SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The best comeback in local golf this year did not come on a course, but rather by a course.
“I would say the course was probably a 2 on a scale of 10 a year ago and I would say the course is probably a 7 1/2 to an 8 right now,” Patrick Graham said.
After years of neglect by absentee ownership, Southbridge Golf Club is in the middle of a complete turnaround now that it is owned and operated by those who know it best and love it most. A group of Southbridge residents and members of the surrounding community incorporates to buy the course 10 months ago when faced with the previous owner’s plan.
“His intention was to put the golf course up for sale either as a golf course or a development project. We raised $2.4 million in 90 days. We have 280 shareholders who are shareholders of the common stock in the company.”
That covered the purchase price and $900,000 in operating capital, almost all of which has been invested into the layout to start bringing a once-proud club back to prominence.
“It’d been incredible to see the amount of support. I’ve never seen a golf club that has had this many cheerleaders,” David Wilding said.
“We gave the superintendent the right kind of equipment to work we gave him the right chemical budget to work with. We aerated the greens, we fertilized and everything else.”
The ownership group has been managing the course for a year. Course conditions started really improving this summer.
“We’ve got good greens. We’ve got good fairways. We’ve got good tees.” But the mood around the club has been better from the start. “I think over 60 people volunteered last year to save the club and bring the club back to form. And that’s something we’re going to do and are excited to do it.”
“Everyone in the community who plays golf here, even who don’t play golf have come out here and gone out on the course and picked up limbs, picked up debris. We keep getting a lot of volunteer work.”
And, as that work continues, not just Southbridge but Savannah golf will get back one of their favorite places to play.
“The more and more people come, and they see what we’re doing, the more apt we have been to get them to come back and enjoy their experience.”
“I think people have to give us a try. If you ever played in the past and you were disappointed or if you played in the past and were appreciative, with it, you will be even more appreciative of it now.”