Rediscovering a Johnston Country classic

By DAVID DROSCHAK

The 75th anniversary of the Country Club of Johnston County was met with little fanfare in 2011.

The Smithfield club was in the process of being sold, a search was on for a new general manager and membership had dipped to alarming lows. In short, the 1936 Ellis Maples classic was at a crossroads.

And when 14 owners – a majority of them members and locals – stepped in and bought the private equity club it was unclear which direction the historic golf course was headed.

But local pride can formulate a strong bond, and the ownership team, along with new general manager Chris McDonald, weren’t about to let CCJC become another victim of golf’s corporate conglomerate.

“Those 14 individuals decided they wanted to keep the club with its home-grown roots and within the community,” McDonald said. “They were all pretty much born and raised here in Johnston County and their idea was to not give it up to a management company.”

A decision was reached to abandon the private club model and become semi-private, and to launch a unique membership drive to bolster the club’s golfing numbers and financial status. Plans are to return the CCJC to private club status in the future,” McDonald said.

“The owners did something that I was a little leery of at first with the dues structure this year that was $250 a month, including carts,” McDonald said. “But that has definitely helped increase the membership, picking up 30-35 members right away.

“The pitch always comes back to the product,” he added. “If you have a product people want you can sell it. If you have a mediocre product then it’s that much harder to sell. Once people came out and saw what we were offering, $250 a month with carts included, and then saw the product we had to offer they fell in love with the place.”

And CCJC has quite an informal pitch man. PGA Tour pro Neal Lancaster, born and raised in Johnston County, practices and plays here on a regular basis, residing a pitching wedge away on scenic Holt Lake.

“Anytime you have a PGA Tour player associated with a club it can’t do anything but help the club marketing-wise,” said McDonald, noting that the club has produced a number of top players through the years, including 2009 North Carolina Amateur champion Mark McMillen.

“I’ve played at the course since I was 15 years old,” Lancaster said. “The new owners are really looking after the golf course now and getting a lot of membership play. Things have really taken off … they even had to get some more carts recently.”

While CCJC has a pool, tennis courts and a traditional ballroom in its white brick clubhouse, the Maples golf course is the main draw. The Hall of Fame architect learned his design style from the legendary Donald Ross, working with the lay of the land to produce everlasting routing.

The Country Club of Johnston County is vintage Maples, routing holes from high point-to-high point while implementing doglegs for strategic value. And while not long by today’s standards at 6,573 yards, the course is “sneaky difficult” with sloping greens that require accurate iron play throughout.

“It is definitely a shot-maker’s course,” McDonald said. “Ellis Maples was a real tactician.”

“It’s a golf course that is playable, and fun to play every day,” added 68-year-old Bob Borsos, who joined the club in 1977 after moving to the area from Milwaukee. “The greens are unusual for this area; they have a lot of undulation. When you look at the course there are some subtleties out there that make it great. You don’t bomb it off of every tee because if you do you’re in trouble, you’re off in the woods or in a pond or someplace other than where you want to be.”

CCJC is a golf course you could play in three hours, with a walk between green and next tee sometimes as little as 5 yards. Maples also crafted a series of par-3s that play to four different distances – 205, 170, 184 and 217 – meaning players use their entire bag here.

“It’s very similar to a Donald Ross golf course,” Lancaster said. “The greens have some of the old-style undulation where newer greens have more tiers to them. The greens here actually have a lot more break than most of the greens we play on Tour. You have to drive it straight and it takes a little bit of local knowledge to score well.”

Golf rounds in North Carolina are up 11 percent in 2012, thanks in part to a warmer-than-normal winter, but CCJC’s rebirth has the club exceeding those numbers, and McDonald may have found his dream job despite a commute from the Sandhills that exceeds three hours each day.

“I wasn’t sure what to think when I first got here,” McDonald said. “I did know that they had a good product and a good golf course and a good architect. Ellis Maples is pretty big in the Sandhills. I knew once the golf course was in good shape then I was 50 percent there. The other 50 percent of increasing the membership and getting the membership back has finally come around. Our member-guest last year had 23 teams; this year we had 42 teams.

“The whole ownership has been very supportive to do what I needed to get done so we could get the property on the right track.”

McDonald likes to spread the credit around for the club’s turnaround, noting that golf pro Tony Keeton has a tremendous following when it comes to lessons and offers custom club-fitting on-site for golfers of all ages and abilities, using state of the art equipment such as a Flightscope X2 Launch Monitor and high-speed video. A comprehensive junior program is also in the works.

“In reality you don’t see many of these small town country clubs anymore,” McDonald said. “Golf is more corporate now, but there is also a niche out there for places like the Country Club of Johnston County. It’s a throwback. This is the place to be.”

Comments (1,588)

 

  1. セリーヌ ピロー スモール 2wayショルダーバッグ

    http://klausjanschuetz.com/worth/?p=celine-ミニ-バッグ.htmlセリーヌ ホリゾンタル カバ トートバッグ

  2. las vegas christian louboutin boutique

    celine leopard sneakers

  3. Fake Mcm Backpack For Sale

    birmingham mcm 2014

  4. wildstar platinums

    But guess what happens I gives it all back more meant designed for the purpose of? A top notch tale. Nightmare, Appraisal run staying pneumatically-driven chested bustier babydoll babydoll livingston in a long player vs player combat frames per second…

  5. FFXIV Gil says:

    FFXIV Gil

    Allow me to say specifically start in this concluded seeing as I have an issue for your health. Proven, Throughout Newfoundland as an example, They will be in need of 15,000 new persons except you might 32,000 anyone without a job at the moment. So why…

  6. zentai suits for sale

    I have a simple dream which would be to own a sort of field in Sanya(A city in Hainan land, PRC). I will build a house and of cause a swimming. A lot of guest rooms so my friends have lodging when they come by. We can wear it a number of shows, Whether…

  7. Mcm Handbags says:

    Mcm Handbags

    cheap nike air max.com

  8. http://www.avillagecluster.com

    8air jordan 29BqXjordan11GoZpantone 11FtWjordan ultimate gift of flightAoXJordan XX9GrZAir Jordan XX9EsXjordan ultimate gift of flightDoWXX9sEsYjordan 11DrUAir Jordan XX9CtYjordan retro 11AtZjordan ultimate gift of flightGpXjordan 11 pantoneGtVjordan u…

  9. air jordan 7 bordeaux replica

    NEW YORK (BUSINESS WIRE) May 24, 2001Janet Cook has been named General Manager, Estee Lauder, North America North America, third largest continent (1990 est. pop. 365,000,000), c.9,400,000 sq mi (24,346,000 sq km), the northern of the two continents of…

  10. adult video says:

    adult video

    porn video adult video adult video adult video porn video porn video porn video porn video adult video porn video porn video porn video adult video adult video porn video adult video

  11. cyber monday hollister kids

    Dans la droite lign茅e des petits sketchs satiriques r茅alis茅s par Robot Chicken durant sa conf茅rence vid茅o lors de l’E3 2014, Nintendo emprunte une nouvelle fois la voie d’une (.)Lire la suite.Un concours Mario Kart 8 pour remporter Super Smash Bros.…

  12. shoes louboutin shoe

    christian louboutin new york saks

  13. black christian louboutin pigalle pumps

    christian louboutin cheap on sales.net

  14. diablo 3 gold guide

    2048 specific one is specially extreme the particular perfectly dependent, Because it’s very free and are able to be took part in a internet browser. The reasoning is not rocket science: Decrease by using numbers floor ceramic flooring, Via the precis…

  15. montre hermes prix

    BBC 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

  16. alviero martini prima classe tracolla

    Walsh DM, Klyubin I, Fadeeva JV, Cullen WK, Anwyl R, Wolfe MS, Rowan MJ, Selkoe DJ (2002) Naturally secreted oligomers of amyloid beta protein potently inhibit hippocampal long term potentiation in vivo. Nature 416:535 539

  17. cheap wildstar gold

    8:41 Dammit. Currently i have to play the very first extremely Mario siblings. Wouldn’t it adversity the great XII to put a few worry pads at a negative balance region? 8:40 a fact is certainly looking at a pick up, Tx technology profits a good affect…

  18. http://www.centraltexasclassicchevyclub.org

    5north face super saturday sale BIt north face cyber weekend sale BNp

  19. christian louboutin glitter platform pump

    men christian louboutin replica

  20. Extremely Cheap Ugg Boots

    nike air max motor

  21. christian louboutin miami phone number

    free buy goods christian louboutin shoes men

  22. FFXIV Gil says:

    FFXIV Gil

    Shoot the particular spew give and therefore strainer clean up those methodically a gentle with laundry detergent clea or white white wine vinegar. Might destroy microbes and aroma and accomplishing this become served to on the employing a small, Small…

  23. porn video says:

    porn video

    adult video adult video porn video adult video porn video adult video adult video adult video porn video adult video porn video adult video porn video adult video adult video adult video

  24. wow guides says:

    wow guides

    One particular PlayStations have in addition established over-priced to deliver, Mainly due to complicated, Build-your-own silicon. Located inside of 1999, The cpu since layouts nick at the PS2 used 239 and 279 rectangular mm in exterior, Respectively,…

  25. mcm london backpack price

    Get The Maximum Benefits

FIFA 14 Coins,FIFA Coins,FIFA 14 Coins,FIFA Coins,Replica Handbags,Replica Bags,Sexy Lingerie,Cheap Sexy Lingerie,FIFA 14 Coins,FIFA Coins,Wedding Dresses,Evening Dresses,Tattoo Supplies,Tattoo Kits,Iphone 5s case,Ipad air case,Wedding Dresses,Evening Dresses,Fashion Shoes,Fashion Clothing,Wedding Dresses,Evening Dresses