Fire destroys golf clubhouse

Posted 8/24/23

To some, it was like losing an old friend.

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Fire destroys golf clubhouse


To some, it was like losing an old friend.

Several members gathered Monday morning at the clubhouse of the Mineola Golf Club on W. Loop 564 which was no more than a smoldering ruin.

Stories were shared and a few tears were shed.

An overnight fire leveled the facility, which included a clubhouse/restaurant, bar and deck, locker and restrooms and a pro shop.

The nearby golf cart barn and swimming pool suffered no damage, nor did the course itself, although the putting green adjacent to the clubhouse had a few minor scrapes from the firefighting effort.

The facility closed Sunday around 10 p.m.

The alarm came about 12:30 a.m., and the Mineola fire department with assistance from five area departments rushed to put out the blaze, but it had spread too quickly to contain. It took until around 4 a.m. to extinguish.

Mineola Fire Marshal David Madsen said the fire burned at least 30 minutes, based on the time that golf course sprinklers shut off when they lost power at 12:05 a.m.

The first truck arriving found the fire had begun to come through the roof and windows, making an attack problematic.

One attempt was made to enter the building, but that was quickly abandoned, Madsen explained.

He is looking at an area of the kitchen on the east side of the building as the location where the fire started. Insurance investigators may be able to better pinpoint the cause through extensive testing of equipment, Madsen said.

The building was supplied with natural gas, and Madsen said the fire melted the meter, releasing gas, but the fire was already fully involved.

Assisting were units from Grand Saline, Lindale, Alba, Quitman and Hainesville.

Club officials were scrambling Monday to locate a temporary building to be able to operate a makeshift pro shop and open the club for golfing and swimming.

A travel trailer was moved in that could allow golfing to resume by Thursday or Friday.

Club manager Allen Brock was rounding up iPads and computers to be able to operate as soon as a land phone line can be established.

Plans are to locate a modular building on the property to operate as a temporary pro shop “for as long as it takes,” Brock said.

The insurance adjuster was scheduled to be on site on Thursday, after which Brock said the club would know more about what can be accomplished next.

Among the losses was the golf equipment of members who kept their clubs in lockers.

Brock was among them.

“There was nothing left,” he said. He was unsure whether the club’s insurance would cover those losses.

Another who lost his equipment, also a Mineola fireman, was Justin Clower. Clower had left his wedding ring in the locker, and when he went to see what was left, he noticed what at first appeared to be a ball bearing. It was the ring, minus its oak wood inlay.

The clubhouse also hosted the popular Jorgie’s Restaurant.

Monday evening, Mineola Country Club board president Kris Rinks was coming to terms with the total loss of the clubhouse, pro shop and restaurant.

“Can’t do anything about the fire...there’s nothing we can do about it,” he said.

He is, however, worried about their employees.

“You know, what are they going to do?” Rinks pondered.

“We’re going to lose good employees because we won’t have a pro shop for them to work in or a bar for them to tend. You know we have some phenomenal employees that I don’t want to lose.”

The golf course side of the business operates as a 501(7)c non-profit and, “we don’t make a whole lot of money,” says Rinks.

It makes a little, but Rinks says the building, which included the clubhouse and Jorgie’s, “generates a ton of revenue to keep it afloat. If it’s going to be six months or a year with no revenue from this aspect of our business, that’s a little stressful.”

He reiterated worry about the employees and expressed concern for the community.

“Friday nights, Saturday nights, Sunday afternoons after church, this place is packed full. It’s just a sad day for the city of the Mineola, as a whole.”

“But we will rebuild,” Rinks stated, believing it will be nicer, hold more people and be even better than before.

The club was established in 1932 with well-known Mineola benefactor Harry Meredith serving as the first chairman of the board.

It was built on a former dairy farm on 83 acres.

The clubhouse opened in 1940 and once hosted hall of fame golfer Byron Nelson for a round in 1960.

Pro golfer Jackie Cupit of Longview, who was in a playoff for the 1963 U.S. Open with Arnold Palmer and eventual winner Julius Boros, was also a visitor. His signed photo was among the losses.

The constitution and bylaws of the club were among the items just recently uncovered when the 1936 time capsule from the old Mineola post office was opened.