Golf club gets a fresh start

(Editor's note: A previous version of the story incorrectly said F&M Bank would be giving Mike Hooker the golf course deed.)

Mount Vintage Plantation Golf Club is officially under new ownership, and director of golf Ryan Mulvey said things are better.

The club off Sweetwater Road near U.S. Highway 25 in Edgefield County hovered on the brink of closing in 2010, and Mulvey said the course that had once played host to LPGA events had fallen into disrepair.

"It came down to where there wasn't money to even keep up the grounds," he said. Last August, Mike Hooker stepped in and bought the deeds from Mount Vintage Development Co. LLC, making him the new mortgagee. Today, he will receive the deed and officially become the new owner.

"It's a delightful community, and we're very proud of the golf course," Hooker said.

Hooker became interested in the fate of the course when things started to turn sour around May 2010. He and his wife, Barbara, have been residents of Mount Vintage Plantation since 2003, and he said he hated to see the golf course go under.

Having worked for Whirlpool around the world for more than 30 years, he felt he had the business experience to make a go of it and worked out the feasibility of the project with Mount Vintage's chief financial officer, Gregg Karlberg. It looked promising, so Hooker and his wife formed Plantation Alliance LLC and became the new mortgagee.

Plantation Alliance invested more than $1 million into the golf course over the past 10 months, and Hooker and Mulvey say the results are noticeable.

The 27-hole course designed by Tom Jackson currently plays host to Hooters Tour events. Mulvey said the course is a good fit for golfers of any level, and the club is recruiting golfers to join.

Hooker said that in the past, Mount Vintage had not been as friendly to nonresident members as it could have been. That's one of the biggest changes he wants to implement.

"A member is a member is a member," he said.

Mulvey said Mount Vintage is more than just a place to play golf.

"It's like a big family," he said. "It's a cool thing to be a part of."