I was sitting in an illustrious banquet room, at a table covered neatly by white cloth. To my left was a game room of sorts, where a group of chirpy women were playing bridge. Ten previous, the newly-renovated clubhouse at Snee Farm Country Club in Mount Pleasant was no more than a “dilapidated, leaky, muggy, smelly and run-down” facility, but none of these adjectives would properly describe the location of my interview with Director of Membership Sally Marschner, Director of Golf Pete Dunham and General Manager Mike Ashton.
The idea of a new clubhouse for the 800-member private club was hatched nine years ago when Marschner was hired to spearhead marketing for the project. Never having visited the old clubhouse, I asked about what changes had been made. When silence followed, I wondered if I had somehow offended my new acquaintances.
“You must have never seen the old clubhouse,” Ashton finally answered with a smile.
He went on to describe a derelict building that would scare most Snee Farm members away rather than serve as a comfortable place where they could get together after work or a day of recreational activities. Invite guests over to relax and enjoy the view of the golf course? Not a chance.
“The old clubhouse had become unusable. There were leaks in the ceiling, the carpets were stained, the AC didn’t work. We didn’t really have a choice,” Ashton lamented.
Ashton hired architect Stephen Russell, contractor SouthCon Building Group and engineers SeamonWhiteside Associates. The team had to put their heads together on the project and work creatively under a budget.
“We worked collaboratively with Mike (Ashton) and the design team on the project to give the club members the clubhouse they deserved,” said SouthCon President Chris Spach.
It wasn’t going to be easy.
The initial plan was to demolish the old clubhouse and rebuild at a new location. But after careful consideration, Ashton and crew deemed that the old clubhouse was in the perfect place, surrounded by the 18th hole, the swimming pool and the tennis courts.
“This new clubhouse ties everything back together,” said Ashton. “It’s a place where everyone wants to convene after a day at the pool, on the golf course or playing tennis.”
I wanted to get a firsthand account of what Snee Farm members thought of the $2-million makeover, so Dunham interrupted Walter Pringle’s practice session and asked him to chat with us.
When I asked Pringle, who joined Snee Farm in 1999, what he thought of the new clubhouse, his eyes rolled to the back of his head as he relaxed in the comfort of his chair.
“I’m amazed, pleased and relieved all at once,” said Pringle. “We’ve always had the best golf course around. Now we can bring our friends and family to the clubhouse, too.”
“Shoot, I must eat at this place four or five times a week,” Pringle boasted, seemingly trying to win over the club directors who were sitting at the table, listening intently.
They all smiled, and I quickly asked, “And what’s your favorite meal?”
“The Ultimate BLT right now, but I still have a few more things to try,” Pringle responded without hesitation.
After a few more minutes discussing events that have been and will be held at the new clubhouse – including the 41st annual Rice Planters Amateur Tournament in June – Ashton spoke directly to me.
“Creating this new clubhouse was a long process,” he said, looking around at the building. “We certainly had our ups and downs in the project, but it is so gratifying to see all of our club members walk around with a smile on their face.”
“There’s just such a positive vibe around here now. Everyone’s happy,” Marschner added with a smile.
Story by Cullen Murray-Kemp