Jennings Mill Country Club reopens newly renovated golf course

Athens businessman Mark Bell purchased the financially-strapped Jennings Mill Country Club in January.

In July, he closed the 18-hole golf course that operated for more than three decades.

During the intervening two months, new greens were installed, trees removed and new sand filled the pits.

Then on Friday, the golf course reopened.

To signal this new start, Bell walked up to a tee with his driver. He would hit the first ball.

Bell, who expressed some nervousness, whacked the ball straight and long.

“He smoked it,” his brother Russ Bell shouted as the ball rolled faraway on the plush green grass.

Even Bell smiled at the grand tee off.

“It’s time to turn people loose on it,” Mark Bell said as Jennings Mill officially opened its links.

After remarks were made, numerous golfers lined up for a shotgun start for the first round.

“The course does not have a divot on it,” club manager Larry James told the waiting golfers.

The club, surrounded by an upscale residential community in Oconee County near the Athens Perimeter, still needs more decorative landscaping, according to Bell.

But he was “excited” this first day.

Bell thanked the many people who helped make this day possible, including his bankers who financed the approximately $1.7 million deal, and the ground crew that readied the course.

Bell, an Athens businessman whose family began Bell’s Food Store in Athens, started negotiating a purchase of the country club last year when he heard it was “quietly” up for sale.

Follow writer Wayne Ford on Facebook at www.facebook.com/WayneFordABH.