Members say country club fire not suspicious

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April 20, 2007

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C.---It's been five days since a clubhouse fire, and there are still very few answers.

It was early Monday morning (April 16) when the North Augusta Golf and Country Club shot up in flames.

While investigators continue searching for the cause of the fire, management is busy putting its members at ease.

It couldn't have happened at a worse time, just days after new ownership stepped in. But they say they're re-building bigger and better.

"It's like, almost like losing one of your best friends," said member Al Parrott.

Al and his wife Jane are sad to see it go.

"It was everybody's favorite," Jane said.

It's where their son held his wedding reception.

But as News 12 viewer Ken Faircloth captured on camera, the brick that for years has built friendships and camaraderie was destroyed.

"My dad, he joined in 1966 I think," said member Steve Godwin. "He'd take me out and we'd walk the golf course in the late evenings."

Members and their sacred memories are why the club's new owner, Fred Layman, is speaking out.

"(To) let them know that we feel for them," he said.

He's owned the operation for only a week.

Investigators are calling the fire "suspicious", unsure of how it started. But members we spoke with say they don't buy it.

"I don't think so," Jane said. "I think it was wind, myself. I don't think it was suspicious at all."

News 12 was there as a whole new fleet of golf carts were delivered. Even worse, Layman has had to let some employees go.

Tonight, an open forum was held for members and for managers, including the general manager, who drove all the way from Maryland.

"Our thoughts are with them and their memories of the old club, but we're looking forward to our future," Layman said.

And so is everyone else.

"Just exciting watching something new go up," Jane said.

"They've amazed me in what they've been able to accomplish in such a short period of time," said member Hap Halbrooks.

The temporary clubhouse, a double wide, will arrive next week.The club will be using an outdoor tent for special events and barbecues.

If you'd like to follow their progress, you can visit their website at

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