Jones Creek Golf Club has had good times and bad times. Gregg Hemann has seen both sides of the spectrum.
In 1985 the Rees Jones-designed course opened to rave reviews. When Hemann worked at the club as a golf professional from 1990-97, Jones Creek was regularly ranked as one of the top public courses in the state.
But when Hemann returned for a second stint in October of 2001, things had changed.
"It was like being on a sinking ship," Hemann said. "In the back of my mind, I still had the faith that things would work out."
Things have worked out for Hemann, who is now the head golf professional at Jones Creek, which is back in business after a brief closure.
Jones Creek Golf Club grounds'
maintenance man Jorge Ramirez mows the the 17th green. The golf club will close down April 14 for rennovations and plans to reopen in Oct. 1.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
A group of local investors came to the rescue. They purchased Jones Creek at a foreclosure sale in January, and then shut the course down. That decision was prompted by substandard conditions which needed immediate corrective action.
"There's been a lot of cosmetic changes around the clubhouse and some badly needed repairs, but the main focus and the most attention was getting the greens ready," Hemann said. "We wanted to have them in great shape to get us through the spring and through Masters Week, then the plan is to shut down after Masters to totally renovate the golf course."
Jones Creek's renovation will begin on April 14, and the tentative completion date in Oct. 1. The only major course change will be to the greens, which will be converted to Tif Eagle surfaces.
"The old Pencross Bent that we had was not very heat tolerant or drought resistant," Hemann explained. "Tif Eagle is the latest, greatest Bermuda. It thrives in the heat and also provides the optimum putting surface that you get when you're playing on Bent grass."
Under the direction of its previous owner, Fairways International LLC, Jones Creek wasn't bent - it was broken.
The course conditions went steadily downhill, and in the summer of 2001, the club shut its doors to area golfers, switching from semi-private to fully private status.
Fairways International soon found itself in a precarious position. The debt was mounting, and the course certainly was no crown jewel.
The revenue from outside play was eliminated, and disenchanted members also deserted Jones Creek. At the beginning of 2002, the club had approximately 400 members, but by the end of the year, that number dwindled to around 300.
"The majority of those members that dropped out was because of the condition of the course," Hemann said. "The money was not spent on the golf course that was necessary to keep it up."
Jones Creek is now open for public play. The weekday rates are $38, and the weekend rates are $48. Both prices include cart fees.
While the course currently is in good condition, Hemann says you ain't seen nothing yet.
"We want to bring the golf course back to where it was," he said. "When the investors get through with the renovation project planned here, we're going to have a facility we've never had before. It's going to be much nicer than ever."
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