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|Calvert Crossing, Pine Hills merge|
Members of Pine Hills Country Club and Calvert Crossing Country Club can now play both courses following the merger of the two golf clubs this week.
Todd Perry, John Mark Wilhite, Steve Murray and David Manuel are the partners who now own both clubs.
Pine Hills was established in 1974 and has been a favorite of many local golfers since it opened. Calvert Crossing opened more recently, in 2001, but quickly garnered hundreds of members. There are about 400 members in each club.
John Smith purchased Pine Hills in 1998. On Wednesday morning, he smiled and said he was officially the former owner.
"But he's the first official member of both (clubs)," Perry added.
Both Smith and Perry believe the merger of the two clubs will have many benefits for its members, who now can play either course whenever they desire.
Pine Hills is an 18-hole course that features 6,823 yards of golf for a par of 72.
Calvert Crossing is nearly identical with 18-holes and 6,822 yards of golf for a par of 72.
"These are about the closest two golf courses can be without being side by side," Perry said. "We've got two great golf courses here."
"John (Smith) has gotten Pine Hills in such great shape," Perry continued. "The ownership of both facilities has worked hard to keep both in great shape. And, the feedback we've gotten from the members has been very positive. They're excited to have two (courses) to play under one membership."
Around March, Perry and Smith began talking about how they could make each club stronger. That's when the idea to merge the two clubs came to light.
"We thought it would be neat to form a 36-hole club because there's not one in northeast Louisiana," Perry said. "That's a pretty rare bird even throughout the country because less than two percent (of clubs) in the country are 36-hole golf courses."
Smith added, "The introduction of dual membership is unique to northeast Louisiana, and as time goes on, I think it will be appreciated by all of the members as well as prospective members."
Several meetings among existing members and the owners will be held later this month to discuss the merger. If any name change occurs at either club, the members will have the ability to vote on it, Perry said.
"We want to preserve the tradition of both clubs, and the members will get to decide on any name change," Perry said.
Before the merger, Perry said it would cost a person about $300 to be a member of both clubs, but now members will be able to golf at both courses for under $200 a month.
Starting Wednesday, membership fees were an initiation fee of $250, then $185 a month.
"That's a heck of a deal," Perry said.
Also, by having two courses available, whenever a tournament is played at one, the members could use the other golf course. That way local golfers will not have to wait until the tournament ends if they want to play, Perry said.
Smith believes by bringing the two clubs under one ownership, both facilities will be made better. He said some people may think that one ownership for two clubs may be too much to handle, causing both to decline. He believes that will not happen, and he expects both clubs will grow stronger with more members and more improvements over the years.