Gadsden golf course closes after nearly 80 years | News
GADSDEN, AL (WBRC)- The last round has apparently been played at an 80 year old golf course in Gadsden.
Members of River Trace Golf Club were notified their lease would not be renewed and they'd be required to vacate the premises quickly. The last day of play was New Year's Eve, and members have until January 14 to empty their lockers and haul away their golf carts.
Originally built by Goodyear workers and the company in the early 1930s, Goodyear owned the course, and put its name on it, until members bought it in 1998. At that time, Goodyear had planned to close its East Gadsden plant next door to the golf course, but that decision was later reversed.
The property on which the renamed River Trace Golf Club sat, was purchased by Grissom Properties at a bankruptcy auction. They sold the front portion of the property--the first nine holes of the course--to Blackwater Development, in a deal that was finalized December 28th, hence the quick notice. Blackwater plans a retail development for the site.
"You really want to know?" asked Jack Minshew, a member of 49 years, when asked for his reaction.
"It really ticked me off the way things went down and the way it started, and the way it ended up."
Minshew said he first caddied at the course as far back as the early 1950s, when he stopped to do so while delivering papers for the Birmingham News. He became a full time member in 1963 after going to work at Goodyear.
"It was a sad thing to see this come to an end, because there was a lot of people who grew up here," said Kerry Lee Johnson, a member for 40 years.
Johnson and Minshew both recalled the many activities that went on in the clubhouse, built by the Goodyear corporation while workers paid for the course itself.
The rubberworkers union held a large Christmas party every year, where children were able to visit Santa and leave with a toy and a bag of candy. Children also went on Easter egg hunts on the 18th green. Tournament luncheons and company festivities also took place in the clubhouse.
Because the property line between Blackwater's newly purchased property and the portion kept by the Grissom family actually runs through the clubhouse, members say it's likely the clubhouse will need to be demolished.
Members say on the last day of play, one player got a hole in one.
Now, members are hauling away golf carts and emptying the clubhouse of trophy cases and even Santa's chair from the old Christmas parties.
"It was a sad thing to see this come to an end, because there was a lot of people who grew up here," says Johnson.
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