Greensbridge gets green light for beer

The Sampson Board of Commissioners split in a 3-2 approval of ABC permit request for Greensbridge Golf Club.

A golf course closed at the beginning of this year has since reopened, and will now be able to serve beer, following a vote by county commissioners.

Greensbridge Golf Club, located in between Roseboro and Garland, shut down due to the economy and lack of play at the start of 2015. The course, opened for two decades before closing its doors, provided the county with a fun and playable course on the southern end of the county but simply did not enjoy the attendance needed to stay afloat.

Now under new ownership, the course has sought to lure players with some of the same amenities that others offer — beer among them.

An ABC permit request, previously tabled by the Board of Commissioners due to concerns it may be in violation of a countywide ban against such sales, was broached at Thursday’s special meeting. County attorney Joel Starling addressed the issue.

“Even though there are not malt beverage sales authorized in the unincorporated areas of the county, this is a sports club. By statute, they’re exempt so they would be eligible (to sell),” said Starling.

Commissioner Clark Wooten, admittedly against issuing the ABC permit during a previous meeting, said he checked with the “sports club” in his district — Sandy Ridge Country Club — at the behest of Commissioner Harry Parker. He found that Parker’s intuition was correct, and Sandy Ridge indeed held the same permit.

“Given that fact, I would say that I would be vehemently in favor of doing the same for Greensbridge,” Wooten remarked. “I think it’s fair and equitable.”

Sports club are establishments that are “substantially engaged in the business of providing an 18-hole golf course, two or more tennis courts, or both.” Greensbridge falls under the former category, and the ABC Commission can issue permits to such establishments without approval being given as part of an election.

“It in no way interferes with the county,” Parker clarified.

Chairman Billy Lockamy said he felt the golf course should be granted the permit based on the precedent established in the county.

“I feel like there are other golf courses that have it … and I understand that the golf course has some financial problems and I think they have a new owner now,” Lockamy stated. “I think it would definitely be a plus to try and keep them operating. It’s a beautiful golf course and maybe we can keep it back going.”

Starling said the countywide referendum, in which the majority of voters shared opposition to beer and wine sales, would still be in place.

Lockamy made a motion to approve the permit request by FSC I for Greensbridge Golf Club, with Wooten offering a second. Commissioner Albert Kirby then shared why he would voting against the motion, citing the previous countywide referendum.

“My opposition to this — and I will vote no to it — is just based on the recent vote by the county,” Kirby said. “The citizens of the county made it clear what their feelings were about alcohol and consumption. Had it not been for that referendum we just had recently, I would probably be thinking the same way as you, Mr. Chairman.”

The vote ultimately came 3-2, with both Kirby and Parker casting dissenting votes.