In an age that some golf courses struggle for survival, clubs that open provide a ray of sunlight for the game’s future and there’s welcome news emerging from Bamberg.
The former Paw Paw Country Club, which closed in December, has risen from the ashes under a new name – Bamberg Golf & Sports Club – thanks to a group of determined citizens focused “on bringing communities together,” Ronny Maxwell said.
“It’s a regional concept about quality of life,” said Maxwell, who heads South State Bank in Bamberg.
Paw Paw, a Russell Breeden design that opened in 1981, fell victim to declining play. Plans to salvage the course began prior to its closure on Dec. 31. Consultants provided details on expenses and revenue potential, and the new business plan includes adding a full-service restaurant and off-site hunting opportunities.
“We had a lot of people involved and we got this done,” said Maxwell, president of the new club. “We received a good owner-financed package and had good support from our local businesses. We went to work in June and had play on Labor Day Weekend.”
Maintenance equipment has been upgraded and new carts have arrived. Volunteers handled most of the work required to get the course back into playing condition and, Sam Rigby said, “the results are outstanding.”
“We’re fortunate to have the support of so many in the community,” Maxwell said. “We recognize that we need amenities in the area, and this is a way to provide opportunities for people not only from Bamberg, but also from surrounding counties.
“We’re on a tight budget right now, we have four employees. But it’s a zero-balance operation. Every penny goes back into the club. We have people who will provide their expertise in agronomy, equipment and such on our board of directors. We’re excited about the possibilities.”
Although available for play now, the Bamberg Golf & Sports Club will stage its grand opening on Oct. 21, in connection with the Winn Clary Memorial Golf Tournament. A tournament to benefit hurricane victims in November is in the planning stages.
Plans include “programs to reach out to everybody,” Maxwell said. “We want to be sure everyone has an enjoyable experience.”
The South Carolina team of Mary Chandler Bryan (Chapin), Dawn Woodard (Greer) and Lea Venable (Simpsonville) combined to finish ninth in the U.S. Women’s State Team Championship in Santa Fe, N.M. Bryan is the sister of PGA standout Wesley Bryan. … Walter Todd Jr. (Laurens) and Garland Ferrell (Greenville) captured the SCGA Players Four-Ball title at Columbia Country Club, edging the team of Stan Sill (Spartanburg) and Josh McMillan (Boiling Springs) in a playoff. … Cole Ponich (Farmington, Utah) surged from behind to win the Bobby Chapman Junior Invitational at the CC of Spartanburg. Seventy-five players from 21 states competed. … Rich Fray (Lexington) used a 6-iron to ace the189-yard 11th hole at the Spur at Northwoods. His first thought: “How do you lose a ball on the green … until we found it, in the cup.” … Eight players with state connections – Todd White (Spartanburg), Raymond Wooten (Clemson), Thomas Todd III (Laurens), Parker Dudley (Johns Island), Rob Butler (Camden), Brian Quackenbush (Aiken) in addition to former Clemson players John Engler and David May – will be in the field for the U.S. Mid-Amateur that starts Saturday at the Capital City Club in Atlanta.