The property’s golf course reopened two days after the accidental fire that destroyed the clubhouse. The new facility, which broke ground on the same footprint as the previous clubhouse in December, will be complete by the fall, and will measure 6,100 sq. ft. with basement storage space to house 80 golf carts.
Two years after the century-old clubhouse at Camillus (N.Y.) Country Club went up in flames, the club is on the rebound, the Syracuse (N.Y.) Post-Standard reported.
“I saw the facility totally engulfed in flames and I knew at that moment it was gone,” said owner and General Manager Jivi Govender.
No one was hurt but millions of dollars were lost in property damage, including the building and 50 golf carts. The accidental fire originated in the clubhouse kitchen, the Post-Standard reported.
“I knew there was nothing anyone could do,” he said. “There was no chance of saving it. It was a total loss.”
The hilly par-73 Camillus golf course sits on a former dairy farm. When the property was sold in 1962, the land was converted into a golf course and the dairy barn, built in 1902, into a clubhouse, the Post-Standard reported.
The catastrophic loss hit Govender hard. But the following day, Govender and his family refused to dwell on what they couldn’t change. Two days after the fire, Govender re-opened the golf course, which was not damaged by the blaze. Superintendent Steve Fisher and his staff have kept the golf course in excellent condition despite the circumstances, the Post-Standard reported.
“We were all devastated by the fire but Jivi and his staff were so accommodating with making everyone comfortable,” said three-year club member Karen North. “They make their members feel special and they truly care about you.”
“The easy thing would be to quit but we chose to fight and come back bigger and stronger,” said Govender, who has run Camillus CC since 1986. “The following day, it was how do we pick ourselves up from this and we started making plans to move forward.”
Nearly two years later, Govender has brought Camillus CC’s clubhouse back to life. This season, the sights and sounds of construction greet golfers coming up the driveway as a brand new clubhouse is being erected. The only evidence of that fateful July night is the temporary structures that were erected shortly after the fire to serve Camillus’ clientele, the Post-Standard reported.
“They will see the building getting built in front of their eyes,” Govender said. “They can share in the building progress with us.”
The new clubhouse sits on the same spot as the former structure. It’s scheduled to be completed sometime this fall. Govender’s vision is of a modern facility with state-of-the-art amenities, while keeping the rustic ambiance of the old building. Govender’s re-imagined clubhouse will measure 6,100 sq. ft., compared to the 4,000-sq. ft. old building. The new building will also have basement storage space to house at least 80 golf carts, the Post-Standard reported.
“Everything was separate with a clubhouse and a cart barn,” Govender said. “Now we have it all in one facility.”
Construction on the new clubhouse began December 9, 2015. The handicapped-accessible clubhouse will have three entrances with a dining room with seating for 120 people, a bar area, a fully-equipped kitchen, administrative offices, locker rooms and a pro shop. Large windows (7-foot, 5-inches by 8-foot, 10-inches) line the back wall of the clubhouse, giving Camillus CC patrons a view of the course, the Post-Standard reported.
When the building is completed, an A-Frame porch facing the road will be the focal point of the clubhouse’s entrance. The large outdoor deck will run along the rear of the building overlooking the 18th green and the putting green, the Post-Standard reported.
“This is what we wanted all along. It’s all that we lacked before,” Govender said. “That’s the one good thing you can take from what happened. It gave us an opportunity to rethink our business model and apply some new ideas to today.”
Govender admits the fire and its aftermath has been a stressful journey. Except for a couple of weeks off for a vacation, Govender has been at the golf course every day, including Christmas Day, the Post-Standard reported.
“There is no playbook or manual on what to do after a fire,” he said. “I’ll say this, it’s taken a huge toll on my family. Not only emotionally but physically. Lots of late nights. Thank God for my wife (Susan), she’s been unbelievable supporting me. Our members and public play customers really rallied around us. They supported us not only financially but they stuck with us even though they didn’t have all the services we used to offer.”
Govender says his loyal clientele is one reason why his new clubhouse is being rebuilt on the ashes of the past. Camillus CC membership stands at 150 with 20,000 guests visiting his course each season, the Post-Standard reported.
“I’m excited we are going to have a facility that is exactly what our golfers are looking for in modern day 2016. We have the ability to take this building into the future. It’s built with those aspects and the forethought to go into the next few decades.”