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Course would be the third state-funded course in Mississippi

Commission could soon release bonds for Hugh White golf course

GRENADA — After more than seven years of waiting, working and hoping for a golf course at Hugh White State Park, the City of Grenada may soon have its wish.

According to John Sewell, spokesman for the governor’s office, the governor is supportive of the project and plans to issue the $5 million in bonds needed for the project after the Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks (DWFP) passes a resolution as required by House Bill 668. And Rep. Donny Ryals (D-Grenada) said it was recently indicated to him by Gov. Ronnie Musgrove and other members of the bond commission that, if at all possible, ground would be broken for a golf course in Grenada sometime next year.

If the DWFP did pass a resolution to fund a golf course in Grenada it would be the third city to receive state funding for a golf course. The other two cities are McComb and Sardis, both of which already have their courses.

In anticipation of a go ahead for a golf course, the City of Grenada has already dedicated $750,000 to the course, $500,000 of which will be used in $100,000 per year increments over a five-year period to support the course until it is self-sufficient. The other $250,000 will be used to supplement the cost of construction. In the meantime, Grenada is working with the DWFP to prove that the course would be able to support itself.

“I think we’re getting close to the end of it,” said Mark Grimes, co-chairman of the Grenada Golf Task Force. “The city and county have been supportive. Now we’re in the process of getting money for it.”

Walter McCool, general manager of the Hampton Inn Grenada, said a golf course at Hugh White State Park would be a huge economic boom for the area.

“I think it will be a real boom for Grenada for the tourism industry and it would also be a help for the corporate industry,” McCool said.

Brandi Brown, executive director of the Grenada Tourism Commission, said outdoor recreation is the No. 1 attraction for Grenada, with more than 2 million visitors to Grenada Lake alone every year.

“This will give them another aspect of the outdoors to enjoy,” Brown said of the golf course.

Grimes said he sees no negative points that would come as a result of building a golf course at the park. All the environmental details have already been approved for a golf course at Hugh White State Park, he said.

But in a survey done by the National Golf Association (NGA), it was indicated that there would not be enough support for a golf course in Grenada. Ryals said that is what has caused the holdup.

“The whole basis for all of us getting off on the wrong foot, including the governor’s office, was putting too much faith in that survey,” Grimes said.

That NGA survey, Grimes said, did not take into account the more than 2 million people who visit Grenada Lake annually. It only took into account the number of people living in Grenada and the surrounding areas.

“The survey has to be taken with a grain of salt,” Grimes said. “I’ll cut a digit off my hand for every year it loses money.”

If built, the golf course would be the second golf course in Grenada. The other is the course at Grenada Golf Club. Support for a state park course is still widespread even with Grenada Golf Club, however.

“The golf club is for members only and not available all the time for people,” McCool said. “So the new golf course will be a real help for us.”

Anyway, Grimes noted that the course at Grenada Golf Club isn’t built on 400 beautiful acres of land and surrounded by hardwoods and pine. In fact, Grimes said even the members of the golf club are excited about another course in Grenada.

“They’d like to play another course,” he said.

Ryals said $5 million isn’t too much to ask for to build the golf course.

“We paid $5 million to asphalt the state’s parking lots,” he said.

Ryals acknowledged that there have been some stumbles along the way, but, “If it gets done it will be the gem of public golf courses in the State of Mississippi. This golf course will make the state parks go up five notches on everybody’s scale. The state has built two (golf courses) and to me those were learning lessons.”

Grenada Mayor Mike Hyneman said, “If (the state) can build museums and restrooms, certainly a golf course is a good investment to me. All we’re asking is that the state put some of our money back into the community and in North Mississippi. We have a lot to offer. We just look forward to moving on with it. I think it’ll be a great thing not only for Grenada and north Mississippi but for the state as a whole.”

Contact MBJ staff writer Elizabeth Kirkland at ekirkland@msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1042.

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