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Country Club of Bristol lacking members, facing uncertain future

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The oldest country club in Tennessee is facing an uncertain future. The problem is a lack of members at the Country Club of Bristol.

Now the owners are calling an important meeting to try to turn things around. Co-owner Mitch Walters is asking homeowners, and current and future members of the country club to come to a meeting next week.

Walters bought the country club just two years ago. But he said it's been declining for a while now. Back in 1994, the course had 577 members. Now it just has 157.

Walters said the course needs 250 members to survive. So he hopes a community meeting will drive up membership numbers. He's also asking nearby homeowners to attend, saying if the club goes under, property values will fall.

Walters said competing courses like the Virginian and the Olde Farm are part of the problem. But the biggest cost is property taxes. Last year, the country club paid more than $107,000 in city and county property taxes for the facility, golf course and fitness center.

"The property taxes are so high, it's hard to sustain a golf course in Tennessee," Walters said. "They've got to have membership to keep it going. And the purpose of this meeting is to enlighten everyone on the situation, and hope that we can have a lot more support to keep it here for next year and the next decade or two."

We also asked him if there are any plans to close nine holes or sell the golf course. Walters denied both of those as options right now.

Here are some reasons Walters said golf courses across the country are closing.

There's been a decline in the number of golfers - around 6 million fewer over the last decade. Fewer millennials are getting involved. The average age of a golfer is 48-years-old.

800 golf courses closed in the U.S. in the last decade. But there's still a lot of competition here. The are 26 courses within 50 miles of Bristol.

The meeting is open to the public. It will be at the Country Club on Wednesday, July 12th at 6:30 p.m.

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