The Greer Golf & Country Club
PGA Tour Pro Mike Souchak played the opening ceremonial round at the new Greer Country Club. “Well, fellows,” he exclaimed, “you have yourself a championship course.”
Dr. Ralph Brown remembers it as the “roughest nine holes in the country.” He says, “One day a week we picked up rocks. Bobby Williams, W.E. Harvey, and I were assigned the fourth hole. We cleaned up the course that way.”
In 1955 a group of local businessmen built the nine-hole golf course on Gap Creek Road on the old Bright homestead. Knowing that many clubs of the day were exclusive to members only, the founders offered golf to the public also. Green fees were quite affordable at $6.00. The old two-story house became the clubhouse, and Jim Riggins was hired as the manager/pro.
When the club opened, golfers rolled their own bags in hand-carts. Young boys, eager to pick up spending money, would caddy. On one occasion, the country club had invited other clubs to participate in a tournament. The Greenville County Champion arrived and was approached by one of the boys who asked him if he needed a caddy. “Do you know this course?” the golfer asked. “No, sir,” replied the caddy, “but the holes are numbered.”
One of those early caddies was Albert “Prunell” Kelley. Kelley has been a fixture at the club since its beginnings, starting as a caddy, then working as groundskeeper, and enjoying a round of golf himself as an associated member. Although retired and no longer playing golf, Kelley still enjoys working part-time in the summers.
received his nickname as a kid. He began as a caddy at the age of 8 at the Shores Brook Club in Spartanburg. “I was so little. The bag was bigger than me,” he says. One of the golfers looked at this small boy holding a big bag of clubs and shouted, “Come here, Pruny.” Kelley says that the name stuck.
About seven years after opening, the club directors purchased additional land and added the last 9 holes a few years later. In 1970 builder Joe Smith erected a new club house beside the swimming pool. Tennis courts were built where the cart shed is today, and an irrigation system was later installed, using water from Apalache Lake. A restaurant replaced the snack stand in 1988, and manager Martha Corbin has been cooking breakfast and lunch since.
Lady golfers were active from the beginning. Hannah Beason organized Ladies Day on Tuesdays. Golfer Gwen Johnson, who has golfed at the club many years, says there were many good female golfers. “We need some new young girls now,” she notes.
When asked about any one famous starting on the course, old-timers Fletcher Vaughn and Harold Boyter remember Tommy “Lefty” Mullinax, who played either hand. Lefty started playing as a barefoot boy, tagging along with his father. Mullinax was great with the trick shots and toured for Dunlop. Fletcher says, “Nobody was like him around here. He would drop the ball from his mouth, let it bounce, and hit it. Why he could knock the ball through a phone book!”
As Dr. Brown observes, “It’s a fun course.” The Par 72 course is rated mountain hilly with its downhill lines favoring shot makers over power hitters. Today there are 393 members, but the course and restaurant are still open to the public. Since the good ole days the cousre annually plays 32,000 rounds each year.
On March 9, 2009 the old clubhouse was razed. A new clubhouse designed by architect Jason Smith and built by Craig and Jack Ticknor of CMT builders sits on the hillside and covers the site of the old pool. Beside it is a new pool and pool house. Designed with porches on all sides, the clubhouse offers golfers and guests a grand mountain view. The clubhouse with three levels has the prop shop, offices, dining area, kitchen, and women’s area on the main level. Downstairs are the men’s lockers and facilities; upstairs is a future conference room to be completed. Restaurant manager Martha Corbin loves the new kitchen facilities and hopes to cater for special occasions in the dining area, Martha now cooks a wonderful Sunday lunch and a Thursday night dinner.
Even if you don’t golf, you should drop by to see the beautiful new facility. Sit a spell and ask one of the old-timers about golf. Fletcher Vaughn is 92 and remembers a lot about the early days, but don’t get there too late or you’ll miss him. He’ll be on the course “hittin’ my age” or under.
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