanche & Toney Trumps were the owners of Tideland into the 1990s when ownership went to their children, Matt and Christi. After the sale of Royal Pines Country Club, the undeveloped land remained with the Trumps family. One of the larger original parcels, adjacent to Royal Pines on the corner of Thomas Sumter and Sam’s Point Road, is presently being developed as St. James Place (named for James “Toney” Trumps).
Over the years there would be other owners and other names for the golf course. With the passage of time the roads were paved, street signs and street lights installed and commercial water made available. By 1991 there were 238 occupied homes and the community no longer had a majority of the military residents. At that time the military (active or retired) represented approximately 25% of the community.
Today, Royal Pines is a vibrant, well established community of over 600 homes. Although there are still a few undeveloped lots, for the most part, the community is built out. The mature Long-Needled Pines and Live Oaks add to the character of the neighborhood. The Royal Pines Homeowners Association oversees the planning of neighborhood activities and covenant enforcement.
The quality and success of the Royal Pines community is a tribute to the vision and leadership of Colonel and Mrs. Rodgers. In 1996 Mrs. Edie Rodgers would again contribute to Lady’s Island when she was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives for District 124. She would serve three terms in this capacity and today is known for her exceptional service to the community.