It took me almost four years to find out, as it just seemed that nobody I spoke with knew just when the Triadelphia Country Club was opened. It was located at Bruno in the Triadelphia District a few miles outside of Man. When I found out a few years ago the golf course was ceasing to exist, I made it a point to drive there and have a look. What I saw was not pretty.
The once well-manicured fairways and watered down greens where I had many times sliced errant shots into the nearby highway was ungraciously returning to nature. I desired to say good-bye to a place where countless good times had been conducted for many years and by hundreds of people. It was just that no one seemed to know when the golf course opened.
I was given many yearly time periods for the club's formation by former members of the country club, and I spent hours reviewing microfilm files of The Logan Banner, coming up empty every time. Frustrated, I searched for deeds and leases because I knew the land was the property of McDonald Land Company. I just wanted to do a story that allowed closure to a location that was suddenly being totally ignored, and deserved better.
By accident one day at the local college, I saw a front page headline in The Logan Banner microfilm files dated June 18, 1949. The headline read: "Triadelphia Country Club Is Set to Open Tomorrow." Do I need tell you that I was thrilled? At last, its epitaph could be unveiled and a proper ending could be added to the demise of the nine-hole, 2,500-foot piece of hillside that featured two ponds and served as the home course for Man Senior High School's golf teams.
Just like the Logan Country Club near Chapmanville, over the years of its existence there have been many youngsters who got their starts serving as caddies for coal company officials and other business types of "country clubbers" who laid claim to the eliteness of being a country club member. Many of these "kids" would take up the sport and excel at a game that is truly difficult to master.
Much like the name of Meade is associated with the rigors of golf in the Chapmanville area, so are some names like Gillespie and Grimmett in the Triadelphia area. Growing up across the Guyandotte River from the country club in the rough and rowdy community of Sandlick and Bruno, several folks from the nearby location found themselves almost daily fixtures at Triadelphia County Club.
Today, I am proud to write of the success of one of those "boys" who just last week accomplished a tremendous feat in capturing the title of champion in the West Virginia Senior Amateur title. Jim Grimmett, a 1981 Man High School graduate whose official address nowadays is Davin, last Wednesday defeated a man, Harold Payne, who had won the event on four occasions. The tournament featured many of the state's best golfers, including Pat Carter, Grimmett's good friend and sometimes teammate, when the two participate in tournaments across the country; the duo have won several of them, including the National Four-Ball championship near Chicago, Illinois.
The low-keyed Grimmett took a three-stroke lead into the back nine, but saw that lead evaporate to one stroke as the two players approached the 17th hole. The .22 caliber sound of a 150-yard nine-iron shot striking six inches high on the flag stick of No. 17 green and then falling into the hole beneath it, sealed Grimmett's first tourney win in that prestigious state golfing event - the lanky 56-year-old golfer having competed in many others over the years.
Jim Grimmett, just 10 months older than his brother Rick - who also is a noted golfer and a former Logan Board of Education member and county assessor - does some practicing at the Twisted Gun course near Gilbert, but currently has no "home" golf course.
The names of former Triadelphia club members like Roger Lamb, Ranny Gibson and Russell Greene - the two Grimmetts' uncle and a former "pro" at the Bruno location - undoubtedly contributed majorly in the development of their golf expertise, and were at one time key components of the Triadelphia Country Club, where other community events were often conducted such as weddings, reunions, etc.
Although both Jim and Rick got their interest in the game while caddying for their father at the club, Jim said he and his brother didn't take up the game until they were teenagers. In fact, Jim was a senior in high school before he played regularly.
The following comes from the 1940 newspaper article announcing the club's birth:
"After more than three months of planning and work, members of the club will tee-off at 12:30 o'clock tomorrow afternoon on the club's newly completed nine-hole golf course at Bruno."
Par for the course being set at 33, the club house committee announced plans for remodeling a dwelling on the site of the course for use as a club house that was being planned by a group sponsored by the Man Rotary Club. The Board of Directors' officers were named as Herbert E. Jones, president; Ralph M. Lamb, vice president; and D.K. Hensley, secretary and treasurer. John E. Davis, C.J. Stollings, Dr. R.W. Roberts, Thompson Cook, Fred McClain, N.W. Byers and Alfred Newland were listed as the other board members.
According to the news report, time, labor and equipment all were donated on a cooperative basis by members of the club in developing a course that was easily accessible by residents of the area. The once wooded territory that still contains a small graveyard in its midst, would bring much joy to many people for well over 60 years.
In June 1949, for 50 cents one could view a double feature movie at Monitor Drive-In on the Omar Road, or you could have chosen to go the grand opening preview of the Capitol Theatre in downtown Logan. Today, the former country club and movie locations have only one thing in common - they are gone.
Perhaps there is good news yet to come for residents of the Bruno area, if indeed, not for the entire county, as to the former location of the Triadelphia Country Club.
Informed sources tell me that officials with McDonald Land Co. are seeking to have the road adjacent to the former golfing location moved toward the river so that access to the area will be better suited for Hatfield-McCoy trail riders and other tourists who could enjoy a camping location that features cabins, perhaps a theme park, a convenient store, and even more.
Should all of this occur - and I believe it will - then you might say that this area of Logan County, which is just a short distance from trail riders that regularly visit Gilbert, will truly be witness to what can be called a grand "hole-in-one" success.
Providing this happens, a reincarnation and reinvigoration, if you will, for a once stately old golf course in the hills will become a new Logan county asset. For the record, though, the former golf course may in fact be the only golf course ever played in West Virginia by former NFL great and Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Farve.
However, that may be a story for another day.
Today's story should focus on the fact that the rolling golf course where guys like Jim Grimmett and fellow Man High School graduate and noted state golfer Tad Tomblin began hitting and chasing little round white balls up and down fairways in their youth is now just a memory.
How sad it must have been when Jim Grimmett was hired by McDonald Land Co. to tear down the club house a few years ago -the very same one where once he and so many others had their own lockers.
"It was tough," said Grimmett. "It was real tough, when I took an excavator and started tearing it down. There sure are a lot of great memories."
The newest memory that will not fade fast is what Jim says is his proudest accomplishment - a state championship. In fact, it was a championship in which Tad Tomblin was his caddie, while his friend, Pat Carter, quietly cheered Grimmett on to the win.
Not bad for a Logan County country boy, is it?
Dwight Williamson serves as magistrate in Logan County. He writes a weekly column for HD Media.