1940s - 1954

Tatum Surf and sky club

tatum surf club, collins avenue palm beach


Tatum Wofford from Palm Beach operated the Tatum Surf Club, a beach, swim and water ski club in Florida. (Pictured above. The club was located on Collins Avenue, this structure today is part of the Four Points by Sheraton.)

Mr. Tatum envisioned a similar resort in the mountains of Western North Carolina and acquired the Sapphire Valley area in 1946.

Four Points by Sheraton

tatum surf club palm beach

Tatum Sky Club was born and the plans included an air strip, ice rink, and new cabins built around the valley.

There are many stories about how the Tatum Sky Club developed and how the old Fairfield Inn was used – one story alleges that the Sky Club was actually a ‘gentlemen’s’ club, but the details may very well be lost to history.

Mr Gene Howerdd, Sr. Founder of modern Sapphire Valley, acquired the property in 1954

Tatum Sky Club


The tatum sky club air field

The airfield used by the Tatum Sky Club was later used as the driving range for the Sapphire Valley Inn and Country Club. Even during the early days of the Sapphire Valley Inn and Country Club many planes buzzed the range to clear the strip for landing. 

In this image, guest arrive by plane and are taken over the to the Sapphire Valley Inn, aka Fairfield Inn.

Only after some pine trees got a little too tall did a small plane clip the trees and wound up belly up on the 18th green. No one was hurt but the air field was closed.