SPIGOLON: It looks like many will miss the historic Newton golf course

It looks like Newton County is going to miss The Oaks Golf Course for more reasons than having one less local golf course to play.

The Oaks recently went out of business after 32 years at the corner of Brown Bridge and Crowell Roads at the north end of Porterdale.

Besides being a great place to play, according to its members, it has hosted numerous fundraising tournaments.

Golfers, who are the lifeblood of many nonprofits, have raised literally millions for charities such as Cure Childhood Cancer, which helps find a cure for younger cancer patients; and the Almond J. Turner Foundation, which funds scholarships for deserving Newton County students in need of money for tuition.

The Piedmont Newton Hospital Auxiliary has often hosted his annual Bill Taylor Classic Golf Tournament at The Oaks, which purchases medical equipment needed for areas such as the neonatal intensive care unit. Other groups have raised money for youth sports programs or the BC Crowell Scholarship Fund for high school students in the area.

Many fundraisers have also used the links at Ashton Hill Golf Course.

But Oaks operators Richard and Nancy Schulz have continually opened their route to fundraising tournaments when they might as well have closed it to everyone except paying customers.

Richard Schulz, a native of Chattanooga, was already a veteran of Metro Atlanta golf courses when an investment group formed in the late 1980s and asked him to bring the golf course back to life. historic golf.

He said he saw the course as having a role in the Newton County community beyond just being a place for golf. He informed his other business partners of his plan and they agreed.

“I told the partners… we have to be active in the community,” he said.

The Schulze used funds from The Oaks to help pay for a walking track at Fairview Elementary School.

They have partnered with the Newton County Department of Parks and Recreation on a number of events, including raising initial funds and leading organizational efforts for the Miracle League field at City Pond Park.

“I think it created a good feeling for the community,” said Schulz.

Schulz has worked closely with county officials like former recreation director Tommy Hailey, who retired in 2013 after nearly a quarter of a century as head of the county’s parks and recreation department.

Hailey essentially led her department’s efforts across the county government to create the land for the Miracle League and was honored in 2011 with the I Have a Dream Award from the organizers of the Martin Luther King Jr. Annual Celebration.

Schulz also recalled the good times and bad of recent times as he prepared course equipment and furnishings for a massive auction on Saturday, December 4.

The course was able to accommodate golfers from 48 different countries and all US states during the weeks of The Masters golf tournament in the spring, Schulz said.

“It was like a party,” he said.

Schulz said there were also times the company struggled, such as when it paid off a loan with a 21% interest rate during the height of the Great Recession. He credited his wife, longtime former County Commissioner Nancy Schulz, with being the partner who had the financial means to guide the course through tough economic times.

“If we hadn’t had her as a partner, I’m not sure we would be talking about it today,” he said.

Richard also said a snowstorm in March during The Oaks’ early years in 1993 brought down a forest full of pine trees, he recalls.

The course lost 3,000 pines in the storm “to the stumps and everything,” he said.

Schulz will now work as a golf course consultant after managing courses for decades in Covington and elsewhere in Atlanta.

He said the $ 215 million residential-commercial project planned for the 270-acre site of the course promises to be a “gem” to the area when completed. It will even include a nine-hole golf course – continuing the 90-year tradition of golf played at the same site.

Schulz also said, like many businesses these days, golf course owners are faced with rapidly rising operating costs, from labor to lawn care equipment.

“It’s a very, very slim margin in the golf business,” he said.

Tom Spigolon is editor of The Covington News. Contact him at [email protected]

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