For the club, first opened in 1967, it may have been. Griffin Country Club will “close its doors and cease operations on or before Jan. 1, 2013,” said Club President Michael Hornung, explaining, “after 11th hour negotiations between the secured creditor(s) and the Griffin Country Club Inc. failed to come to mutual terms.”
United Bank and First National Bank, Hornung said, “have done everything they can do to help us. They’ve been darn good to us.”
But United Bank will be foreclosing on a $1.1 million loan, he said.
“It’s going on the courthouse steps the first Tuesday of next month,” Hornung said.
Due to the New Year’s Holiday, foreclosure auctions, usually on first Tuesday, will be on Wednesday, Jan. 2.
The investors of a possible workout plan, Hornung said, “noted the low (depressed) and declining demographic numbers in the Griffin-Spalding market, lack of community support and minimal positive growth projected in the next five years for the Griffin-Spalding area as major concerns.”
He said were two viable plans, and “one of them may end up buying it. One of the conditions with United Bank is they keep it a golf course.”
The closing of this 45-year business marks the end to a bygone era in the area, Hornung said. “As many small businesses during the economic crisis, the Griffin Country Club has seen a 40 percent to 45 percent reduction in income and membership from 2008 to 2012.”
He said it was inevitable.
“One of the biggest weaknesses was marketing,” Hornung said. “You can’t run on good-old-boy network anymore, not in an economic downturn.”
He said in a country club setting, there were bad business deals, the board kept changing, there was never any unified management structure. “For the last four years we ran it like a business.”
He said when he took over, the club was taking a $20,000 loss each month, “but it was too little to late.” He said the club had turned around, making at least $2,000 to $6,000 a month, but had a bad August, losing $22,000 and didn’t have membership dues to cover the losses anymore.
Membership was down to 218 members, with only about 35 percent of residents around the course as members.
“There was lack of community support,” he said,
“I hate to quit,” Hornung said, “but I just can’t get it done by the end of the year. We have good solid people, we fought the good fight.”
Hornung lives off first hole on the course and had moved down from McDonough with hopes of retiring here. “I hate to see it go. We had a good run. I am so sad for my people.”
The closing, he said, “leaves 32 full- and part-time employees looking for work in a very soft job market.”
The current management will continue to run daily operations in order to be able to close down in good order with all employees and vendors being paid before the closing, Hornung said. The club will honor all existing contracts and events for the month of December, he said.
“Please come out, if the weather permits, to enjoy a round of golf on this beautiful championship course during the month of December,” Hornung said.
“The current Board of Directors of GCC,” he said, “thanks to all the present and past employees that have made the Griffin Country Club a community within a community. Their loyal and steadfast support of the club has been a key element for many years.”