For the last six years Dianne Litchfield and her family have owned and operated Four Seasons Golf Course in Wrens. By the end of this month they plan to have sold off the equipment and walked away.
“We’ve tried to have something nice for the community,” Litchfield said last week. “We just never really could get enough support. Most of our golfers came from other areas.”
The Litchfields bought the 150 acre, 18-hole course at auction in 2008. At that time it had sat vacant for around two years and had suffered from a tornado that toppled trees and spread debris across the course.
“We came over here for the auction when the banks were auctioning it off and ended up buying it,” Litchfield said. “Then everybody started coming to us and wanting us to reopen it as a golf course.”
The family went to work immediately clearing the course, pouring new cart paths, rebuilding greens and in December 2008 opened the course under a previous name, Four Seasons Golf Club.
Since then they have operated as the county’s only public golf course.
“We built a big equipment shed and all new golf carts,” Litchfield said. “We built a big stone retention wall on one hole where it was just an ugly area. Then we had the ice storm and another storm and we’ve had a lot of cleanup after that.”
Despite making constant updates and bringing in live music and catering for their tournaments, Litchfield said that the course never did make money. They never had more than 25 paid members at any one time over the last six years, she said.
“I think it’s that the golf industry is terrible everywhere,” she said. “Everybody says they think it’s going to turn the corner, but courses are dropping all over. There are several in Augusta that have a much larger audience than we do and they don’t have that many coming in these days either. We just decided that we can’t put any more money into it with this lack of support.”
In addition to that downturn, the course was also forced to close 48 days during the last year due to rain and ice.
Through the end of February, weather permitting, the family intends to keep the course open while they do inventories and prepare to sell off all of their equipment and capital assets. They have already listed the property itself with Meybohm Realty.
“I do want to say how much I appreciate our faithful members and everyone who came out to play,” Litchfield said. “I’m not doing this with a happy heart. We really wanted the county to have a public place for golf.
“Our hope always was that somebody would buy it and keep it open for the community as a golf course. That just has not panned out. The City of Wrens has been one of our biggest supporters. They have helped us at every turn. They were a member and they don’t even play golf.”