The Great Southern Golf Club has filed for bankruptcy and will close its restaurant, the board president announced in a press release Wednesday.
The move will allow the club to restructure its $4 million in debt that has accumulated since Hurricane Katrina, when the waterfront course was destroyed, said Great Southern Board President Ellis Hill.
“We were very close to completing a loan with a lender last week, but the lender changed the terms of the loan at the very end which could have resulted in the out-of-town lender owning the property,” said Hill.
“Although the golf club has been cash flow positive so far this year, we have not been in a position to pay the debt service nor pay a Promissory Note due that was secured by a Deed of Trust for the 129 acres.”
The Sun Herald reported in 2017 the club was considering selling part of the 130-acre property to a someone who wanted to build a housing development.
Ellis said Wednesday the Board plans to sell the part of the property not used for the golf course to build condos and single-family homes so the profit could be used to pay down the debt, then improve the course, then possibly pay stockholders. An estimated $1 million would be needed to improve the course, he said.
The club also will close its restaurant, “which has not been profitable,” said Hill. But the Board is searching for a tenant to lease the restaurant space. The Pro Shop will continue to sell snacks and beverages.
The course dates back to 1908 when a nine-hole course designed by Donald Ross, a famed designer of the era, was built at the site for guests at the Great Southern Hotel in downtown Gulfport, according to the club’s website. It sits on land once owned by Confederate States of America President Jefferson Davis. Bert Jones built the original clubhouse and the course was named the Great Southern Golf and Country Club in 1910.
In 1921, the club, then owned by the Stewart family, bought land north of the railroad tracks to expand the course to 18 holes. That expansion, designed by Donald Ross, was finished the next year. In the 1940s, Sam Sneed, Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan played the course on a southeastern states tour. In 1962, the Stewarts sold it to Mrs. Joe W. Brown. It became the Broadwater Sea Course and was part of the Broadwater Hotel Resort in Biloxi.
The President Casino bought the resort in the early 1990s but sold the course to local stockholders in 1993, when it became the Great Southern Golf Club.
Hurricane Katrina destroyed the clubhouse, which was replaced by the present clubhouse, which opened in 2013.