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Eagle Ridge Golf Course popular with students, business people and snowbirds

Hinds Community College, golf a winning twosome

RAYMOND – The Eagle Ridge Golf Course built back in the 1950s is a unique asset for Hinds Community College (HCC). In addition to providing a free place for the school`s golf team to practice, the course is an added attraction to groups holding meetings at the Eagle Ridge Conference Center.

“It certainly adds to the outside environment that complements the conference center,” said Dr. John Woods, director of training for the college`s Eagle Ridge Conference Center. “The golf course is, obviously, an amenity which we use in our advertising and marketing. We do have some groups who come here for training or other utilization of the Eagle Ridge Conference Center who use the golf course while here. We have the Raymond Lake between the conference center and the golf course that is also a big attraction. There is fishing by permission only by guests of Eagle Ridge. It is not a public lake. That is another amenity for the conference center.”

Woods said the conference center and golf course compliment each other. Groups come to Eagle Ridge for lunch, dinner and/or fundraising events. A game of golf rounds out the day nicely.

Bryan S. Johnson, head golf coach and head athletic trainer, said the golf course and the driving range are definitely assets for students, including those who are on the golf team.

“We have a lighted driving range so we can practice at night,” Johnson said. “A lot of places, they can only practice in the daytime. Our driving range is open until 9:30 at night. You can have a good bit more practice time for the golf team. We also teach some beginning golf courses at the community college. It is a two-hour course. We always fill up our golf courses and our walking classes. But some would rather golf than walk around the course for two miles every morning.”

There are 13 junior colleges with golf teams, but only two – HCC and Co-Lin Community College – have their own golf course.

The golf course is self-supporting, which means the taxpayers don`t have to subsidize the amenity. Anthony Price, head golf professional at Eagle Ridge Golf Course, said being self-sufficient is particularly valuable in these times of tight budgets for state colleges.

Profits from the golf course are used to improve the facilities.

“The golf course is profitable, but we keep putting money back into it to make it better for the college and the golfers themselves,” Price said. “Just like any other business, golf has its up and down cycles. But right now the course is in very good condition. Where a golf course is considered, you are never finished whether improving the type of grass or expanding tee boxes.

“There is always something to be done to repair and enhance the course. It is a continual process and one that takes many years to develop. I have been here 20 years, and it has come a long way in those 20 years. The school has recognized what an asset it is, and has put money back into it. It really is a great place. It is an asset for the college.”

Snowbirds also enjoy the course.

“We have people who come in from up north during the winter,” Price said. “And a lot of local people kind of call it home. It has rolling hills, elevated greens, and it`s sort of what you might call an old-style course. It is demanding in some ways, but it is a lot of fun to play.”

The golf course is also used for college fundraising activities. The HCC Golf Fund Fun Fest is set for its 17th year of raising funds for the HCC Development Foundation. Sponsors of the Fun Fest that will be held April 22 include Valley Services, Dixie Advertising and CDE Integrated Systems. Funds are used to boost contributions to student scholarships, for faculty and staff development, and for other activities at the college.

“Our company is proud to partner with Hinds because of the excellent educational value it provides,” said Keith Ferguson, president of Dixie Advertising. “A strong part of our mission is to be a good corporate citizen and to support those who are helping others.”

CDE Integrated Systems Inc. has sponsored the Golf Fest for many years.

“We enjoy participating in the great scholarship program Hinds offers young people in the community,” said Bob Shearer, CDE company president. “The staff at Hinds does an excellent job with the tournament and assisting students who want to continue their education.”

Jackie Granberry, HCC vice president of Institutional Advancement, said the success of this tournament can be credited to the companies and people who have stepped forward to serve as major sponsors.

“These sponsors set the tone for others to participate with this event, and they are the foundation on which the tournament has built a great reputation,” she said.

George Ardelean, Valley Services vice president for sales and marketing, said, the camaraderie, the spirit of the Hinds staff, and all the service partners make the Golf Fest remarkable.

Other major sponsorships are still available, including Clubhouse ($3,000), Putting Green ($2,000), and Corporate Team ($800, morning; $1,000, afternoon). All of these include tournament players, tee box sign, cart and green fee, continental breakfast, lunch and dinner prepared by the college`s French chef, Christian Amelot, at the home of HCC president Dr. Clyde Muse and his wife Vashti.

Businesses can also sign up to be hole sponsors, which includes a company sign on a tee box and dinner for two.

The four-person scramble tournament offers individuals the opportunity to golf in the morning for $125 or in the afternoon for $175. Individual donations include cart and green fees, continental breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Returning again this year will be the “floating green,” an opportunity for golfers to earn cash by placing the ball on the green in the Muses’ lake. A hole-in-one wins $250.

For more information on the Golf Fund Fun Fest, call the HCC Institutional Advancement Office at (601) 857-3363.

Contact MBJ contributing writer Becky Gillette at bgillette@bellsouth.net.

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