PLAQUEMINE, Louisiana — The only golf course in this little town approximately 15 miles south of Baton Rouge has been given a fresh lease on life thanks to a grassroots effort.
Local officials gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the reopening of the facility, which had been in operation in Plaquemine for more than 20 years before it was shut down in April 2020 because to the COVID-19 epidemic.
The event marked the culmination of homeowners’ efforts to reopen the country club’s golf course and other attractions just in time for springtime festivities.
After A. Wilbert & Sons sold the facility to Bultra Properties in fall 2020, it took the help of The Island neighborhood homeowners to get things moving.
According to Bill Greenfield, president of The Island Homeowners Association, Bultra decided against reopening the golf course.
The residents of the neighborhood were not ready to leave their golf clubs behind.
“We got together a group of folks who were interested, and we came to the conclusion that we could open ourselves if we could receive more money from our homeowners association,” he explained.
The idea was put to a vote by the Island Homeowners Association, and it received support from 75% of the association’s members.
They raised homeowner association dues, reached an agreement with Bultra, and opened the pool and golf course in June 2021.
Greenfield, a Luling native who relocated to Plaquemine in 2018, remarked, “We had to crawl before we could walk.” “We didn’t have any revenue yet, and we didn’t have the funds to keep it going.”
When paying for an annual membership in advance, the association provided members one month free. It helped put money in the bank for facility improvements, he said.
“It was going to be a big price,” he remarked, “adding sand for the sand traps and replacing some of the traps.” “We were trying to get it to the point where we could open, but we didn’t want to start the course with something that wasn’t quite right.”
During the downtime, the facility never went into ruin.
The Wilberts took care of the facility’s upkeep and hired groundskeepers for seven months to keep the course cut and in condition.
Following the Wilberts’ acquisition, Bultra resumed the work.
“When we took over, they had it for about a year,” Greenfield said. “They continued to assist us in many aspects until we were able to get our feet on the ground when we opened the course, so we’re grateful to Wilberts for keeping up the grass cutting until they sold it, and to Bultra for keeping it up until we could open the course.”
Other efforts aided in the restoration of golf course activities. To reopen the restaurant, Brent Barbier acquired a lease.
He stated, “I don’t think we’d be where we are today if the restaurant wasn’t open.” “We complement one other and aim to help each other,” said the group.
All community members and non-community members are welcome to use the pool, but non-community members must register at the pro shop. Non-community members are welcome to visit during the summer.
The Island’s residents took a hands-on approach to reopening the golf course, according to Greenfield.
“Various members here will announce work parties to work on the sand traps, scatter sand in one location, or trim weeds,” he said. “We have a lot of volunteers, and some of them trim grass and help in other ways – and many of them work full-time.”
One of the main concerns expressed by many homeowners was what would happen to the land if it remained undeveloped.
“Talking with the new owners, they bought it as an investment and had ideas for what they wanted to accomplish,” Greenfield said. “But they worked with us and we wouldn’t have been able to do this without their significant assistance.” “Right now, we’re in a slump due to the winter, but we still get a lot of play and could be more successful next year.”
“I believe the homeowners like their time here,” he remarked.
Other obstacles remain, like the need to replenish the greens, which have a limited lifespan.
The equipment needed to keep the greens in good shape is also costly, according to Greenfield. “Now we’re expanding, and a seventh file for a new area of neighborhoods has just begun.” Currently, ten houses are being built, which can only strengthen us.”
Aside from Baton Rouge, the loss of golf courses in Brusly and St. Francisville leaves little options.
He stated, “None of them are profitable operations.” “We have an opportunity for folks on the Westside, but there aren’t as many people in this area, so we’ll have to keep marketing.”
The golf course’s operation will be fraught with difficulties, but he believes the homeowner association is up to the task.
One homeowner’s sentiments summed up why the efforts are worthwhile, according to Greenfield.
“One person told me he was tired of seeing so many things depart Plaquemine that he remembered from his childhood,” he added. “Everyone who lives here has a vested interest in it remaining here.”