Meadowbrook's roster continued to dwindle, and when the board met to discuss solutions, one question invariably came up: Should the club recruit white members? "For a long time I suggested it," says Goins after hooking a drive on the par-4 6th. "But for many years we had a manager who was very militant and felt that if [whites] hadn't let us use their facilities, then why should we let them use ours? I just felt we could always use bodies, no matter what color the skin."
Meadowbrook has had only one white family as members, that of a minister and his wife, who was a teacher at the Jeffreys Grove School in Raleigh, where Grant Batey was the principal. The family joined the club in the mid-'60s but moved out of town a few years later.
With the current membership down to 85, the sign at the end of the driveway is a plea. To blacks. To whites. To anybody.
"People have lost that feeling of making a sacrifice for a racial cause," says Grant Batey. But in truth, Meadow-brook's board lacked the managerial skills to slow the spiraling losses brought on by integration. Diminished membership begat diminished binds, diminished facilities, diminished recruiting potential and. finally, further diminished membership. Batey figures the club needs at least 75 new members—dues are $55 monthly, plus a $500 initiation fee—to become solvent again. He knows there are people to fill the club's rolls, but the problem is getting them to join a run-down organization. "Now we have all these prosperous young blacks living in the area who are into instant gratification," he says. "They come out here and say, 'Is this all you've got?' "
If Meadowbrook is to endure, its energy will have to come from Batey's son Daryl. As a fourth-grader in 1968, Daryl experienced court-ordered integration firsthand when he was bused across Raleigh to attend an elementary school that had only three blacks among its 600 students. Two summers earlier Daryl had played his first round of golf, on the nine holes at Meadowbrook. He grew to love the game and earned a golf scholarship to South Carolina State in 1975. There he roomed for four years with teammate Adrian Stills. The two dreamed about the PGA Tour. Stills would eventually play the Tour for two years before losing his card in 1987 and joining a Florida mini-tour. Daryl chased the American Dream instead. He got married in 1980, had a daughter—his wife is expecting a boy in November—and took an insurance job with the state of North Carolina. He moonlights as Meadowbrook's club pro, golf-shop manager and greenskeeper.
"We have to realize that the old guard, the inspiration for the club, is fading away, and unless we get some younger members, I wonder how we can survive," says Daryl, a four handicapper, walking up to the green on the par-3 7th. Daryl has schemes. His banker knows a noted North Carolinian named Jordan, and there is talk of inviting the former Tar Heel back to his home state to play Meadowbrook—and perhaps to join the club. But first Daryl has to kill whatever is living in the swimming pool.
There are also blueprints for a face-lift at Meadowbrook. Printed inside the club's 35th-anniversary recruiting brochure are details of a new 14,000-square-foot clubhouse, additional tennis courts and a much anticipated back nine. Meadowbrook is fighting the recession with expansion, and for a club already some $400,000 in debt, it is a risky investment.
"I'm very sentimental about Meadowbrook—about trying to carry on and build upon what my father started, for my kids and their kids," says Daryl. "And with so many clubs still not admitting blacks, saving our club is also about keeping alive what has been a serious statement for the black race. Meadowbrook will always be remembered for that, and to keep it going we must start answering the call."
And the calls.
After nine holes on this steamy day, the elder Batey stops for a cool beverage on the clubhouse veranda. He gazes out over his creation. "When we started this, we never believed in the word can't," he says. "The going's been tough and it'll be tough again, but if we work hard, I just know that one of these days...somehow...somebody...something...."