The transformation of the Larkin Golf Club into what the new owners predict will become a popular regional entertainment destination began with a single e-mail.

After Todd Senff, the president of Lakecations LLC, learned that Wingate University was selling the golf course it had been gifted in Statesville, he sent an email to a group of golf buddies, most of whom work in the racing industry, to see if anyone was interested in buying the course.

NASCAR play-by-play commentator Rick Allen was among those who received that email. He and other members of the Golf Guys Tour were intrigued by the prospect and arranged to play a round at the course.

“After six holes we were blown away because it was such a nice course,” Allen said.

The location, just off Interstate 77 in a fast-growing county of 200,000 people, was icing on the cake.

“It looked like there was such a boom in the area taking place,” Allen added. “We really wanted to be part of it.”

The ownership group, which includes Daytona 500 winners Michael Waltrip and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., decided to make an offer “and the next thing you know we owned a golf course,” Allen said.

Including the acquisition of the golf course and the spacious clubhouse and significant upgrades to both, the founders have invested about $6 million in The 500 Club.

A Grand Opening is scheduled for Saturday, January 13, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. The event includes a ribbon cutting ceremony, food and beverages, putting contests, golf simulators, corn hole and appearances by NASCAR personalities.

The event is open to the public. Anyone who hasn’t been on the property for a while will definitely be impressed.

The clubhouse was gutted and has been completely renovated. It features a restaurant with a diverse menu and a sports bar. There’s also a new putting course and golf simulators have been ordered. There are plans to add hitting bays, video games, a bocce course and outdoor pickleball courts in the next few months.

The golf course has also been upgraded with new greens, new bunkers and two new bridges — one of which will be named the “Jude Bridge” in honor of beloved golf course employee Jude McAlpin who died in April.

Although the golf side of the business will eventually be limited to 400 to 450 members, the founders are adamant that The 500 Club is open to everyone.

“It’s absolutely not a country club,” Allen stressed.

The club’s name was inspired by the founders’ ties to the racing industry — and Allen expects The 500 Club to become a favorite among NASCAR legends. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his wife Amy are members and have dined there, Allen said, and they offered some suggestions for the decor.

Behind the scenes, Allen said, the staff at The 500 Club is committed to making sure members and guests alike have a first-class experience.

Golf Superintendent Jaman Spake has overseen the improvements to the golf course, and Chefs Joey and Elijah have garnered rave reviews for their American cuisine, especially their wings.

“We’ve put a lot of great people in places where they can shine — and they have,” Allen said.

The 500 Club is located at 175 Club House Drive in Statesville. Visit to learn more.

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