Stonebridge Golf Club's rebirth sparks golfing memories | Community Spirit
Joe Birch is an anchor for Action News 5 at 5 p.m., 6 p.m., and 10 p.m. This is a special interest article he wrote for the community websites on wmctv.com called Your Neighborhood.
Once upon a time, I aspired to golfing glory.
Our regular foursome from Action News 5 would tee it up on Saturday mornings at legendary Mid-South golf courses such as Edmund Orgill Golf Club in Millington, Holiday Golf Club in Olive Branch or Stonebridge Golf Club in Lakeland.
My pals and I were weekend warriors, classic hacks of the first order. We’d have to finish conversations that started on a tee box at the green. There was little opportunity for communication on the fairways as we were rarely on those. More than likely, we’d be hunting errant shots in some woods to the right or along some deathly treacherous watery hazard to the left.
While our golf rose to the heights of mediocrity, the company was splendid and often, hilarious. Once we watched a fellow hack playing a hole immediately ahead of us knock three or four shots in a row into a lake, a la Tin Cup. The frustrated player unhitched his golf bag from his cart and with a running start, gave his clubs a mighty heave-ho into the same body of water. We were on the ground, rolling in laughter.
After composing ourselves and taking our next shots, the player with anger management issues returned, waded into the water, retrieved his golf bag, located his car keys, removed them from the bag and returned his clubs to their watery grave. Back to the turf we returned in stitches!
Just as Larry Mize was winning the Masters, we all started having children and became responsible adults much to the astonishment of everyone. Golf took a hiatus for the most part.
But now the kids are graduating from college! Tee times are back in the realm of possibility. Holiday Golf Club has long since given way to warehouses but Orgill and Stonebridge remain alive and well and “The Bridge,” our fond nickname for the course in Lakeland, has local owners and new life.
Eric Howard, Stonebridge Golf Club Director of Sales and Marketing, invites you back to the east Shelby County tract for lots of good reasons. The last two years of refurbishing with a nearly $1 million dollar price tag include Champion Dwarf Bermuda Greens with fresh undulations.
“Whereas before the bent grass greens would burn up in the excessive heat of Memphis summers and suffered from a mix of several types of grasses, “Howard said.
The new Stonebridge has greens that have three to four foot wide collars of 419 Bermuda grass designed to collect errant shots, exactly the kind of shots this would-be Lauren Roberts is prone to produce.
"This allows the average golfer at least a shot of chipping or putting for that birdie or par,” Howard said.
A new irrigation system—heads, valves, and pipes around the greens—along with a “RainBird” command center in the maintenance building make certain good golf will be available at “The Bridge” all summer long no matter how hot Dave Brown says it’s going to get.
Stonebridge has entered the cutting edge in watering the course as Howard says the superintendent can activate his sprinklers by handheld radio or via the computer command system, gauging water usage every step of the way. There’s new drainage and an improved 25 station driving range. Major improvements have been made to the clubhouse. In short, Stonebridge is reborn. A ribbon cutting for the grand re-opening will be held later this month.
A pair of brothers-in-law is responsible for the turn around. Mark Lovell is a noted Memphis entrepreneur as owner of the Delta Fair, Mid-South Boat Show and Hunting and Fishing Shows at the Agri-Center. His brother-in-law is Robert Mears, a retired MLG&W man with a construction background. The two joined forces to create Golf Nation, LLC, the company that now owns Stonebridge.
Even with all these spectacular improvements, my golf game remains highly suspect. I’m fairly certain that Stonebridge is the course where I’ve launched golf balls that literally have ended up in Music City, USA. See, a couple holes on Stonebridge’s challenging back nine parallel Interstate 40. I imagine some of my tee shots have sliced through the trees, bounced on the interstate pavement and landed in the bed some good old boy’s pick-up truck as he’s eastbound on I-40.
If you drive to Nashville and find an alien golf ball in your vehicle, know that I’m enjoying the new and improved environs of Stonebridge Golf Club and my pals and I are making new memories at "The Bridge".