New owner of Prince George golf course plans improvements
By BLAKE BELDEN
Jan 4, 2014, 11:49
The Prince George Golf Club has a new owner.(BLAKE BELDEN/HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT)
PRINCE GEORGE — Gazing down the long, green fairway lined with coniferous trees and splashed with golden sunlight, Rick Bealert beamed in anticipation for the re-opening of the Prince George Golf Club.
The golf course will re-open for business under new ownership this week, as a result of the course being put up for auction after the previous owner filed for bankruptcy in February of 2013, said Bealert, the new general manager and head professional at the Prince George Golf Club.
George Emerson Jr., the founder of Emerson Construction and owner of the Highlands Golf Club in Chesterfield, purchased the Prince George Golf Club with the intention of revamping the course and bringing a positive atmosphere to the community.
After buying the golf course, Emerson called upon Bealert, who was working at the Jordan Point Golf Club, and asked him to run the new golf course and help turn the property around, an offer which Bealert said he was absolutely interested in taking.
"This golf course has been in trouble for a long time, and we want to get out of that. We want people to come out here and enjoy themselves, and come back and play [more] golf. We want this to be an enjoyable atmosphere," Bealert said.
Bealert said he has an extensive history with golf courses, where he most recently served more than 10 years as the general manager and professional at the Jordan Point Golf Club and three years before that as the head golf professional at the River's Bend Golf Club in Chester.
Although Emerson didn't close on the Prince George course until within the past couple of weeks, they have been doing maintenance on the course since the first week in December, renovations and repairs that include fertilizing the grass, punching the greens, cutting down trees and edging and cleaning out the sand bunkers.
"These [bunkers] were full of grass. They were terrible. ... This is stuff that has probably never been done out here that's been done in the past four weeks," Bealert said.
Bealert commended the efforts of the maintenance crews who have helped in the restructuring process of the golf course, where the superintendent from the Highlands Club helped begin the renovations and a new superintendent from the private Foundry Golf Club, located in Powhatan, will take on the continuing role of maintaining the Prince George Golf Club.
"You can have the best golf pro in the world and the prettiest clubhouse, but if you don't have a golf course to go with it, you might as well shut the door, close up and call it quits," Bealert said.
Unlike other more difficult golf courses in the surrounding area, Bealert said that the Prince George course, located at 8399 Golf Course Drive, offers a simplicity that doesn't exclude certain classes of golfers.
"The average person loves Prince George because they can come out and have a good time because they're going to find their golf ball. It's not hard to walk, and it's [flat]. It's right there in front of you," Bealert said.
As far as the clubhouse goes, Bealert said they have installed a new roof, completely repainted the interior and are planning to implement a completely new and updated computer system to ensure customer convenience and fast inventory, which he hoped to be installed by Monday.
A snack shop will also be included at the clubhouse, with hot dogs, refreshments, candy bars and beer once they get a license in a few months, Bealert added.
The 18-hole golf course will be a daily fee public course, with the option for a yearly membership, $700 for seniors (60 years and up) or $800 for others. Memberships do not include cart fees, which will be $14, Bealert said.
In addition to Bealert's professional presence on the golf course, he said that Tom Dougherty, an 81-year-old PGA retiree from Chester, will also be available to give free lessons and advice for beginning golfers.
By March, Bealert said they will have 50 brand new Yamaha gasoline-powered golf carts, with 20 operable carts currently.
Eventually, Bealert plans to bring numerous tournaments, leagues, ladies associations, men's associations, senior leagues and catered lunches and dinners to the course.