On Saturday Dec. 15, a piece of Russellville’s social life will fade into history.
The Russellville Country Club is closing down and in less than a month, the clubhouse, golf course and swimming pool will all be sold at auction.
“This will be an absolute auction - so it will all be sold that day,” said realtor Mike Riley, who is in charge of the sale.
The cause for the sale was the club’s steadily dwindling membership, which at one time numbered in the hundreds.
“Our membership just got so low that we had to do an assessment and go up on our dues, and when we did that, we lost 27 members,” Russellville Country Club president Harold Ray Johns said. “And we were already down in the 80s and 90s before that.”
The club has been steadily losing members in recent years. It had tried several plans to increase membership, including lower-rates for junior members and corporate memberships - but it wasn’t enough.
After the assessments were levied and the dues increased, the membership dropped into the 60s - and that just wasn’t enough to keep paying for everything that went along with the club.
“Maybe we should have closed the dining room sooner,” Johns said. “It’s a 9,000 square foot building that was built for 300 members. The building has been a big drag on us just for its utilities. And then you always have to keep the golf course up along with that.”
There was a plan to sell the clubhouse building and keep the golf course and pool for the country club, but that didn’t pan out either.
“We thought we had an offer and then it fell through,” Johns said. “That would have been ideal.”
Johns said it will be a sad day when the club closes its doors for the final time.
“It was founded in 1928, so this is awful bad,” Johns said.
The club will remain open to members for the next few weeks, but after the sale - the 80-plus year old golf and social club will cease to be.
“We’ll close it maybe a week prior to the sale,” Johns said. “The members are still there using the card room and playing bridge, and the golf course is still open, of course.”
Riley said the property is being sold in two tracts - one which includes the clubhouse and another that includes the golf course, swimming pool and other grounds.
“It’ll also be offered together - there’s a possibility someone could buy the whole thing,” Riley said. “My job is to get as much money as I can for it.”