Durham, N.C. — A Durham golf course that was on its death bed nine months ago has a new lease on life.
Hillandale Golf Course celebrated its reopening Thursday after $750,000 in renovations, including new putting surfaces, new signs, an updated pro shop and new golf carts.
A foundation affiliated with SunTrust Bank was set to close Hillandale last October because it was losing money and the bank couldn't find a buyer for it. Eventually, a deal was worked out with Durham for the city to take over the 100-year-old course.
"Being a part of this golf course means you are piece of this history," course director Karl Kimball said. "It means so much more to so many people than just a golf course."
It might mean the most to a Brazilian boy who, in 13 years, has already experienced a lifetime worth of adversity.
Henrique Hannud had been through three bone marrow transplants by age 8 when he discovered Hillandale. He and his father would drive by the course daily on their way to Duke University Medical Center for his leukemia treatments.
Juliano Hannud and Henrique started playing the course most days as a way to distract them from the treatment and get some exercise.
"I think honestly that this course here had a great amount of influence of giving the life of my son back to us," Juliano Hannud said. "This place here means a lot to me and my family."
Along the way, Juliano Hannud had formed a close friendship with Kimball, and one day, he got a call from Durham while home in Brazil that he didn't expect.
"He called me and said, 'Hey, something is going wrong here. Hillandale Golf is probably going to close,'" Juliano Hannud recalled.
The two men decided to work with the city on acquiring the course, and they formed a company, Amerazil Golf LLC, to manage the course for Durham and pay for needed upgrades. They closed the course May 30 for the repairs.
The two men also formed what's called the H.E.A.R.T.S. Club to provide free services at Hillandale to children in certain units at Duke Hospital.
"I get goose bumps when I (speak) because I love this place so much," Juliano Hannud said.