So it is with the Gilmer Country Club.
The club, founded around 1946 as an economic development tool and with a limited number of members, described as “one of Upshur County’s best-kept secrets,” is now reaching out and expanding to better serve the community.
“We want to utilize the facility not just as a service to members, but to the community as well,” said Steve Williams, the club’s president. He said it contributes “a very viable role” in economic development.
“We have good schools, a good hospital, and good churches, but to attract business, you need a country club,” he said.
“The original group (which founded the Country Club) thought that such an institution would be advantageous to attract business people, and for economic development,” said Williams.
Over the years, he said, bylaws have only been changed a few times. Originally, membership was limited to 150, each represented by one share of stock. This could represent a family or individual, Williams said.
A feature of the golf course then was putting greens with green sand. Rollers were used to smooth the path to a cup.
“The 9-hole golf course has always been a part of the Country Club,” Williams said.
The original clubhouse was a frame structure south of the present location. It became a site for socials, such as share dances.
A swimming pool and tennis courts were added.
Sometime in the 1950s, that building was replaced with one that was located where the present one is. In 2004, that one burned due to an early morning lightning strike, and the present clubhouse was constructed.
“It has several upgrades,” Williams said, including the kitchen, recreation room, and men’s and women’s locker rooms.
Membership grew, when about 250 associate members were allowed to join the 150 original (sustaining) members.
The current building has a “nice-sized dining room, but not an event room” like the previous one did, Williams said.
He said that the Gilmer Country Club has been affected by the poor U.S. economy over the past years.
“Over the last several years, we’ve had declining membership and rising costs,” he said. “We are now taking a little different direction.”
He said they plan to use the facility “to reach as many as we can in various ways.”
High school golf and tennis teams use the facilities.
He said the organization recently changed its bylaws.
Now, anyone in Upshur County can access the golf course by paying the green fees.
The bar and grill is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday (closed Monday), and is open until 8 p.m., and they hope to attract more visitors.
“We have a new chef, Brandon Franks,” he said. Franks prepares plates that are not only a delight to the taste buds, but appeal to the eyes, too.
Breakfast is available all day, and you can dine there in the evening on Fridays and Saturdays.
A Sunday lunch buffet will include their special omelets.
“Interest is picking up” in the restaurant, Williams said.
“We offer, breakfast, lunch and dinner in a very pleasant atmosphere.”
Chef Franks said that “everything is made fresh. Nothing is from a boiling bag.”
Prices are very competititive for fine dining, Williams said.
Williams said that catering by the club’s restaurant is available. They also would like to host service club meetings.
He said that they hope that those who try the restaurant and/or the golf course will decide to become members of the club.
“We have extremely good rates,” and they want to add more associate members, Williams said.
He said associate members may join for $90 a month in dues. “We have a lot to offer,” he said.
For more information, call the club at 903-734-4125, or call Williams at 903-841-2604.