History of Houston Lake Country Club
The Tooke family, originally from Massachusetts and a large land owner from Haynesville, built the Houston Lake dam in 1841 to be used for the operation of a textile mill. The mill was turbine driven, which was unusual because at that time most mills were paddle wheel driven. Tooke also installed a grist mill for grinding corn. The mill operated until 1888 when the Dennard family purchased the property.
1n 1906, the Davis family purchased the lake and much of the surrounding property. They abandoned the textile mill and established a planning mill. Much of the lumber in many of the historical buildings around Perry was planed at this mill. They also rebuilt the grist mill and installed a cotton gin.
In 1918, the Davis family built the concrete spillway at the dam; in 1921, they constructed an ice plant; and in 1928, they built a hydro-electric plant that carried a 16 foot head of water and generated 150 kw of power. From that day forward, everything in the immediate Houston Lake area was powered by electricity except the grind stone of the grist mill. They continued operation of the grist mill so they could promote the fact that their flour was still water ground.
In the late 1920’s, recreation became very popular in the area. The recreation site was built because Grandfather Davis wanted a place to swim. In addition to the ice water pool, he constructed floating docks, diving boards, a picnic area, a bowling alley and a dance hall. The existing general store continued to operate. At this point in time, Houston Lake had officially become the “place to be” in Houston County. The Recreation Center remained in operation until 1954.
In the early 1960’s, the property was sold to a group of 17 local businessman led by Sam Nunn, and members of the Tolleson, Davis, Hulbert and Weems families. At the time, future Senator Nunn was a member of the Industrial Development Committee for the Perry Area Chamber of Commerce. In their efforts to recruit industry to the area, it became clear that there was a need for a full service country club in Perry. Perry Country Club was in existence, but only operated 9 holes of golf and did not sell alcoholic beverages. The Houston Lake property was purchased in 1964 and Houston Lake Country Club was opened in 1966. The Club will celebrate its 50th year of continuous operation in 2016.
The Club was sold to Allen Braswell Sr., Allen Braswell Jr., and Chris Murman in November, 1986. Chris and Beth Murman made Houston County their home and successfully operated the Club for 27 years. During this time, the Club enjoyed a redesign of the golf course layout to allow for the development of the prestigious Heather at Houston Lake subdivision. In addition, the Club experienced membership growth, and exemplary customer service in a friendly environment became the operating standard for Houston Lake Country Club.
In 1994, the rains from hurricane Alberto caused the Houston Lake dam to breach, leaving the lake bed dry and the Houston Lake community uncertain of its future. Led again by Senator Sam Nunn, a public-private partnership was formed with participation from the United States government, the State of Georgia, the Houston County Commissioners and Golf Concepts, Inc., that would allow for reconstruction of the dam. This public-private partnership paved the way for public access to one of Middle Georgia’s most beautiful natural resources, Houston Lake.
In May of 2013, the Club was sold to Byrd & Company LLC, a real estate holding company owned by Mark and Amy Byrd. The Byrd family’s business history began when Robert and Christine Byrd moved from Taylor County to Houston County in 1941 to work at Robins Air Force Base. The current Byrd & Company LLC was established in 1961 by Mark’s grandfather, Robert E. Byrd, after he retired from civil service at RAFB. In 1966, Mark’s father, Steve, assumed management of the business, and in 1992, Mark became the managing member of the company. While the business interests have varied over the years from residential rental property ownership, to prefabricated concrete products sales, to residential and commercial development, to the operation of Houston Lake Country Club, the core principles of hard work, integrity and community service have not changed from generation to generation.
Since 2013, Houston Lake Country Club has advanced its position as the premiere golf, dining, and country club facility in the Middle Georgia market. The Club and its staff are energized and motivated as is evidenced by an extraordinary level of membership satisfaction and retention, and significant recent membership growth. In addition, Houston Lake Country Club has established itself as the center of social and community activity for Houston and its surrounding counties. The ownership and staff of Houston Lake Country Club look forward to the opportunity to continue to “exceed the expectations” of our members and their guests for years to come!