The Killearn Country Club & Inn was built in 1967 by Tallahassee native and developer J.T Williams. The initial 18-hole championship course was designed by golf course architect Bill Amick. In the early 70’s, a third nine holes, The Narrows, was added but was later closed in 2014. In addition to a championship golf course, excellent tennis and swimming facilities, a fitness center and a reputation for fine dining, the Club offered meeting rooms capable of seating up to 200 and 37 rooms for overnight guest.
Over the past 54 years, the Club has hosted 21 PGA and four LPGA tournaments as well as many other professional satellite tour events. From 1969 to 1982, the Club was home to the PGA’s Tallahassee Open which became the Centel Classic from 1983 to 1989. Legendary golfers Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, Gary Player, Chi-Chi Rodriquez and other top professional golfers played in these tournaments.
In 1987, Barton Tuck purchased Killearn Country Club & Inn from J.T. Williams. In 1995, Mr. Tuck leased Killearn to the American Golf Corporation who operated the Club until the lease was terminated in 2014. It was also in 2014, that Mr. Tuck made the highly controversial decision to close the Narrows course with the intention of selling a portion of the land to a residential developer. According to Mr. Tuck, the funds from the land sale were earmarked for Club improvements.
Residents with homes along the Narrows strongly objected to the closing and went to court. After a lengthy legal battle, Mr. Tuck ultimately prevailed and closed the Narrows. However, despite winning the legal challenges, Mr. Tuck was unable to complete the property sale and the promised improvements to the Club never happened. From 1995 until 2020, investment in the maintenance of the golf course and other facilities failed to meet the needs of the aging Club. As a result, the condition of the golf course, tennis and other facilities dramatically declined, and members began to leave.
In 2019, Club members Jimmy and Lisa Graganella and Ron Tolliver concluded that if something didn’t change, Killearn Country Club would soon fail. Working together, they formed Killearn Golf Properties, LLC and began planning the purchase and renovation of the Club. To raise a portion of the money necessary to save the Club, sixty-five of the Club’s members participated in a private investment offering that generated over one and a half million dollars. In February 2020, Killearn Golf Properties began operating the Club and immediately began making improvements to the golf course, facilities, and Club’s financial condition. On August 28, 2020, the purchase of Killearn Country Club was completed.
Killearn is now investor-owned and since August 2020 both long-time and new members have observed first-hand the renovations and long-deferred golf course maintenance occurring on a daily basis. Four state-of-the-art clay tennis courts were opened in March of 2021, many of the greens, bunkers and tees have been repaired, the 19th Hole and golf pro shop have been rehabbed, food quality and service has greatly improved and the tennis pro shop and fitness center building was demolished. As a result, memberships are increasing and the financial condition of the Club continues to improve.
This is just the beginning. Plans call for a new club house with exciting outdoor spaces, a new tennis/pool building, improvements to the swimming pool and further enhancements to the golf course and practice areas. These improvements will take time, but one could say the Club has already regained some of its former charm.