Closed to members for two days. That doesn’t sound like an idea that would generate compliments, but for Wedgefield Country Club that’s what happened.
Mitch Thompkins and family members are managing and helping to operate the club a few miles north of Georgetown off U.S. Highway 701.
Early on Friday, Sept. 6, Thompkins posted on the club’s Facebook page:
“Due to the large number of Santee Linemen in our area helping to restore power, we will be closed in order to feed them. Thank you for your support and we plan to be open on Sunday for buffet lunch! We hope you are all well and safe! Thank you!”
That closure of the Manor House was just a couple of days, and plenty of members expressed thanks and support for the deed well done.
Wedgefield and many people were without power for hours and. in some cases several days, from the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
While this wasn’t exactly what Thompkins and members had planned to do to celebrate the first anniversary of reopening the country club, it generated much good feeling.
Some comments posted on Facebook:
Pat Tiani Geiger — Mitch Tompkins you are a wonderful person. My grandfather worked for the power company in Pittsburgh for 44 years. I know the kind of sacrifice these people make. We appreciate all that you do for us especially during storms!
Linda Grim Maxwell — We love Wedgefield and all the wonderful people in it! Thank you, Mitch, and the many who came from miles away to assist us once again!
Amanda Vail Ridgeway — Wonderful thing to do Mitch Thompkins & Jamie W Thompkins!
Keitha Kessler-Cobb — What a wonderful gesture the lineman did a excellent job in a short period of time under extreme circumstances. Thankful to all.
On the Sept. 9, Thompkins posted this: “Good morning folks. Many of you have asked to contribute for the food that we fed the linemen Friday. That bill is covered. Please don’t bring any money to the pro shop. Thank you all so much for your kind gestures of giving. We may need it again at a later date. Mitch
Since June 2016, Wedgefield Country Club was closed for more than two years. Residents of Wedgefield wanted the golf course and other amenities to reopen but no buyer came forward. The greens and fairways were overgrown. Some Wedgefield residents would voluntarily cut grass to help.
Georgetown County’s economic development director Brian Tucker spoke to a crowd on June 1, 2017, about the possibility that the county could buy the club’s amenities. Tucker said such a purchase was possible, but added that the county would rather the property be bought and operated by a private business or individual.
Not much later, Harry Karetas and his wife Vonnie from North Myrtle Beach happened to be driving through the neighborhood as they were considering purchasing a second home. Karetas saw a sign that the club and its amenity operations were for sale. He and Mitch Thompkins met and had several conversations. Ultimately, Karetas purchased the club operations and Thompkins and his family agreed to operate it.
Over time, the golf course has been given new life, as have the Manor House, pool and tennis courts. In Sept. 2018, the country club opened again for play and dining.
“We know how proud Georgetonians are of where they live,” Thompkins said. “I grew up here and know how important it is to have unique places to call our own. Wedgefield Country Club definitely does that.”
The championship, public 18-hole golf course has had a complete maintenance upgrade, Thompkins said, while preserving the natural settings of the former rice plantation. As part of the anniversary celebration, for a limited time players enjoyed the challenging Porter Gibson course for $1 per hole, cart included. Thompkins hopes to continue to be a favorite spot for golfers, as well as to encourage future golfers by keeping the course family-friendly.
The Santee linemen enjoyed the food at the Manor House while they were working to bring power back to residents. Chef Matt Branham leads the Manor House in offering a variety of food options including steaks, seafood, Southern buffet and sandwiches. Lunch is served Tuesday through Friday 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.; dinner on Thursday and Fridays nights 5-8 p.m. and Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. A list of menus is available on their website: https://www.wedgefieldcountryclub.com/
Tee times can be booked directly from the website or by calling the Pro Shop at 843-546-8587.
“Having something for everyone is our goal,” Thompkins said. “We want to be the place the whole family can enjoy, from golf to swimming to dining.”
The Manor House and other amenities are also available for weddings, reunions, corporate events and more, Thompkins said.
“We are thrilled with the support we have received from the community in the past year and look forward to continuing to grow and expand to meet the expectations of our patrons. While visitors are important to our business, our main focus is to serve the residents of Georgetown and remain their favorite for years to come,” Thompkins said.
Volunteer support essential
“We’re so appreciative of all the volunteers who worked the pool this year,” Thompkins said. “It pretty much operated with all volunteers. That was a big help in saving money.”
From early August through November, except for Thanksgiving weekend, the club has something every weekend.
“I knew when I started this that it was going to be a job, all day every day almost.”
“There’s a verse in the Bible that says, do all you do for the Lord,” Thompkins said.
“I want to make sure it’s right. The members have been very supportive. A lot of them pay their dues ahead to help keep things going.”
‘I had a volunteer to cut grass for me a couple of days a week. One guy volunteers in the pro shop, who won’t let me pay him.”
“Many volunteers say they will do everything they can to make this thing work,” Thompkins said. “There are 11 businesses who have corporate sponsorships.”
“We had 30 inches of rain last October and November,” he said, “so money we had set aside for sand traps had to go to payroll.” From that, “Forty-six people sponsored sand traps at $250 each. Some of these people don’t even play golf but still wanted to support us by sponsoring sand traps.”