A brand new challenge

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 2, 2006

For the last few months, playing a round of golf at Ocmulgee Golf Course became more of a task than a pleasure.

Rex Bible is planning to change that.

Bible, who is the owner and builder of the Ravine Golf Course in Demopolis, has recently purchased the Ocmulgee Golf Course after it was foreclosed on by the Marion Bank and Trust.

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“I knew Mr. Bud Burns many years ago and I knew that (Ocmulgee) was for sale,” Bible said. “But I couldn’t come up with enough money to buy it. It finally worked out where I could get it through.”

Bible had help from a Los Angeles-based investor named John Hung.

The course was purchased and renamed Valley Grande Golf Club. Hung served as the primary investor and Bible will run the facility.

“It has a fantastic layout and is a great golf course,” Bible said. “It just needs some tender loving care.”

Changing the name was the easy part, though.

The course that Bible purchased looked more like a nature trail and less like 18-holes.

“It’s a lot worse than I thought it was,” Bible said. “I knew that it was in bad shape, but I didn’t know how bad of shape it was in. Now we’ve got the water turned on and are watering everything heavily. We’re ready to go and ready to start putting it together.”

Bible, who has experience building golf courses from the ground up since 1960, has a simple game plan for the new Valley Grande Golf Club.

“We’ve got to get the greens back,” Bible said. “That’s our first priority. Then we’ll go from the greens to the fairway to the tees and then renovate the bunkers. Some of them are going to be grass bunkers and some are going to become sand bunkers.”

Bible plans that within a year, a new clubhouse will be added to the course.

Right now, the course is open for play, but according to Bible, it’s going to take two to three months before the greens are back.

“It will take a year to get the golf course in shape as a whole,” Bible said. “There’s just too much work to be done and not enough people or hours in the day to get it done.”

Developing the golf course could be vital to the Valley Grande area. Right now, with the exception of the Selma Country Club, which is a member-only clubhouse and course, Valley Grande Golf Club is the only 18-hole course in the area. In Selma, the course at Craig Field has nine holes.

This could be a real estate opportunity for the community of Valley Grande as well.

“I think it just goes hand in hand,” Bible said. “We’re already getting a lot of calls about that very thing. The people that are coming by the course and are playing are very excited about it.”

Bible has the course up and running right now and is giving people an opportunity to come out and play 18 holes and see how the course has improved in just a short amount of time.

“For the next couple of weeks you can play 18 holes for $20,” said Bible. “That’s only going to be for three or four weeks until these greens come around.”

But, Bible says not to worry when he gets the course up and running.

“We’re going to stay reasonable until we can get it back in good shape, and get people back playing it,” Bible said. “Selma needs this golf course in this area.”

– Griffin Pritchard appears courtesy of the Selma Times-Journal.