UPDATED: Local golf: Pine Hill course closes
by Al Muskewitz
Aug 26, 2013 | 10547 views |  0 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Golfers found Pine Hill Country Club closed Monday. (Photo by Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star)
Golfers found Pine Hill Country Club closed Monday. (Photo by Bill Wilson/The Anniston Star)
More than two dozen players showed up for their usual round at Pine Hill Country Club on Monday morning to find a sign on a locked door informing them the course was “closed until further notice.”

“We came to play, but nobody can play,” Oxford resident Rama Vyas said.

It may be a short shuttering. The course's owner, Allan Goodson, said later in the day his goal was to reopen the Choccolocco Valley course as soon as possible, "possibly as early as" Tuesday.

"We are currently working through the details with the management company to get it reopened," Goodson said. "This is not a long term issue. It's short term and we hope it's as quick as tomorrow."

Goodson has owned Pine Hill since 1996 but since January 2010 the course has been operated under a lease-to-own agreement by E&E Golf Management.

The company also managed Talladega Municipal Golf Course. A post on that course’s Facebook page Sunday reported its closing “until further notice,” noting it was no longer under E&E management.

The Daily Home is reporting Talladega city officials were notified of The Rock's closing Sunday. It reported city manager Brian Muenger was reviewing the contract and any action regarding the course's future would be a decision of the city council. The council next meets Sept. 9.

E&E originally was a partnership between Jason Edwards and Cory Etter, the former Pine Hill pro; Etter left in March. The company is now run by the Edwards family.

Since E&E got involved in Pine Hill, the club completed renovations to the restaurant and clubhouse and there have been other renovations to the golf course.

“It saddens me to see the doors shut at Pine Hill,” Etter said. “It’s a beautiful piece of property.”

Multiple efforts to reach Edwards Monday were unsuccessful. Calls placed to phones at Pine Hill and Talladega Municipal Golf Course went unanswered.

Goodson said he would personally supervise the operation in the interim with help of some "trusted relatives and friends that have helped me prior to this and have already stepped forward." He said he planned to stay "as long as it takes" to get things up and running again.

Pine Hill is his only golf property and he said there were "no other plans for the golf course than to keep it at this point in time."

"I've been committed to Pine Hill Country Club for 17 years and remain committed to it," he said.

Golfers were seen playing the course Monday despite its closure. Goodson said he could not answer for those who may show up today looking to play because he doesn't have control of the property.

The lease was still intact. Goodson declined to say how much time remained on the lease, but sources familiar with the the situation said it ran through the end of the month.

He declined to comment on the abrupt way the course was closed. Earlier Monday he said he was "concerned about a note being on the door."

Pine Hill, designed by Bill Scarborough and opened in 1962, is one of eight golf courses in Calhoun County. The others are the city-operated Anniston Municipal and Cane Creek in Anniston, Indian Oaks Golf Club in Saks, Silver Lakes on the Calhoun-Etowah county line, Stoney Brook in Jacksonville, Cider Ridge Golf Club in Oxford and the private Anniston Country Club.

When they discovered Pine Hill closed, Vyas and his threesome played at Stoney Brook.

There had been rumors of a change in the operation of Pine Hill for months, leaving many annual members uncertain to reup their commitments. Those rumors were heightened last month when Edwards, the former greens superintendent at Cider Ridge, assumed a position as superintendent at the Lion Golf Club in Bremen, Ga.

Edwards said at the time of the split with Etter and again in announcing the position at The Lion that things at Pine Hill would remain business as usual.

Meanwhile, longtime members and players at Pine Hill are holding their breath. The club had more than 250 members. It also serves as the home course for the White Plains High School golf team.

“I was very surprised,” Ralph Turner, another course marshal, said Monday. “I worked there Friday and nobody said anything.

“There were about 30-40 people (Monday) and everybody was caught by surprise; nobody was ready for it. I thought it would be something where you’d come in and there’d be somebody new here and they’d say we’ve taken it over. I didn’t think they’d just shut it down.”

The closure also is expected to impact the sprawling real estate development that surrounds the course.

Developer Franz Cobb, who owns a home just off the No. 6 green, said there were 25 homes on the 5-10 acres of outparcels that surround the course.

“If you’re in a fishing community and the lake goes bad, property values go down,” Cobb said. “You know as well as I do that golf course is a diamond in the rough. I hope it doesn’t stay down long. I hope something gets done rather quick.”

Sports Writer Al Muskewitz: 256-235-3577. On Twitter @almusky_star.
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