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‘Army’ greets Arnie

MERRY HILL – Hundreds gathered here Friday to celebrate the grand opening of Innsbrook’s Arnold Palmer Signature Course, including the world-famous golfer Arnold Palmer himself.

Construction began on the 7,463-yard course and its surrounding development over three years ago, and today driving onto the grounds is like entering another world, in a wonderful way of course.

Palmer made his arrival Friday behind schedule due to inclement weather, and began playing nine holes of golf at around noon.

A crowd of over 100 followed him as he breezed through the holes, all the while talking to fans and signing autographs.

He called the course a great one and said that the grounds were laid well and were well-maintained.

Palmer, 78, is regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of men’s professional golf.

He has won numerous events on the PGA and other tours and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974.

Later in the day, a golf tournament, with 120 players making up 30 teams, lasted throughout the afternoon with 18 holes of play.

Innsbrook, which was constructed as a residential and boating community woven amidst the course itself, is located on the Albemarle Sound at Salmon Creek. Work has been steadily progressing at Innsbrook since its groundbreaking in February 2005.

So far, 59 families have purchased lots in the community, with an additional 141 under contract.

Innsbrook currently employs about 30 people with another 35-40 working for the developer’s company.

Bertie County Economic Development Director Steve Biggs told the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald on Wednesday that the impact Innsbrook will have on the county will be a plus.

&uot;Sales tax, property tax, tourism dollars, employment opportunities…you name it and the Innsbrook development and golf course delivers for Bertie County,&uot; Biggs said. &uot;They will be a great economic benefit to the county.&uot;

Innsbrook is currently a semi-private course, but future plans call for the course to become totally private.

There are less than 400 Arnold Palmer Signature Courses worldwide and less than 20 in North Carolina.

Innsbrook boasts a 7,463-yard course featuring several holes skirting the sound and even more that are set around ponds within the community, including four par five holes.

The Innsbrook golf and boating community as a whole spans more than 900 acres with sites for nearly 400 residential lots.

Admittance to Friday’s grand opening was by invitation only.

For more information on Innsbrook, visit http://www.innsbrookgolfandboat.com.