With a PGA caliber golf course as its centerpiece, Kinderlou Forest in Lowndes County is on par with the finest golf and residential communities anywhere.

Developed by The Langdale Company, the community will have an estimated $100 million impact on the region's economy, with more than 250 residential lots and condominiums available, and future plans for development of the remaining 4,000 acres of the 5,000-acre tract of former forest and agricultural land.

"We are looking at this as a 15-year project," said David DeLoach, the developer of the residential portion of Kinderlou Forest for The Langdale Company. "We are already master planning the additional acreage."

DeLoach, with Century 21 Winnersville Realty in Valdosta, said the first phase of the residential development is going much quicker than initially planned. "We've already surpassed our sales projections for the year."

The much anticipated opening of the golf course will take place April 23 in a day-long event open to the public, with course designer Davis Love III on hand to play a round on the 7,781-yard course with his brother, Mark.

With an unusual topography and higher elevations than can be typically found in much of South Georgia, Kinderlou is anchored by a 9,800-square-foot clubhouse at the highest point of the development, overlooking the 1st and 9th tees.

The finishing touches are being put on the development by a small army of workers, completing the landscaping in the common areas and the construction of the clubhouse. Pinnacle Prime is the general contractor on the development, with a cadre of local subcontractors working to have everything ready for the grand opening.

When complete, Kinderlou Forest will include the tour-quality golf course, residential home sites in six distinctive areas, and a clubhouse with a restaurant, pro shop and meeting areas.

Kinderlou Forest Golf Club

Designed by Davis Love III, the lengthy 18-hole course was developed with an eye toward hosting professional events while remaining a semiprivate course open to the public.

Already, even before the first official round has been played, the first semi-professional tour event has been scheduled. "We will host the NGF Hooters Tour event Sept. 13-19, and we have a number of corporate outings already planned," said Jim Bishop, the head golf professional for the course.

Bishop said he hopes the course will be "the ultimate golf experience for everybody."

Semiprivate memberships are now available, with a one-time fee and monthly dues of $165. The course will be open to the public, with the primary difference in that members can make tee times five days in advance, while the public can only make tee times two days in advance.

Bishop, excited about the course opening, said, "There's been so much intense interest from the local community, and nationally, from inside the golfing community. They've heard about it through the grapevine. We've had terrific word of mouth marketing for the course."

Chris Baker, the golf course superintendent, has been instrumental in getting the course in the condition it's in today -- and keeping it that way.

Baker said he has spent the last 14 months "doing whatever Love's crew needed me to do" to get the course ready. Once open, it will be his job, and the job of the 20 or so people working for him, to perform the daily mowing and maintenance, and to change the pin positions daily.

Players can track the pin placements via the Global Positioning Systems built in to each cart, which also allows the pro shop to track the pace of play and to adequately marshal the course.

The course also includes a 400-yard driving range and a large practice putting green.

A 7-acre, 25-foot deep lake on the property is the primary source of water for the course, with Baker saying, "We operate at the mercy of Mother Nature."

Kinderlou Forest has already been nominated for review by Golf Digest magazine as one of the best new golf courses in the country.

Those interested in golf memberships or for more information about the course, call 229-219-2300.

Clubhouse of 'understated elegance'

The 9,800-square-foot clubhouse, designed by local architect Santiago Iturralde of Insilico Design Studio, sits at the apex of the entire development.

Andres Villegas, director of marketing for The Langdale Company, said the clubhouse was designed in a "traditional theme of understated elegance."

Natural pine flooring culled from Langdale forests is used extensively throughout the clubhouse, as are products from the company's many divisions, including the molding, trim work, doors and windows.

The clubhouse features a large pro shop, well appointed locker rooms for men and women, a meeting area and a full service restaurant, The Ravine Grill and Dinner House.

The restaurant will be managed by Harold and Heather Chambers, the owners of Austin's Steak House. According to Heather, "We will be offering Southern twists on classic dishes and featuring menu items you can't get anywhere else in town."

The Ravine will serve lunch seven days a week and dinner every night except Sunday. With a capacity of 128 inside and seating outside on the patio, the restaurant also has the ability to host large events in conjunction with golf tournaments.

Players on the course can order lunch through the computers on each golf cart which will be ready at the turn, or there will be a walk-up window available for quicker items, such as hamburgers and hot dogs.

Living in the Forest

Although the focal point of Kinderlou Forest is the golf course, the community also includes more than 250 homesites and nearly 60 condominiums in several distinct areas of the development.

Interest in the homesites has already exceeded the developers' plans, as DeLoach said 85 have been sold already. Final closings on the first lots will begin in the next week, and DeLoach said construction should begin by early April.

The first section features 25 homesites on 2-acre lots, ranging in price from $80,000 to $110,000, with 4,000 square feet minimum required on the houses.

The second section of 11 lots is already sold out. The 1 to 1 1/2 acre lots ranged from $75,000 to $100,000 and houses will begin at 3,500 square feet.

In the northern section of the development, the 46 lots are 1/2 acre, ranging in price from $45,000 to $57,500 with houses beginning at 2,200 square feet.

A special double-gated community will be built behind the clubhouse area, with views of the golf course but buffered by wide green spaces. There are 57 homesites in the area on 3/4 acre lots ranging from $50,000 to $95,000 and houses starting at 2,800 square feet and up.

In the townhome, or garden home, section, there are 87 1/4-acre lots selling from $40,000 to $52,500, with houses 1,800 square feet minimum.

In the condominium area, 58 condos and seven cottages will be built, but the design and the developer have not yet been determined.

According to DeLoach, those purchasing lots have 18 months from closing to begin construction, and one year to complete construction. "We will be selling a limited number of lots to builders, but we will control the number of speculative houses under construction."

Only those on the master list of approved builders will be able to construct homes in Kinderlou, but DeLoach said others are welcome to apply to qualify.

All houses have to meet architectural guidelines and be reviewed by committee prior to approval.

DeLoach said everyone connected with the development is extremely pleased with the response. "We have far exceeded anyone's expectations."

Those interested in homesites are asked to contact DeLoach at 229-247-7653.

To contact Business Editor Kay Harris, please call 244-3400, ext. 280.

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