February 26, 2015
The clubhouse at Bassett Country Club should soon re-open its doors, according to Jim Farrell, executive vice president of The Lester Group.
The Lester Group purchased the country club in November following the club’s closure at the end of September.
Farrell said this week that around April or May, the clubhouse will re-open as a combination community event destination and conference center that will feature everything from wedding receptions and reunions — both staples of the former country club — to corporate training.
After reaching out to the community through the websites for The Lester Group and the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce, Lester officials received suggestions from multiple people regarding how the clubhouse should be re-purposed, and “the overwhelming support went to a conference center/ community event type of operation,” Farrell said.
Right now, he said, The Lester Group is in talks with two organizations that have expressed interest in possibly running the new clubhouse, booking events and serving as “gatekeepers” for the facility. He declined to name them.
Already, he said, The Lester Group is taking calls from people interested in booking events at the clubhouse. Although the plan is to re-open in April or May, “the quicker the better” is Farrell’s mantra.
Since the group purchased the country club in November, he said, it has been performing maintenance to the property, including servicing the main HVAC system at the clubhouse, fixing some gutters and cleaning up overgrown landscaping.
“There was a little bit of deferred maintenance there, so those things are going to be ongoing when the weather’s OK,” he said. “Some of that stuff you can’t do when it’s minus 4 degrees.”
Farrell said he is hopeful that the re-purposed clubhouse will create new jobs and stir economic development and tourism, particularly by drawing business conferences and corporate meetings from outside the area.
“People could meet in the morning, play golf ... perhaps go to the river, go out to Philpott Lake, maybe do a tour of Hamlet Vineyards,” he said. “When you think about it, it really is a neat little piece of property if we can re-purpose it and get the support and the enthusiasm behind it.
The golf course at the country club — which was christened Heritage Golf Club when it opened Nov. 15 — has seen steadily rising business, Farrell said, though there are ideas in place to boost business further.
Farrell said that one challenge has been spreading the word to people that the golf course no longer is private and is open for play to anyone.
One way that The Lester Group plans to improve the golf course’s visibility, he said, is by moving the pro shop from its current location in the lower level of the clubhouse.
“We feel like it’s a little hidden down in the bottom of the clubhouse, so we’re thinking about renovating the existing pool house and turning that into the pro shop,” Farrell said. “We’ll put restrooms in (the pool house), put air conditioning and heating in it, and add some windows.”
However, he added, the group likely will do away with the club’s pool, as upkeep would cost more money than it could generate.
The new arrangement will put the pro shop close to the front tee, he said, and visitors to the country club will have a location near the entrance where they can stop and ask questions about the facility.
“It will just create a whole new synergy with the public,” Farrell said. “We really want the public to know they can go out there and play. We encourage them to play. It’s a great golf course, and it’s well-maintained.”
Farrell said The Lester Group is excited about the country club’s potential and is happy to continue on the legacy of the club, which opened its doors in 1926.
“There’s more to come, and it’s going to get better,” he said.
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