Although legally known as "Willow Lake Golf Club, Inc.", and incorporated under that name, Metter and Candler County's Country Club is most often referred to as "Willow Lake Country Club." The club came into existence after a group of interested people met on a number of occasions, sometimes in the civic room of the community center and other times at a local restaurant, beginning early in the year of 1963.
After many discussions, it was finally decided to form a corporation, and four members of the group, namely J. Harold Trapnell, Dan J. Parrish, Sr., Dan L. Lanier, and George H. Lane were the incorporators, and the club received its corporate charter on October 25, 1963.
The organizational meeting was held Tuesday evening, November 5, 1963, at the community center, with about forty people present. The corporate charter was accepted, by-laws adopted and the first board of directors elected. The officers were:
Dan L. Lanier, President,
Metter and Candler County were well on their way to having a much needed and long desired golf course, which was the primary reason for organizing the club, although other facilities have been added since that time.
The club derived its name from a lake - or really a series of two or three lakes - lined by willow trees in the heart of what was to become an eighteen hole course.
Land for the development of the golf course, consisting of 74.52 acres, known as part of the J.C. Bland, Sr. farm and home site, including the dwelling house, situated about one mile north of the center of Metter, was selected as the site for the golf course, and although not actually deeded to the club and based upon good faith and trust on the part of W.L. Brannen and C.B. Jones who had purchased the property from J.C. Bland, Jr. in November, 1961, the golf course was started by the laying out of three holes under the direction of Dan Lanier and Kennedy Dekle, with the assistance of C.B. Jones and others. The number one hole was what is now the number three hole. Number two was what is now number four and number three were what is now number two, and the course was opened for play.
It was not long, however, before the course was extended to nine holes, under the direction of the same group, and was officially opened on July 1, 1964, with the layout of the first three holes remaining the same, and in fact, so remained for ten to twelve years and maybe longer, until the configuration of the course was changed by the relocation of the first three holes to where they are located at the present time.
On August 1, 1964, the property was purchased from W.L. Brannen and C.B. Jones (for $20,000) and, according to an old issue of the Metter Advertiser, "A number of golf carts had been purchased and the facilities included a complete nine hole golf course and a 'fleet' of electric carts."
During this time, a committee headed by Jeanette Peterson, with assistance of several others, began the remodeling of the old J.C. Bland residence, and in addition to many improvements made to the interior of the building, a decorative perforated concrete block facade was constructed along the front and a portion of the west side of the building. The interior was divided into a kitchen, dining room, rest rooms, and a pro shop. Although the improvements were only partially done, they were completed to the extent that the club had its first annual membership meeting there on Monday evening, November 23, 1964, at which time it was voted to increase the number of members from 75 to 100, and the club officers reported that a number of applications for the 25 new slots had already been received. Certificates of beneficial interest were issued to the then members at a cost of $500.00 each, payable in one lump sum, or in payments, financed by Metter Banking Company.
After much time and effort on the part of the renovation committee, the completely renovated (Bland) residence was officially opened Saturday night, April 3, 1965, and there was much activity there. The Rotary Club of Metter held its weekly luncheon meeting the following Tuesday at noon, but on Thursday night April 8th, and early Friday morning, the building was totally destroyed by fire, although much of the equipment and some furnishings were saved, including some golf clubs, electric carts and other golfing equipment, although some records and equipment of the rotary club were destroyed. The Metter Advertiser reported the following week that "the fire started in the kitchen...Apparently from a short circuit in a deep fry appliance."After the destruction of the original clubhouse, plans were very soon made to rebuild it on the same site and it was not long before the debris was carried away and the present clubhouse was built, although much has been done by various improvements and additions over the years. Also, many other improvements and facilities have been added, including the construction of a swimming pool and tennis courts, and the parking lot was paved by contributions from many members, such contributions amounting to perhaps 85%-90% of the actual cost. The most significant improvement, however, was the purchase of additional land, consisting of about 105 acres, in August 1989, from Glenn Roger Collins and Judseen Martha Collins for $260,000, and upon which an additional nine holes were laid out, along with a considerable number of residential lots. The nine holes have since been completed, and most of the lots are now owned by club members, and as of mid 1994, at least five new residences were in various stages of completion. The golf course is thus a much needed and desired eighteen hole course at the present time, and the club now owns about 60 electric golf carts.