John McDougald stood on the upstairs balcony of the new Mid South clubhouse and soaked in the sensational view across the ninth green.
He offered a tired smile and leaned against the railing.
It was almost as if the Mid South Club general manager was pausing for a moment to let everything sink in.
This was a Friday, and the new clubhouse had opened for business Thursday. It had been a long, demanding day that stretched into a long, demanding night, and McDougald was bordering on exhaustion.
It's just after 2 p.m., but McDougald is yawning.
"I'll be in bed by 6 tonight," he said.
Maybe. But it was doubtful. There are just too many things for a general manager to check out when a new facility of this magnitude opens.
And this is a general manager who leaves nothing to chance -- especially when the project has been more than two years in the making and is changing the face of the property.
Actually, those two years-plus since the Talamore Co. purchased Mid South must seem like a blip in time for long-suffering members who have been around since the acclaimed Arnold Palmer-designed course opened in 1993.
"This is a tremendous change for everyone after spending 13 years in what was meant to be a temporary facility," McDougald said. "You know, it's kind of funny. This course opened in 1993 and here it is 2006 and we're the new club in town."
Despite the 13 years of existence, Mid South really is the new club in town. Visitors who were on the property two years ago and had to make their transactions in the old trailer sitting in the center of a gravel parking lot, couldn't possibly recognize the place now.
"We based the design on need instead of traditional clubhouses," McDougald said. "This is the missing piece of the puzzle and definitely a step in the right direction. It has everything, including a moving glass wall that allows us to have a room large enough to seat 154 people, yet be small when we want to be small. There are several small rooms that allow members to get away from everything.
"We have an elevator, men's and women's locker rooms and a community locker room. We have a room on the third floor for members only that we call the Crow's Nest. And from all three levels, there is a 180-degree view of golf."
There is no restaurant in the clubhouse, but there is a grill room with enough kitchen space to prepare banquets when needed.
"A lot of our members don't live here," McDougald explained, "so we don't feel that we need a full restaurant all the time. We probably have as many kitchens here as any club, and for special events we can go to people who do these things well and have them come to us."
The clubhouse, which McDougald candidly admits "cost about $2 million more than it was budgeted," is the centerpiece, but there are 16 lodges, each containing 1,850 square feet of living space in four buildings that are almost as elegant as the clubhouse.
All but one of those lodges had already sold, the latest one going for $467,000.
"The lodges aren't like time-share units," McDougald said. "They have very livable space and can be used as second homes if the owners like."
Property values aren't the only thing going up at Mid South. The pride factor among members is sky-high.
"We're excited," McDougald said. "This is the first step in revitalizing the community, but it's not the last step. Houses are going up here right and left. We're moving forward to the point where everybody can be proud of what we have, not the potential of it."
The result is a golf course that has been rated among the best in the state since its opening, a clubhouse that leaves nothing to be desired, and views from the clubhouse and lodges that can't be matched in the area. But McDougald makes it clear that Mid South isn't trying to be another Pinehurst Resort.
"We don't want to compete with Pinehurst or Pine Needles," he said. "Those places are experiences within themselves. We want to create our own experience. We're offering incredible amenities for families, but our resort differs in the respect that we want our guests to get out and experience the entire area."
There were no grand opening ceremonies at the clubhouse, just an open-for-business attitude that allowed members and guests to get acquainted.
"We're not shooting off fireworks or jumping up and down and waving our arms and shouting 'See what we have,'" McDougald said. "Obviously, we're offering more than we were when we were in the trailer, but there's a lot more to come, including a swimming pool and tennis complex.
"We're having our annual member-guest tournament in a few weeks and that will be big. We feel that this is a good time to open because it gives us a chance to get rid of the gremlins over the winter."
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