Lion Hills: EMCC takes over Country Club

November 1, 2012 10:05:49 AM



It's official. The transfer of the Columbus County Club to East Mississippi Community College took place today at 12 a.m. After toiling more than a year in bankruptcy, the country club was sold to EMCC for $1.6 million during an auction Oct. 5. 


EMCC President Dr. Rick Young and other school officials recently met with club members to discuss its future as Lion Hills Golf Club. 


"We want to turn this into something you'll be proud to be a part of," Young told club members. 


The property will be used to expand the school's Mayhew campus. Its culinary arts and hotel-restaurant management programs will relocate to Lion Hills in August 2013, along with a new recreational and golf turf management program and the EMCC golf team. 


EMCC Golden Triangle campus vice president Dr. Paul Miller said the $1.6 million the college paid for the Columbus Country Club not only allowed them to acquire 150 acres of professionally-landscaped property, it also saved money. He noted that a 20,000-square-foot building would cost far more than $1.6 million to build in today's economy. 


"This will free up some much-needed space at the Golden Triangle campus, where hotel-restaurant management and culinary arts are currently located, while preventing the closure of a Columbus business that has served this community for a very long time," Miller said. 


EMCC officials previously announced plans to retain the club's kitchen staff, and the current groundskeeping staff will continue its duties while partnering with turf management students and faculty to provide opportunities for hands-on learning. 


Miller said retaining current employees will ensure existing services -- such as hosting civic meetings, banquets, wedding receptions, seminars and other events currently on the calendar -- continue without interruption at Lion Hills. And its status as the EMCC golf team's home course will bring more golf tournaments to Columbus. 


Access to the golf course will remain open to patrons and the public. New features will include the construction of a driving range and leasing a fleet of brand-new, custom golf carts, as well as repairs to course bunkers and the irrigation system, Miller said. 


"Flexible pricing packages allow fees to be paid on an annual, quarterly or per-use basis," Miller said. "Prices on annual and quarterly packages have been reduced, and further discounts are available to EMCC alumni, current students, active-duty military and EMCC employees. 


The restaurant will soon open to the public, with service that includes Friday and Saturday dinner and Sunday brunch, Miller said. 


Custom facilities will be built or renovated for the academic programs. The one-year certificate culinary arts program and two-year, associate degree hotel-restaurant management program will be housed adjacent to the kitchen in the main building. The new, Mississippi Community College Board-approved recreational and golf turf management program will be housed in a new building on property adjacent to the golf course.