Local golf enthusiasts have been watching and waiting for signs of spring to bring something special back to the area.
‘I’ve been seeing work going on around the clubhouse,” said wine aficionado, South Wales resident and avid golfer John Hagarty who also noted a new sign heralding the promise of a return to the 18-hole course.
They won’t have to wait long as South Wales Golf Course will be re-opening April 12.
Pro Shop Manager Jimmy Mauro confirmed the news Wednesday morning.
“We’re very excited…this is about the only public course around…we’re getting the word out,” says Mauro who has had a long affiliation with the course. “I worked here off and on for many years as a golf pro…retired from the government…and now in a position to come back.”
Mauro sadly reported that the original owner Ken Thompson passed away just before Christmas of last year. The ownership of the club then went to Thompson’s son Tom Thompson. However, it will be Tom’s son Tyler Thompson that will be the operational manager.
“They decided to reopen it,” says Mauro who said they’ve been doing a lot of work in preparation for their “soft opening” on April 12.
“We’re painting the clubhouse, put in new decking and we’ve added onto the driving range,” says Mauro who is pleased that the course will once again serve the community.
“Everybody’s very excited.”
Back in 2014
After a half century of operation, the South Wales Golf Course in Jeffersonton closed on Sept. 28, 2014. At the time it was uncertain if it would be for the rest of the year or permanently. Turned out it was permanent until early in March of this year when signs of a possible re-opening started to appear.
At that time owner Ken Thompson mused about upgrading the course. He’d also been talking with a developer about that company’s plans for nearby Clevenger’s corner.
Loss for area golfers
According to Hagarty, an avid golfer who lives in the South Wales subdivision across the road from the course, the closing of South Wales was a real tragedy for golfers in Culpeper and Fauquier counties. The picturesque course, considered an affordable place to play, was designed in 1960 by noted golf course architect Ed Ault whose company has created dozens of golf courses in Virginia and beyond.
With its wide fairways, South Wales is not considered difficult. The course attracted a dedicated constituency of golfers who have been coming for a casual, low-stress experience in a quiet, natural setting. Deer and wild turkeys are frequently seen on both the front and back nine.
Working class golfers would often stop by for an afternoon of golf. For the every-day golfer, South Wales kept pricing reasonable with weekday fees generally around $30 and less. The most South Wales charged for a weekend round was $38.
Some high school golf teams have relied on the public course off and on as an alternative place to play. “While it wouldn’t have a direct effect on our team, it would be sad to see it close,” said Kevin Baker, Eastern View High School golf coach.
“For a host of local golfers, this will eliminate a lot of their golf,” Hagarty said.
Citing financial problems, Kastle Greens Golf Club in Midland closed in 2011, leaving Fauquier Springs Country Club as Fauquier County’s only course.
Now there is a happier Hagarty as well as a host of local golfers who can once again grace the greens at South Wales.
“The reopening of South Wales is a gift to area golfers. Nationwide the golf industry is hurting. I hope our local golfers support the club. It would be the best way to thank the owners for their financial investment and faith in the game,” says Hagarty.
“South Wales is noted for its player friendly layout. I have played the course for over 25 years. It’s one of my favorites.”
For the latest information, contact South Wales at 540-937-3250.
Anita Sherman may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org