Last Update :10/9/2019

Press Release: River Landing Honored with NCGCOA Course of the Year

Course of the Year Award

River Landing has been named the 2019 “Course of the Year” by the North Carolina GCOA. This award was presented to Larry George, PGA, in recognition of outstanding business success over the past year – in reality, it was a matter of redemption. 

River Landing Cottage

On September 14, 2018, everything changed for the thriving 36-hole golf club and housing community known as River Landing in Wallace, NC, a Wilmington suburb.  That day Hurricane Florence brought a deluge of constant rain over four days with an amazing 39 inches of rain, severely impacting 246 homes and three-fourths of the golf holes with major flooding.  It was an emergency situation, and residents were landlocked, as highways 40 and 41 were under water, stranding them as well as many club employees.

Larry George, PGA, Director of Golf at River Landing, and his own home was flooded.  “We traveled by boat for a week,” he remarked, “but we set up priorities and immediately implemented a plan to protect our residents and members.”

The forecast did allow them to move their golf car fleet and to secure pump houses in advance, but the weather event was even worse than predicted.  EMS officers and Duke Energy workers flocked to the area from all points, so initially they had to make sure they had a secure base from which they could operate.  They put them up in the hotel.  Their next focus was the whole community, which included everyone affected, not just club residents.  Only later were they able to focus on the golf courses.  One initial move was to transfer the food stored at the The Mad Boar Restaurant to a local restaurant before it spoiled, to allow them to feed the EMS workers.

The tennis pro’s vehicle in the club parking lot

Luckily the club’s two superintendents, Chris Humphrey (River Course) and Chris Futrell (Landing Course), had been through the drill before, when Hurricane Floyd hit in 1999.  There was debris and dead fish all over 27 of the 36 golf holes.  Mosquitos were a big problem. Hundreds of trees were down, but fortunately there was little erosion.  They knew what to do, and in time they brought the courses back. The Landing Course reopened mid-October and the River Course at the start of November.

The entire development is owned by the Murphy family, and George made note of their personal commitment to do the right thing and help both the community and the club homeowners and members.  Club dues were suspended from mid-September to June1, 2019. Clubhouse opened for dinner on May 1st.  “People just don’t do things like that anymore,” George exclaimed.  “I can’t say enough about how the owners handled the situation -- it really makes me proud to work for them!”

During the recovery effort, the unaffected homeowners really pitched in to help those affected.  Every day for a couple of months, the volunteers would meet in the morning at the fitness center and get their daily plans on who they would help that day.  Step by step, the community and the club came back to life.  “I knew the community was strong,” said George, “they really bonded.”

The River Landing Clubhouse

The storm also damaged the clubhouse to a certain extent, but they got it operational, and before the end of 2018, they hosted a 36-hole fundraiser for Muscular Dystrophy and staged three weddings.  To put it all in perspective, the club’s restaurant was not able to open until May 1, 2019.  The pool didn’t open until July 4th this year.  Complete normalcy is not there yet, but that’s the goal.

From a business side, the club is rebuilding.  A lot of club members had to drop out because many did not have flood insurance and suffered major financial loss.  Thus for the first time, membership is now completely open to the community, not just homeowners.  Their goal is to support the community, with an eye on getting membership back to where it was.

River Landing now back in operation

When asked about what the award means, George said, “It means a lot, because we went through a lot.  To see what we went through and where we are now is amazing.  I feel like I’m in the right place.”

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