MINERAL WELLS - The community came out to Woodridge Golf Club on Sunday for its annual summer picnic and to celebrate that the golf club is once again under local ownership.
The club held a "grand reopening" Sunday with many from around the community attending a ribbon cutting and a special dinner, held in the facility's banquet facilities.
The man who made it all possible was Bill Neal and many people took the opportunity Sunday to personally thank him for saving Woodridge. Neal recently became the owner and general manager of Woodridge Golf Club, purchasing the property from Orix Capital Markets LLC of Dallas. The course, which has been having financial troubles for a number of years, is once again in the hands of local owners.
Photo by Brett Dunlap
West Virginia University at Parkersburg President Marie Foster Gnage, left, congratulates Bill Neal, who recently became the owner and general manager of Woodridge Golf Club, on his purchase of the facility at a “grand reopening” celebration Sunday. People from around the community came out to celebrate that the golf club was once again under local ownership.
"The plans here are to keep the golf course going and improve it more," Neal said. "We want to have more employees and to serve the community like we have been."
Woodridge currently has around 20 employees. The facility includes the 18-hole golf course, practice grounds, driving range, banquet facilities and more.
"This will be a place for the community to come and have a great time," Neal said.
J.D. Beane, a local supporter as well as a Wood County Circuit Judge, said many people throughout the community were happy that Woodridge was under local ownership again.
"Everyone was just so excited about what has occurred here that we now have local ownership who is all in to making this a success that benefits the homeowners, golfers and the whole community," Beane said. "It is a win-win for everyone.
"This could have easily turned into pasture field. It would not have been the place it is today for golfers and homeowners."
During Sunday's event, comments were read from U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Rep. Shelly Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin who were unable to attend but wanted to wish Neal and the community well in the venture.
"I would like to congratulate a true leader, Bill Neal, in becoming the new owner and manager of this outstanding golf course," Manchin's comments said. "I would also like to thank Huntington Bank for working closely with Bill and community leaders to bring Woodridge back to local ownership."
Capito's comments mentioned the benefits to area golfers as well as the homeowners who have homes around the golf course.
"Your efforts to save the golf club have resulted in a great positive outcome," Capito said. "The tenacity you have shown to purchase this small business has so many implications. In addition to rescuing the course for faithful golfers, you have saved jobs for the employees of the golf course and provided support to local suppliers and those who service the course."
Tomblin's comments stressed why businesses like Woodridge are important to the community and the state.
"Woodridge is an economic and social benefit to the people of Wood County and I am extremely pleased it will remain open," he said. "I want to thank Bill Neal for investing in the community and in West Virginia.
"By purchasing Woodridge, he has given us all a special gift. Your efforts will be successful for many years to come."
The comments from Manchin, Capito and Tomblin all expressed interest in one day each of them being able to play at Woodridge.
Woodridge Golf Club is the newest member of the Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley, said chamber president Jill Parsons.
"We are very excited to be here today to help them celebrate this grand reopening," she said. "We are very excited for Bill and his team out here.
"They are fully committed to being out here for a very long time."
Although people think of golf when they think of Woodridge, the place has banquet facilities that have been rented out for receptions and other events.
"To have this here is just a great resource for our community here," Parsons said.
Neal said it has always been a dream of his to own a golf course and to do something within the community.
"I always wanted to reach out and help other people," he said. "This is a great facility.
"It is going to be here for a long time and I am just elated that I can do this for the community."