Golfers will have to wait until around the end of the year before they can play the Refuge, the 18-hole public course in Flowood.
“The golf course is pretty much in shape. It’s just being able to get parking and the pro shop, and all of that is not done yet,” said Mayor Gary Rhoads.
The course closed more than two years ago for renovations. The city also brought on a MCC Real Estate Group, a private contractor out of New Orleans, to build the new Refuge Hotel and Conference Center there.
Course renovations are costing a little more than $2 million and was paid for by the city of Flowood. The hotel and convention center carry a $70 million price tag, which is being funded privately, Rhoads said.
The course has been ready to play for months and was slated to be reopened along with the hotel in September.
However, construction on the 200-room hotel and 54,000-square-foot convention center was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rhoads said.
“Dealing with the virus, we had shut down for a week or two because the contractors got it,” he said. “It’s been hit and miss, and it’s drawn out longer than expected.
Rhoads said the golf course is not being opened, in part, because there’s nowhere for golfers to park as long as construction is ongoing.
Also, the pro shop, the 19th Hole restaurant and the locker rooms, which will be located on the south side of the hotel, will not open until hotel construction is completed, he said.
“We still have a construction site. It’s coming together fairly quickly,” he said. “I still think it’s going to open sometime in November.”
No events had been booked at the center at press time. Rhoads expected dates wouldn’t be firmed up until early next year.
Previously, the project had been delayed by the unusually wet weather.
Rhoads told the Sun previously that golfers will find the improvements at the Airport Road course worth the wait.
“We actually opened up the course a good bit, changed the greens to the latest Bermuda (grass) and built three new holes,” he said. “It’s tremendously improved.”
Changes at the course were made, in part, to make it easier for individuals to play nine holes. “When you started at hole one, you would finish nine at the other end of the course. It seemed like a half-mile walk back to the pro shop,” Rhoads explained. “Now, hole nine stops at the club house and the restaurant.”
Work also included removing invasive plants, such as popcorn trees. Other clearing was done to make it easier for players to find golf balls hit in the rough.
“If you have an erratic shot, it used to go in the woods,” he said. “You do it now, it might be in the rough, but you’ll be able to find the ball.”
The course will be managed by Honours Golf. The Birmingham-based group is part of Troon Golf, a firm that manages courses across the country, Rhoads said.
Honours currently manages Reunion Golf and Country Club in Madison, according to its website.