Featured photo: Corey Matthews playing at the Winston Lake Golf Course (photo by Jerry Cooper)
UPDATE (9/18, 11:40 a.m.): This story was updated to include a comment from Heather Bratland, an historic resources officer at Forsyth County Historic Resources Commission.
A hearing has been set for Oct. 2. regarding Winston Lake Golf Course’s eligibility for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, a federal program administered by the National Park Service and the nation’s official list of historic buildings and districts worthy of preservation.
Julius Reese has worked at the course, which is a city-owned property, for 17 years, serving as the general manager for 15 of them.
Winston Lake Golf Course opened in 1956.
Reese said that in the local community, there are still guys playing the golf course who were around when the course was the only place for Black people in the area to play.
According to Reese, they weren’t allowed to play golf anywhere else, “unless they were a caddy.” That was the only time they could step on another golf course. Black golfers playing in Forsyth County were once restricted to the city-owned Reynolds Park Golf Course and private country clubs, where Black caddies were permitted to play only when courses were shut down or not in use.
Reese said that being put on the National Registry prevents the course from “drastic changes, like closing it down and putting 120 residential homes on the property out there.”
However, Heather Bratland, an historic resources officer at Forsyth County Historic Resources Commission, stated that while National Register designation “can protect the course from the negative impacts of federal actions, it places no restrictions on the city.”
“It is primarily an honor that documents and establishes the ‘historic bona fides’ of the site,” Bratland noted.
Regardless, getting the course the notoriety it’s due is important to Reese, who said that they’re working to list the site on the National Registry because they want “to get the awareness” about the course and to get that “stamp” that says, “Hey, this is a historic place, leave it alone.”
According to the city, the nominated property located at 3535 Winston Lake Road and 2790 New Walkertown Road is 221.34 acres.
Reese also said that they will be making upgrades to the golf course to make it more enjoyable for players.
“It’s already a tough course,” Reese said, adding, “We want to make the playability sustainable enough so people can come in and enjoy themselves.”
They’ll be replacing greens, putting drainage in sand traps and trimming trees as some overgrowth has leaked into the fairway.
They’ll also be getting 70 new golf carts. The city council approved the contract on Aug. 21.
Reese hopes that listing the golf course on the registry will give it “notoriety for all the historic footprints that’s walked and played on that golf course over the years.”
City council will hold a public hearing at City Hall at 6 p.m. on Oct. 2. At the end of the public hearing, the city council may continue the matter, deny the proposed designation or grant the proposed designation in whole or in part.
Prior to the hearing, all persons interested may obtain any additional information on these proposals which is in the possession of the City-County Planning Board by inquiring of staff at 336-747-7063 or [email protected].
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