“Golf is not stopping. We are going to find a way to turn this into a positive,” said Legacy Pines co-owner Tommy Biershenk after assessing the damage to the clubhouse at his course near Mauldin.
The building which housed the golf shop, offices as well as the club grill on the bottom floor and the Hejaz Shrine Temple Clubhouse in the rest of the building was destroyed by fire on May 12th.
“It is a mess right now, but the golf course is open and we want golfers to know they can come out and play. In fact we were playing today after the fire was put out,” said Biershenk.
The early morning blaze was believed to have started with an electrical problem outside the building around midnight.
Biershenk was called by his security company and got to the course in time to see the blaze destroy the building.
“I had to drive around on a couple of fairways to get near the building,” said Biershenk. “There really wasn’t anything to do, but stand and watch with the fire chief,” he said.
Firemen fought the blaze for over 10 hours. Four fire departments, ten trucks and millions of gallons of water were needed to defeat the fire.
“The fire got so hot it melted some of the concrete. There was nothing left of the golf shop. When the firemen finished up we got to go in with hardhats on and see if we could salvage anything. There wasn’t much of anything left,” said the co-owner.
While Biershenk lost a few mementoes from his days playing on the PGA Tour it was the Shriners who suffered the major loss in the fire.
The building held many historic records, plaques, pictures and awards earned by the local Shriners over the years.
“When we went back in they found a few things to salvage. They collected some pictures and a few other things, but there wasn’t much left of their things either,” said Biershenk.
When the fire was put out, golfers got back on the tee.
Biershenk moved his shop operations to an out building in the parking lot, found a generator to power his computer and started sending golfers out to play.
“We had just installed a brand new point of sale computer system and we hadn’t gotten rid of the old ones, so I’ve got to get those back working again,” he added.
The cart shed at the club is a separate building and there was no damage done to the cart fleet at the club. Biershenk has already ordered some new signs to guide golfers to the right place to check in and play.
“I’ve been going since I got here and I’m wore out, but I still have a lot of things to do. I got to find some way to have food for the golfers so I’m looking for a grill right now,” he said.
Biershenk and his partner Anthony Anders also own The Rock Golf Club north of Pickens and that course also requires his attention.
But for now Biershenk intends to put all his energy into starting to rebuild.
“Fortunately, we have insurance and we are going to rebuild our clubhouse and make sure it is nicer and more efficient than what we had,” he said.
But that will take some time, until then golfers can continue to play the course that has seen major improvements since the former PGA Tour player retired and bought the old Hejaz Golf Club.
“I’ve played golf all over the world when I was on the Tour and I’ve seen a lot of great golf courses. In the last few years I’ve been able to move a bunker or a tee or cut down a tree or two to make this a better course and we have been pleased that golfers have appreciated the improvements,” said Biershenk.
The former Clemson golfer expects to be running the club from a mobile unit for the foreseeable future and wants golfers to know that the course is open even if there is no clubhouse right now.
“Golf has been good to me and thank God nobody got hurt. This course has been making great progress. It is in great condition, in a great location and I know this is not going to stop us,” concluded Biershenk.
Fire has hit several other courses in the Upstate over the years.
The Thornblade Club’s building was destroyed by fire as was the clubhouse at the Rolling S golf club in Waterloo. The now closed Red Fox Country Club in Tryon had its clubhouse destroyed by fire and Pebble Creek lost its clubhouse the same way.