Note from Larry: Golf Course Club Houses often are the sites for wedding receptions...even ceremonies. In Persimmon Pines, the most exclusive location for these events is Woodstone Country Club at Horehound Landing. If you'd like to schedule your wedding for this unique venue, be sure to read the note at the end!
The Bride and Groom looked nervous. The balding Wedding Photographer lined up his shot, “Big smiles, you two!”
Just as the smiles began to bear fruit, from about 80 yards away, Dr. Twill Wartner - well known local GP - called out: “Fore!”
The young bride squealed and raised her bouquet over her head as her new husband ducked and rolled in his baby blue tux across the perfectly manicured carpet of grass that is the 18th green at Woodstone Country Club at Horehound Landing.
A gleaming white ball landed where, moments before, the couple had been posing. It took two hops, stopped and drew back about 12 feet. The wedding party clapped appreciatively as Doc Wartner, tipped his cap and strode onto the green to tap in his birdie putt.
Unusual? Weird? “Not at all,” says Woodstone Assistant Manager in Training Wip Myazoff. “Couples come here for weddings and receptions because this is a unique opportunity to blend fun, enjoyment and -- well -- weddings.”
How is it possible to make weddings enjoyable? Myazoff explains. “We give every wedding party a free day of golf the day of the wedding. By doing that we cut down on the chance that the reception will run too long -- because the guys always want to get out to play while there’s still enough daylight. And, let’s face it. Weddings can be a bit long and tedious. Especially when it drags on into the evening. This way, we help get the marriage off on the right foot by setting expectations: The honeymoon doesn’t start until the groom taps in on 18.”
Regarding the scene described at the beginning of this column, Myazoff chuckles. “Thanks to the silly environmental wetlands laws that hamstring us, dry ground is at a premium around here. That’s why, we send the wedding party out to the 18th hole for all pictures. It’s near the Clubhouse - so, it’s convenient for them -- and us. If someone gets clipped by a golf ball, our first aid kit is right inside the door!”
Aside from the rich golfing experience that’s part of every moment of a wedding adventure at Woodstone at Horehound Landing, there’s also the historic background of this special place. A romantic Traylor County legend has it that, back in 1867, a young couple, Travis Dongler and Bettina Sputz wanted to get married.
Their two families had a long history of disagreements. Some likened it to the the Montagues and Capulets or the Hatfields and McCoys. (Ironically, all these families have recently celebrated weddings at Woodstone CC.) In any case, after threats of violence, the couple was forced to elope. They paddled a leaky canoe across the Plunker River to the marshland near the mosquito infested licorice port of Horehound Landing. There, they acquired dockworker attire, joined the Union and became Longshoreman. And, seven years later, they had earned enough money to buy a ticket back to town, catch a train and move to Atlanta, where they each met someone else, got married and lived happy, contented lives far from each other and Horehound Landing.
The story of the original Horehound Landing, however isn’t as sweet. After the licorice famine of 1890, the anything-goes boomtown built on pilings above the marshland and swamps of Plunker River backwaters fell into bankruptcy and ruin.
In 1935 Acme Pesticide and Chemical Company dredged and reclaimed land for a testing facility. Just a year later, the site was abandoned in a panic by workers after a mysterious killer fog developed over Horehound Landing. The area remained pest and animal free for 20 years.
In 1956, the state condemned the property and built Horeland State Prison on the property. But, only months after opening, on a moonless night, the Prison mysteriously sank into the muck and mire of the swampland, taking the state’s most hardcore inmates with it. A partially submerged guard tower is the only sign that a prison was ever in this area. The tower is included in the design of the signature 16th hole. Every Halloween the Club invites townspeople to visit the “Haunted Tower of Horeland Prison.” Some say, if you listen closely, you can still hear the angry voices of the incarcerated trying to get out. Although, every year, there are fewer angry voices to be heard.
Most recently, Developer T. Earl Gerbley purchased the land for the exclusive golf course and high-end housing concept he named Woodstone CC at Horehound Landing. His protegé explains, “Mr. Gerbley wants to expand the amount of land by dredging silt from the river bed. But, the Feds keep bringing up ‘environmental concerns.’” He uses his fingers to indicate quote marks. “What are we trying to save? Mosquitoes?”
A large mosquito lands on his nose. He swats it. “Whatever. We’re not talking about politics right now. We’re talking about the fun of getting married at Woodstone Country Club at Horehound Landing.” Myazoff stops to savor the idea. “If I could get a girlfriend...Follow me!”
The Assistant Manager in Training quickly ushers me into the kitchen area, where Director of Catering, Chef Denis (spelled with one ‘n’ - pronounced like it’s spelled with a ‘P’), waits to continue my tour. Chef Denis is better known to many residents as Dennis Butterfield, former owner of Butterfield’s All You Can Eat in Nesters Crotch. (The popular stuff-your-face-place famously went under after a group of College kids on Spring Break and Senior Citizens Discount Promotion hit on the very same day.)
“My aim,” says the man in the big, poofy hat, “is to make food anybody can eat with one hand at a reception. That’s why I put hot dogs, burgers and grinders on toothpicks. It’s the best way to keep people eating while they’re doing other things -- such as dancing, kissing the bride or, holding a drink and soggy paper napkin in the other hand while talking over 80’s music played by a DJ who doesn’t even remember the 90s.”
In order to illustrate a typical wedding and reception at Woodstone CC, this Reporter has arranged for New Bride, Monica Terbilent of Lickendine Gap to share her wedding day diary.
Saturday May 28
My wedding day finally arrived! Getting married at historic Horehound Landing was a dream come true! Even though, until we found it in the phone book, I had never heard of Horehound Landing, it’s still historic. As Dad often says, “There’s a lot of history in through here.”
We arrived early at 6 a.m. so I could get into my gown in the Ladies Locker Room. I had to dress early, because there was a big Memorial Day tournament going on and the members needed to have the space to put on their shoes and whatnot. Anyway, it was fun wearing my bridal gown for 5 hours before the wedding. Not many girls get to do that!
Keith and his best man, Timmy, arrived a couple of hours later. They looked so cute in their tuxedo coats, cummerbunds and shorts. They chose shorts because they didn’t want to take too long to change before hitting the links. It was good practice for the honeymoon, too; because, Timmy came along with us so Keith could have someone to play golf with during our special seven days.
The ceremony on the First Tee was amazing! The views of the Plunker River backwaters are breathtaking. You are so close to the marsh, you can really smell it. Minister Radke had a good time exchanging one-liners with the guys who were teeing off, too! BTW: I liked the way the Minister used golf metaphors during his sermon. Like, he said the first year of marriage is like a perfect drive down the middle of the first fairway. No matter how perfect that first one is -- there are plenty more opportunities ahead for you to screw it up! Boy, that got a big laugh!
We had one brief thing that was a little awkward. A guy hit a bad shot, turned around and threw his golf club. It sailed over my head and hit my Mom between the eyes. Luckily, her glasses took most of the blow. They broke. And, I think that was a blessing - because those things were sooooo out of style. I’m writing this a couple weeks after my wedding; and, I’m happy to say her bruise is fading...and, her eyes have uncrossed.
Before the reception, we went to the 18th Green to take our wedding pictures. What a beautiful setting! If the mosquitoes hadn’t been there, I think it might have been almost perfect. Oh, and if
it hadn’t been so humid, too. Oh, and if the swampy smell wasn’t so strong...it would have been more perfect than it turned out to be.
I don’t remember much from the picture taking - except when a ball hit Uncle Rick on the noggin! He fell over, hard. But, it wasn’t more than 10 minutes before he was sitting up acting like he didn’t know his name or where he was! Uncle Rick is such a kidder!
Then came the reception -- with all that food! I’ve never seen so much food either wrapped in a bun or a tortilla! And, thanks to Chef Denis for his wonderful suggestion of having cupcakes instead of a wedding cake. I loved the squiggly white lines on top -- and the creamy filling! Mmmm!
Not much more to say, Keith, Timmy, my Dad, Uncle Rick and Minister Radke left to play golf, Mom, Aunt Dennie and me hung out on the veranda and munched on complimentary peanuts at the bar.
The boys were gone longer than expected and we missed our flight to Puerto Rico. But, still, based on my other four -- this was my best wedding, yet!
An important final thought: Weddings are booked through the middle of next year. Because of the long waiting time, Woodstone CC suggests you book now, and find a suitable mate later.
Larry Caringer has been writing humor for broadcast for a long time. Now, he's writing it for you. The stories, here, are from a collection of short stories from his book "Golf Beat: A Year in the Life of Persimmon Pines."