Resort status may hold key to Elm Lake growth

October 19, 2012 11:14:06 AM

Carmen K. Sisson - [email protected]


The Lowndes County Board of Supervisors Monday gave Elm Lake Golf Course officials permission to apply for resort status, a move which, if approved, could allow them to offer services that will no longer be available at Columbus Country Club once East Mississippi Community College takes possession of it next month. 


Gaining resort status is the first step for county businesses that want to apply for a liquor license. It also would allow the golf club to serve alcohol 24 hours a day, including Sundays.  


The club is primarily hoping to pick up extra revenue from corporate and social events, Elm Lake golf professional Joseph Hanko said Thursday. If the resort status is approved in time, he is hoping the club will be able to book a few holiday parties.  


It's a calculated business decision that comes on the heels of the Columbus Country Club's demise. Less than two weeks ago, the country club was auctioned off in bankruptcy court and purchased for $1.6 million by EMCC, which will use the facility to extend its academic programs.  


But although EMCC officials plan to keep the country club available for rentals, corporate training, civic clubs and other community uses, they are not allowed by state law to sell or serve alcohol. Caterers can bring alcohol on the premises for special events, but it must be provided and served by the users, not the college.  


Hanko said he believes Elm Lake can fill the service gap, garnering more rentals and more members. Membership, holding steady at 120, is up from where it was a few years ago, but experienced a slight dip this year. Members pay a base membership of $165 a month.  


The broader alcohol regulations will make the golf course an attractive option for Country Club members looking for a new place to play, Hanko said, praising its central location and "fast" course.  


District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks plays there at least twice a month, and he said he supports their bid for resort status, even though it will allow them to sell liquor less than 750 feet from his church, Oak Grove Missionary Baptist.  


If Elm Lake is granted resort status, the next step will be to apply for a liquor license from the Mississippi Tax Commission's Office of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Hanko said the license may cost as much as $1,000.

Carmen K. Sisson is the former news editor at The Dispatch.