Great Southern Golf Club using Chapter 11 to find ways to keep course open

Great Southern Golf Club using Chapter 11 to find ways to keep course open
Cree Cantrell lines up a tee shot at the Great Southern Golf Club in Gulfport on Sunday. He says keeping the course open would save a community treasure.

GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - The state’s oldest golf course is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to give directors time to find ways to not only keep the historic course open, but also keep it growing.

The club’s president and those who grew up playing at the historic Great Southern Golf Club say saving the course would also mean saving a community treasure.

Great Southern Golf Club president Ellis Hill is ready for a fight to keep his course alive.

A loan deal fell through at the last minute, and the course was set for foreclosure on July 8. But the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing last week has kept the grounds open for now.

“We’re looking at a lot of plans and formulas that will turn out to be the best for the stockholders and for the club itself,” he said. “So, we don’t have everything in concrete set. There are just a lot of moving parts right now.”

One plan is to sell property not used for the course to develop single-family homes and condos to help pay off the $4 million debt. The club would use homeowners’ association dues to help maintain the property. The board of directors is depending on that development to secure the future of this club.

“It’s very important,” Hill emphasized. “Very important.”

The board has already closed its restaurant. Sunday was its last day. But there’s hope it could be leased in the future.

How did the course get to this point?

“The number one reason was (Hurricane) Katrina, and we just haven’t been able to get the funds to make the improvement that we needed to do to attract the people to come play more frequently and charge them more, quite honestly.”

To Cree Cantrell, this course is like home.

“I really learned to play golf here,” he said. “I’m a newcomer to the game of golf. I started when I was about 25, but I’ve learned and played many of my first rounds out here. It’s been a big part of my business. I take clients, friends, and prospects out here to play all the time. So, it holds a special place in my heart for sure.”

And he asks for community support.

“We’re a resort area, and so having a historic course like this on the Coast is such a great amenity and it’s worth the community getting together to save this place.”

Hill said that the eight-member board of directors is talking to several potential developers, and no plans have been finalized.

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