August / September 2017
Keeping Golfers Connected in TN, KY, MS, AL, NC
Trail blazer: Mike Nixon takes Tennessee Golf Trail to new heights Pages 2-3
Inside!! Passion play: Teaching is 14 Vaughnâ€™s way of giving back hear it for the brand: 17 Letâ€™s McPherson oversees Antigua Apparel conglomorate
Revival time: Twelve Stones Golf Club is on the rise
August / September 2017
Trail blazer: Mike Nixon takes Tennessee Golf Trail to new heights By Gregg Dewalt Tee Times Editor Mike Nixon doesn’t take his role as the Director of Golf Operations for the Tennessee State Parks system lightly. It’s no wonder. Still a highly skilled player, Nixon, a former PGA Tour player, knows what golfers of all skill levels want and expect when teeing it up at one of the Tennessee State Parks courses. It’s those expectations that drive him to provide the best experience possible as the keeper of the castle, so to speak. He has a simplistic explanation for what his job entails. “Taking care of our great assets for the citizens of Tennessee comprising the Tennessee Golf Trail,” he explained. “My personal hope is to leave them considerably better than I found them and have them in a position to go forward for whoever comes behind me, and to make sure they are here in perpetuity.” That’s quite a goal for a guy who discovered golf at age 14 when he became a caddie at Shelby Park. Now, he oversees nine Tennessee Golf Trail courses and their employees. He calls his job enjoyable and fulfilling. “When a plan comes together that works and has a positive impact on the people who play, the people who work or volunteer at our courses, or the course itself it is very fulfilling,” he said. “Improving the course or the experience of our guests is enjoyable to me. Rebuilding and contourMike and Melinda Nixon in Cortona, Italy, where the award winning movie, Under the Tuscan Sun was filmed
ing the greens at Paris Landing and Henry Horton and redoing the bunkers at Montgomery Bell were fun projects, long and hard, but enjoyable, and in the end I think a better overall product for our guests. I have some education in golf course architecture and have always enjoyed the process.” The TGT has earned national acclaim under Nixon’s direction, including implementing the electrification of Harrison Bay. “That was also a labor of love and something that made a difference,” he said. It also won Golf Digest’s Green Star Award and earned several other honors. “That was incredible,” he said. “To be mentioned with Pebble Beach, Kiawah Island, and Bandon Dunes is significant. I think we use more fully electric equipment than any other course in America. With TSP (Tennessee State Parks) being a part of TDEC (Tennessee Department of Energy and Conservation), it shows that we are environmentally friendly without sacrificing turf care. Harrison Bay was just named one of eight of the most environmentally-friendly courses in America by saveonenergy.com. We have also managed to put electric greens mowers at all of our TGT courses. That’s pretty special.” Nixon, who has been involved in real estate development, said comparisons can be made between that and his current position.
Mike Nixon is the 2015 Super Senior Amateur
“I’ve owned and operated some partnerships that purchased commercial properties from strip centers, office buildings and self-storage units,” he said. “Development has been fun. Mostly, it is taking a piece of land and giving it a higher and better use. In the end, development is trying to make something better and more valuable-same as our golf courses. Nixon didn’t start out to be a golfer or in the golf business. It just turned
Enjoying each other at the beach last New Year’s (L-R) Daughter Grace, son-in-law, Sammy(Mitchell), Mike, Melinda, son Joe, and daughter Jordan
The Mikes won: Mike Nixon and Mike Patton won the 2014 Super Senior Four-Ball
out that way. He admits being competitive at anything with a ball involved, but mostly baseball and basketball. Track was also a passion growing up. “I always loved jumping,” Nixon said. “I guess I’m competitive at most everything I do. It adds to the fun.” Nixon loved baseball. So did his father, who played a year with the New York Yankees’ Nashville Vols minor league affiliate. “But then he went to the war and that was the end of that,” Nixon said. “He wanted me to play and I had thoughts of playing professional baseball. Telling him I was quitting to play golf hurt him greatly, I think, but telling him I had a full scholarship to go to college in the next breath helped with his disappointment. My first real sports hero was Mickey Mantle.” If Mantle, the Yankees great with whom Nixon eventually got to play golf with on several occa-
August / September 2017
At a USGA Awards ceremony, (L-R) Mike Nixon, Thomas O’Toole, Jr. USGA, and Paul Carter, Superintendent Bear Trace Harrison Bay, Director of Agronomy.
sions during the 1970s, was his first real sports hero, Arnold Palmer was his inspiration in golf. “I started caddying at Shelby Park
and the game looked like fun, and it was,” Nixon recalled. “I played with the caddies and it went from there.” After college, Nixon honed his skills at Harpeth Hills, thanks to the EaTournaments played, placed, or won ton family who owned the course. “They let me play as much as I Middle Tn Regional Champion wanted and I continued to imMet Jr. Champion USGA Junior (T-64) Florence, SC prove and work at it while everyUSGA Junior Consolation Myrtle Beach, SC (2nd) one else was out working at real USGA Public Links (T-28) Seattle, WA Bluegrass Inv. Champion jobs and making money, so it was Gallatin Inv. Champion really a crap shoot but I had no reHohenwald Inv. Champion sponsibilities and loved the idea Dickson Inv. Champion TGA Long Drive Champion of traveling and playing,” he said. TGA Scholarship “I had total freedom, so why not?” TGA State Open Pro-Am Champion First Flight Open Champion Nixon turned professional and European Tour Summer 1975 spent 10 years grinding on the PGA Tour 1975-76 1976 National Long Drive Championship Palm Springs, Ca. PGA Tour, “but there was never Bristol Fall Ball Champion (2) enough money to make it worthMet Partnership Champion (2) while, and in the end I didn’t play Luther Hickman Open Champion Capital City Match Play Champion well enough so I went to work.” R.C. Open Champion “I think there were only about 50 Spears Memorial Champion (3) Greater Nashville Open Champion (2) guys who could make a good livCapital City Open Champion (2) ing at golf in the 1970s – pretty Tn PGA Champion (2) Lucyan Open Champion Freeport, Bahamas tough,” he said. “When they went TPGA Pro-Pro Champion (3) to the all-exempt tour in 1982 I TPGA Player of the Year 1980 called it a day. I don’t think I hit a PGA Tour 1981-82 Ben Hogan Tour 1993 ball between the end of 1982 and ADPlex Open Champion 1993 the spring of 1985.” Tommy Armour Tour Championships (2) National Sr. Club Pro Qu. Medalist However, once bitten the golf bug Tn. State Sr. Open Champion ** never really leaves and Nixon reUSGA Mid-Am (T-32) Medalist Runner -Up Carmel, IN USGA Mid-Am Troon Scottsdale WD (Illness) gained his amateur status around USGA Am Cherry Hills, CO 1986 and embarked on the next USGA Sr. Am Jacksonville, FL (T-32) phase of his career. He still plays USGA Sr. Am Egg Harbor, NJ USGA Sr. Open Lake Orion, Ml at a high level, including about British Am Ganton, England five of six events a year “so you British Sr. Am Berkshire Surrey, England British Sr. Am Ganton, England have to keep score.” Canadian Sr. Am Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada (R32} Other than that, these days NixCanadian Sr. Am London, Ontario, Canada Canadian Sr. Match Play Prince Edward Island (R16) on spends his time playing with a Bob Shearer Invitational Low-Am Noosa, Australia regular group. John Deal Old Hickory Invitational Champion “I don’t play nearly as much as Mlusic City Invitational Champion (2) Met Amateur Champion people think, but I enjoy just goTGA Sr Age Group Champion (2) ing out and hitting a few balls on TGA Amateur Match Play Medalist (2) Florida Senior Series Champion the range,” he said. USGA Qualifying Medalist (5) Nixon admits he still enjoys winUSGA Sr. Open Qualifying Medalist (2) TGA SSr. Four Ball Champion ning, if he’s playing in an event, TGA SSr. Amateur Champion but he reaps enjoyment just from TPGA SSr. State Open Champion being outside on a beautiful day. SOS SSr. National 65 and over Champion Played in all of USGA Individual Amateur Events “Playing in the late afternoon Six of seven USGA Individual Amateur Events with a friend or alone on a reaPlayed in all Western Amateur Events (Jr/ Am/ Open)
sonably empty course is about as good as it gets,” Nixon said. The director of golf operations for the Tennessee State Parks has a close working relationship with Golf House Tennessee, the home of all things golf for the state. “It’s a passion; I love (L-R) Kathy Glapa and Lori Munkeboe (Director) from the what they do,” Nixon Office of Sustainable Practices, Commissioner Bob Martineau said. “Dick Horton, the TDEC, Mike Nixon, David Withers - President of Jacobsen World Wide (retired now), Paul Carter - Superintendent at TGF, TGA, GCSAA and Bear Trace Harrison Bay, Director of Agronomy TPGA all have made substantial contributions to make all of this happen. I think it’s the finest thing that has happened in Tennessee golf. It’s the coming together of good people to do good things.” There is a plaque at Golf House honoring Nixon’s first wife, Lisa Kennedy, who passed away from a brain tumor in 1998 at age 42. Nixon is honored with a plaque on The Porch at Vinny Links clubhouse. “I grew up at Shelby, so that little course is close to my heart, and I am so glad Vinny Mike, loving nature along (Vince Gill) has taken that the Tennessee Golf Trail project to heart as well. I’m not sure that place would be there without him and so many others,” he said. Although he has since remarried and features a family that includes wife Melinda, daughters Jordan and Grace, and son Joe, Nixon still has a bit of wanderlust probably left over from his days on tour. “Something about me is still very young,” (L-R) Music and fun with friends, Mike he said. “I think most Nixon, Jim Gibson, and Steve Cropper people would say that if you ask Mike to go, you better mean it. I would still hit the road at a moment’s notice if it is somewhere I really wanted to go or have never been.” He also jokes that he’s lived his life backward. “I played and did mostly what I wanted to do for most of my life, and then had a family and got a job The Mikes: (L) Mike Nixon, when I got to retirement alongside his best age,” he said. “That might friend, golfing be the way to do it.” buddy, caddy, A love for his family, golf Mike Patton at the US Senior and the Tennessee Golf Open in 2015 Trail – that’s Mike Nixon.
August / September 2017
From tHE Editor By Gregg Dewalt
Vandy golf opens fall with 4th-place finish at Pebble Beach
19-under. • There are shots of a lifetime and there are even better shots of a lifetime. Count Peggy Lynn Hicks among the latter. Playing in the Caldwell High School Class of 1977 reunion scramble, Hicks made the rarest of shots, holing out from the fairway for a double eagle. “I hit a good first shot, and the second shot was going toward the hole, but the chances of it going in were so slim, that you don’t really think it’s going to go in,” Hicks told the Idaho Press-Tribune.
In case you missed it from the world of golf: Vanderbilt’s golf team, ranked No. 2 nationally coming into the fall portion of its schedule, opened with a fourth-place finish in the Carmel Cup played at the famed Pebble Beach Golf Links. The Commodores shot 27-under but
were well off No. 1 Oklahoma State’s winning pace of 52-under par in the play six, count five format. Three Commodores finished in the top 10, with Patrick Martin leading the way at 12-under 204. Will Gordon and John Augenstein each tied for sixth at 205. The tournament saw the Pebble Beach course record fall when Texas Tech’s Hurly Long shot 61 in the second round on the way to the individual title. Hurly bested the course record set by Tom Kite and equaled by David Duval, mak(L-R): Head coach Scott Limbaugh, Cooper Sears, Patrick ing 10 birdies and an eaMartin, Mason Greenberg, John Augenstein, Harrison gle to offset a lone bogey. Ott, Theo Humphrey, Will Gordon, Luke Zieman, Michael Decker, Andrew Jacobe, Assistant Coach Gator Todd. Long won the tournament in a playoff at
Peggy Lynn Hicks
Odds of making a double eagle are estimated between 1 million-to-one to 6 million-to-one. Odds of making a holein-one are a miniscule 13,000-to-one. Before you ask, yes it was a scramble but the team was using her drive for their second shots. After the other team members hit, Hicks took dead aim at the No. 4 green on the Purple Sage Golf Course. To her dismay, the ball found the bottom of the cup. “It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen in my entire life,” playing partner Kelli Belle told the PressTribune.. “I screamed, I hooted and hollered. All of us got goosebumps.”
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The story doesn’t end there, however. It was the second albatross of her career. Her other one came on the same course about 40 years ago. Also, her father, Keith Stanwood, was the golf pro at the course from 1969 to 1986, and she played the course growing up. Hicks also has a hole-in-one to her credit at the course. • Catch him if you can. Justin James captured the World Long Drive competition recently with a massive blow that measured 435 yards. That’s right, 435 yards. He beat Mitch Grassing in the televised finals. James didn’t have to hit it that far, though. In the final, Grassing failed to get a drive into the 50-yard grid in eight tries. James could have pulled out a wedge and won. Sandra Carlborg unleashed a 320-yard drive to win her fifth women’s World Long Drive title. Because the long drive competitors only care about how far it goes, there are lots of wayward shots. It also brings to mind the famous Sam Snead quote, who said this while talking about whether it was more difficult to hit a baseball or a golf ball with Red Sox great Ted Williams: “Ted, you don’t have to go up in the stands and play your foul balls. I do.” Keep it on the short grass, Gregg
2017 Volvik World Long Drive Champions Sandra Carlborg and Justin James
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August / September 2017
Thank You for supporting the 2017 Pink Power FORE A Cause
Dr. Kent Higdon, M.D. and Joy Hunter
Dr. Higdon specializes at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in Breast Reconstruction, Cosmetic Plastic Surgery and Post Cancer Reconstruction. Joy Hunter, a breast cancer survivor and our Chair for the Pink Power Fore a Cause benefitting Vanderbilt-Ingram Center. They wish to say thanks to everyone who sponsored or participated in this yearâ€™s tournament. It is the research like this and Vanderbilt doctors like Dr. Higdon that are continuing to advance the fight against breast cancer.
August / September 2017
For Davis, it was about her love of Metro Parks, golf By Gregg Dewalt Tee Times Editor Sally Davis made up for lost time. The recently retired Assistant Director of Parks and Recreation didn’t take her first golf lesson until she was 33 years old, but once bitten by the golf bug Davis fell head-over-heels in love with the sport. “I attended a group golf lesson for Parks employees at McCabe Golf Course in 1980, Davis recalled recently. “Luther Hickman was the instructor. After that lesson, I wasn’t sure if I had the patience to play golf. Patience is not one of my virtues and I knew that the game required patience. That was my challenge and the more I played, I fell in love with the game. It taught me humility and patience.” Ten years after that initial lesson, Davis joined the staff at McCabe Golf Course as assistant manager. “That is when my interest in soared,” she said. “I played in the nine-hole ladies group and began playing on a regular basis. The golfers and the game of golf become part of my life. I have met so many wonderful people through the game of
Two super ladies of golf, our Cover girls, Sally Davis and PGA Professional Nancy Bunton
Tennessee’s state director of golf. Together they worked hard to make sure the metro and state courses were among the best in the nation. “We shared ideas about golf operations and networked to ensure all of our golf courses were operated according to the best practices across the country,” she said. In 2012, Davis was the first female recipient of the “Lew Frank Award” presented annually by the Tennessee Golf Association to the “Outstanding Golf Administrator.” She’s a member of the
Sally “D” at the Parthenon at her retirement reception
At the 2013 JHF Ladies MUNI, The Sally Davis Trophy was presented to the surprised Davis. Sally and the late Jim Fyke, for whom the MUNI tournament is named, hold the trophy. Surrounding them are some course managers: (l-r) Cindy Dahlgren, Loren Personett, Wayne Evans, Barry DeVault, Troy Hendrickson, Kevin Fort, and Daryl Edens.
Tennessee Parks and Recreation Association and is on the board of the Town and Country Golf Association. Davis also is an honorary member of the Harpeth Hills Ladies Golf Association. Davis is also credited with separating the James H. Fyke Women’s Municipal Championship from the men’s championship, and now the tournament champion is presented with the “Sally Davis Trophy.” “I asked Jim if the women could have their own stand-alone tournament and he was more than happy
ally am going through a checklist in my mind making sure that everything is in order for the awards ceremony. I was humbled when they announced the naming of the trophy. There were many people that put effort into making that tournament what it is today.” In retirement, Davis is playing more golf than ever and enjoying every minute of it. “I enjoy playing with friends but also enjoy playing in competition with the ladies in the golf associations I belong to,” she said. “Playing weekly in the ladies golf associations allows me to meet new individuals and play golf with different individuals each week.” Davis doesn’t have any regrets choosing to go
Christina Vetvong, the 2017 JHF Ladies MUNI Champion is presented her trophy by Sally Davis. Thanks to the Fyke Family in attendance, Becky Fyke, Jim’s wife Kasey Purcell (granddaughter), Claire Purcell (daughter) and Richard Purcell (son-in-law).
golf and cherish my time spent involved with the game.” Davis retired after working 39 years in some capacity with the Metro Parks Deto work for Metro Parks. In fact, she partment. During her tenure, she held considers herself lucky to have spent 13 separate job titles, including Superintendent of Golf and Assistant Director 39 years doing something she loves. of Parks and Recreation. Other positions “Not many people get to go to included Golf Course Manager at Shelby work in a profession that they love,” Golf Course and Golf Operations Manager she said. “I am one of those people. under Danny Gibson. Working for the Parks and RecreLong time friends and golfing buddies playing at The Honors Course Davis cherishes the 23 years she spent ation Department allowed me to prorecently. (l-r) Claudia Kornmeyer, Mary Frances Evers, Cheryl Miller, Kim working in the golf division of the Metro Coakley, Sally Davis, Brigette Lanford, Norma Volz and Mary Ruth Geny vide customer service to the many Parks. patrons that use our parks facilities. “The Metro golf courses are some of the finest to give me his blessing,” she said. The people are what Metro Parks is a all about. I Having the trophy named for her came as a can say that the best part of my career with Metro municipal golf courses in the country,” she said. “Being a part of seeing our courses renovated, complete shock, Davis said. “I was in the breezeway at Two Rivers Golf Parks would be working with so many dedicated, three new clubhouses being built, adding the driving range at McCabe and other upgrades Course and I saw two of the pros come around caring and professional people. I am proud that to the facilities has been very rewarding. I was the corner with the trophy,” Davis said. “It had I consistently held myself accountable, practiced blessed to work with great golf managers and a a white drape on it. I wondered what they were treating people with respect and dignity and dedicated golf staff during my tenure in golf op- doing. Kevin Forte, one of the pros, told me after brought integrity to my workplace. I will cherish erations.” the unveiling that this was the first year that I my years with Metro Parks and always remember Davis also worked closely with Nancy Bunton, had not asked him where the trophy was. I usu- the wonderful people that I worked with.”
August / September 2017
Hoffman wins thriller at Women’s Open in Crossville Tee Times report CROSSVILLE – The Golf Capital of Tennessee Women’s Open turned out to be a proving ground for Sarah Hoffman. The Grand Valley State graduate, who is a registered nurse, survived an up-and-down final round and a threewoman playoff to capture her first professional victory. Hoffman made three-consecutive pars in the threehole playoff to finally outlast Samantha Troyanovich and amateur Elsa Moberly at the Stonehenge Golf Club. Moberly, Hoffman and Troyanovich each finished regulation-play at 2-under par. A bogey eliminated Moberly, a Sarah Hoffman junior at Eastern Kentucky, on the first playoff hole. Two holes later, Hoffman’s par while Troyanovich was making boplace. gey turned out to be the difference. “Golf is such a up-and-down sport, you can “I love the competition,” Hoffman said after never count yourself out, I had good vibes the win. “Everyone out here is competitive, going into No. 14,” Hoffman said. but I am the youngest of four so I am super However, Troyanovich regained sole poscompetitive. I had confidence going in.” session of first place after Hoffman made It was a topsy-turvy final round as Hoff- bogey on No. 15. Both players made pars man and Troyanovich took turns grabbing on Nos 16-17 setting up an exciting finish. the lead. Troyanovich led by two shots af- While the leaders were trading blows back ter an early birdie but back-to-back bogeys and forth, Moberly quietly posted two-uncombined with Hoffman birdies turned the der-par 70 to take the lead in the clubhouse. leaderboard around. Hoffman’s heady move on No. 18 kept her Troyanovich, a Tulane graduate, recovered in the championship. The Grand Valley State to grab a four-shot lead at five-under with University product hit 3-wood and was danseven holes to play, but a bad break and a gerously close to the water hazard. lost ball on the 12th hole provided Hoffman “I had used my two club-lengths on the tee the opening she needed to climb back into like you are allowed to,” Hoffman said. the tournament. Troyanovich’s approach Hoffman made par while Troyanovich bohit the back of the green and bounced into geyed the finishing hole, setting the stage for the high grass behind the green, resulting a three-woman playoff. in a lost ball and a triple bogey. What was a “This win provides validation, to be able seemingly safe four-shot lead was a reduced to close out a tournament like this,” Hoffto one shot. man said. “On a personal level this validates Hoffman proceeded to birdie the pictur- my choice, and I know I can make the putts esque par-3 14th to gain a share of first when I need to.”
Green-Golliher return to winning ways
Tee Times report throughout, with neither LOUDON – Call it reteam winning consecutive venge of the champions. holes. Green/Golliher took A year after not making a 1-up lead after winning it out of the semifinals No. 7. The teams halved and ceding their Senior the next eight holes unFour-Ball Championship til Poe/Rice won No. 16 to Tim Jackson and Buzz to square the match. The Fly, Danny Green and three-time champions imSteve Golliher were back mediately regained their in the hunt for a fourth 1-up lead by winning No. title at this year’s event. 17. Green/Golliher halved Mission accomplished. No. 18 to win the chamThe Green/Jackson team pionship match 1-up to knocked off Mike Poe become the first team to and Bob Rice 1-up in the capture four Senior FourDanny Green and championship match Ball Championships. Steve Golliher return to reclaim their title. It Earlier, Poe and Rice to winning ways was a sweet victory for gained a measure of reGreen/Jackson, who lost venge from their 2016 deto Poe/Rice in last year’s feat in the title match by semifinals. knocking off defending champs Fly/Jackson The championship match was close 2 and 1 in the semifinals.
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August / September 2017
Around Nashville Fairways Wayne Evans
Superintendent of Sports/ Golf Clubhouse Operations We are happy to announce that all has gone well with the installation of new greens at Harpeth Hills Golf Course. They have installed TifEagle ultradwarf Bermuda greens. They are an outstanding putting surface and have drawn rave reviews from those who have played them. Phil Luckett, Superintendent of Golf Maintenance, was pleased with the results of this project. He had previous experience with the installation of this grass, as he had crews install the same turf on the putting surfaces at Two Rivers Golf Course just last summer. Thanks to his oversight, and outstanding efforts by Brandon Two thumbs up for the new greens at Harpeth Hills Golf Denton and his crew at HarCourse. (l-r) Harpeth Hills Superintendent, Brandon Denton, peth Hills, it would be difficult Phil Luckett, Metro Parks Superintendent of Golf Maintenance, to find a course in better condi- and Alex Norman, Harpeth Hills Assistant Superintendent. tion than Harpeth Hills.
Harpeth Hills superintendent, Brandon Denton had this to say,” I’d like to thank the Harpeth Hills maintenance team for their hard work and dedication during the renovation process. Alex Norman (Assistant Superintendent), Martin Abbott (Senior Worker), Joe Bruggeman (Mechanic), Bill Dixon (Senior Worker), Montarious Gooch, Butch Maberry and Trevor Thrower. The renovation process went quickly because we had great weather and were able to capitalize on the experiences from the previous year at Two Rivers. Thank you to Phil Luckett, Lynn Ray and Brennan Merritt for their input into the process.” Speaking of Harpeth Hills, we will be showcasing this fine golf course when we host the James H. Fyke Senior Municipal Amateur Championship. The tournament will be played Sept. 25-26. The new greens should provide an excellent surface for the competition that will feature some of Middle Tennessee’s best senior amateur golfers. We are expecting a large field as Craig McElhaney defends his title. To sign up for this great event, go to jhfamateur.com. One more uplifting note to share, on Aug. 19, owner Frank Ward and the Sounds honored our Jim Fyke at the stadium. Becky Fyke threw out the first pitch wearing a Sounds’ jersey
www.teetimespaper.com with the “Fyke” patch and the name Fyke on her back with No. 15, the year the new Sounds stadium opened. Each player wore this emblem on their uniforms for this game and all that followed this season. Family members and friends were on hand for the presentation of a check presented to the James H. Fyke Municipal Championship Scholarship Fund. - Wayne
Frank Ward & the Nashville Sounds Foundation presented a check to the James H.Fyke Municipal Amateur Championship Scholarship Fund. (l-r) Rich Riebling, Becky Fyke, Claire Fyke Purcell, Rebecca Bryant, Ryan Malloy, Frank Ward and Booster.
Becky Fyke, Jim’s wife, just prior to throwing the first pitch on “Fyke Night.”
August / September 2017
Cooper Clinches the 30th Tennessee Mid-Am Championship The best way to describe the 3rd and final round of the 30th Tennessee Mid-Amateur Championship was a roller coaster ride. It was an up and down day for everyone that was in the final group. Local Memphian, Matt Cooper, was able to hold off all of his competitors en route to winning his first Tennessee Golf Association Championship since winning the 1996 TGA Junior Amateur Championship. Cooper started off with four straight pars followed by one of his two birdies on the front nine. The par-4 6th hole was the most difficult hole on the week and proved that with Cooper making his lone bogey on the front nine on that very hole. He made a birdie on the 9th hole to make the turn at 1-under and carried a 5 shot lead over Whit Turnbow to the back nine. The big drop in the roller coaster round started immediately on the back nine with Cooper making a bogey on the 10th. On the 11th hole it looked like the wheels were about to come off for both
competitors when both made a double-bogey 6 on the difficult par-4. Cooper was able to right the ship immediately making pars at the next 4 holes. Turnbow made a bogey at the par-4 12th and was now staring a 5-shot deficit with just 6 holes to play. Turnbow turned it on in those last 6 holes making 4 birdies coming in including birdies on 16, 17, and 18. Cooper, however, was able to make 2 birdies in the last 3 holes and never let Turnbow get within 3 shots of the lead. As their fellow-competitor and former player under Turnbow at Middle Tennessee State, Spencer Provow, said, “It’s hard to punch back when you are already on the ground”. Other than the two hole stretch to start the back nine, Cooper looked like he was in control of the Championship from the beginning. We would like to thank everyone that participated this week at this wonderful championship. Thank you to Spring Creek Ranch for allowing us to use this wonderful facility all week.
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August / September 2017
Opinion By David Widener
Member Golf Writers Association of America
PGA Championship gets respect with schedule change
ooked upon as the stepchild of the PGA Tour majors, the PGA Championship is getting its proper due, thanks to changes by the tour that will make it a centerpiece in the schedule beginning in 2019 when it is moved from August to May. Played in August, it is almost an afterthought because football and soccer consume the sports calendar. Plus, you have the Summer Olympics every four years at that time. You can thank the return of golf to the Olympics in 2016 for coming to the rescue. It resulted in the PGA Championship being moved to the end of July and showed Tour officials if it could be moved one year, it could be moved any year. Moving the PGA Championship every four years as golf stays in the Olympics did not make sense, thus the change from August to May. “We feel the television markets in general are stronger in May, and the May date opens up other parts of the country to host the tournament,” Pete Bevacqua, CEO of the PGA of America, says. “It’s more comfortable in the southeast, Florida and Texas at that time of the year. The PGA Championship historically has been played in nine of 12 months, so we have not been wed to an August date.” Take it from a native Texan who covered several PGA Tour events while working for Texas Golfer before joining Tee Times. The weather is much better in May than August when 100-degree temperatures are common. Texas also has three cities in the 10 most humid weather cities in the nation while Florida has two. You can bet the tour players are happy about the change. Not so happy are those in the Midwest and Northeast where 13 of the past 21 PGA Championships were played. Those are parts of the country where August is generally gorgeous, with sunny conditions and temperatures in the 80s. May on the other hand can be fickle. It can be warm and breezy, but it also can snow and be cold. Last year, Chicago matched a recordlow at 35 degrees on May 15. Not exactly golf weather. The PGA Championship is important in that part of its DNA is 20 PGA of America
club professionals playing in it every year through qualifying in the PGA professional championship, which is being moved to April. Former PGA of America president Ted Bishop made a case in an essay on Morning-Read.com to make Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville the permanent home of the PGA Championship and all domestic Ry-
Pete Bevacqua- CEO PGA of America
der Cups. However, his suggestion was not brought up at the pre-tournament PGA Championship press conference earlier this month. Valhalla is one of only two golf courses owned by the PGA of America and was the site of three previous PGA Championships, 1996, 2000 and 2014, plus the 2008 Ryder Cup. What it lacks is prestige as Golf Digest ranks it only 81st among America’s greatest golf courses. In another schedule change, the PGA Tour is moving The Players Championship back to March in 2019. Coupled with the PGA Championship move to May, the changes make for what Bevacqua calls “an unbelievably powerful and comfortable cadence” when you think about The Players Championship, Masters, PGA, U.S. Open, The Open Championship, FedExCup and the playoffs, and ending the year with either the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup, depending on what year it is. It gives the tour a big tournament every month from March and gives the PGA Championship some respect that’s been missing by giving it a prominent place on the schedule.
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Valerie Vaughn is at home on the range with the kids By Gregg Dewalt Tee Times Editor Of the numerous accolades and honors Valerie Vaughn has received during her 25-plus years in the golf business, her favorite is a simple, hand-drawn creation from one of her junior students. In it, Vaughn is depicted as Time Magazine’s Person of Year for a class assignment. The accompanying “article” reads: “This is my coach. She is my Person of the Year because she pushes me to where I need to be. Also, she is very nice, sweet, kind and brave. If it wasn’t because of her, I wouldn’t be where I am today. This is who my person of the year is.” Is it any wonder that it supersedes the other awards and honors? “That’s the ultimate compliment I have ever been paid by a junior golfer in my career,” Vaughn said. The honor came from Emily Nelson, who is 13 years old and still one of Vaughn’s students. It also affirms the reason Vaughn, whose official title is PGA teaching professional/player development and has worked at Golf House
Tennessee at The Little Course at Conner Lane since 2015, chose this aspect of the industry. “I got into the golf business to give back through my passion,” she said. “I would have tried the tour if I wanted to play every day.” Vaughn truly is a jack of all trades in her duties. She describes her job as “90 percent teaching and 10 percent golf operations - junior and family tournaments and leagues, charity events and PGA Junior League Captain of Little Course Eagles. It’s working with the junior golfers that Vaughn loves best. She’s been playing golf since she was seven years old and remembers the encouragement she got from her family, including her grandfather whom she says was an avid reader of The Rule of Golf. “The core of my job is encouraging over 5,000 kids annually through golf,” she said. “I love kids and feel so blessed to have this job. It is a privilege to be in front of kids - encouragement, patience and a lot of laughter.” Vaughn works with two top instruc-
Coach Valerie uses visual teaching aides for juniors. Camden is urged to putt toward his coach and target.
tors at The Little Course - Gaylon Cude, whom she describes as a rising star, and Eric Twesme. A recent addition to the Golf House Tennessee Learning Center team is Jessica Cathey, LPGA Apprentice, recently joined Golf House Tennessee Learning Center team. While the bulk of her job involves working with junior golfers, there’s more to it than just instruction – a lot more. “Ninety-five percent is juniors ages 4 through 17 in the Golf House Tennessee 7-Step Building Block Program, including In School Winter Program in Elementary Schools in Williamson County,”
August / September 2017
PGA Professional, Coach Valerie set up Camden Hall, 10 of Brentwood during a lesson.
Vaughn said. The other five percent is adult programs, clinics and leagues. She also is involved in the ladies clinics and the league series. She also is involved in the PGA HOPE Military Program / Adaptive Golf, Lipscomb University Golf For Life and corporate clinics. There’s also the catch-all position of assisting other departments when asked. In essence, Vaughn stays pretty busy, which is fine for somebody who after playing college golf at Western Kentucky didn’t touch a club “for a year.” “I was burned out on golf just out of college,” Vaughn explained. “I took a sales job and discovered I missed golf tremendously so I kept my eye on a new golf course under construction in an upscale
market in Birmingham (Alabama) in the late 80s.” A native of nearby Vestavia Hills, a Birmingham suburb, Vaughn recalls her grandparents openly pleading with her to stay in town and try to get a job at the new facility. Persistence eventually paid off and Vaughn was hired. “He ended up hiring me because I could offer extensive inventory control experience and skills through my days working inventories in my family’s drug store, private club merchandise and inventory experience in college and my experience
TEE TIMES at a national inventory company I worked for at nights during college years to earn extra money,” she said. From there, Eagle Point Golf Club head professional Vince DelBrocco encouraged Vaughn to check out the PGA program. “It was my first career job and was a great experience,” she said. She gained PGA Class A status in 1995 while in the midst of a four-year stint as the head professional at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail’s Oxmoor
Valley site. A series of teaching pro jobs followed, and in 2006 Vaughn became the director of golf at Eagle Point. Vaughn calls her move to Golf House Tennessee and Nashville “divine intervention.” She first met Tennessee Golf Foundation President Dick Horton while interning at the TPGA Junior Golf Academy when it was hosted at Fall Creek Falls. Her college coach, Nancy Quarcelino, made the introduction. “He had a vision for Tennessee golf,” Vaughn said. “I stayed in touch through the years as I visited family in Nashville and never guessed in a million years my life journey would land me at Golf House Tennessee in 2015.” Vaughn was in the midst of making a career change when she had a chance to interview for a job at The Little Course. She turned it down. “My door was knocked on the second time for an interview and I decided if opportunity presents itself more than once something is up,” she said. “The rest is history. Scott Flynn hired me and it was an unexpected move in my career but one of the best. I observed one man’s vision, Dick Horton, take ordinary golf in four decades to the ‘Top Model in the World’ and that is what ultimately sold me on my decision to take this job.” It’s a decision she hasn’t secondguessed once since arriving at Golf House Tennessee.
s n e e r & s e G m i d o T o G Away from the links, more good times await. You can experience memorable dining, shopping and attractions across our state. Rest at one of our many boutique hotels, relax at our world-class spas, or just soak in some of our soul-stirring blues in Mississippi’s temperate climate. DA N C I N G R A B B I T G O L F C L U B - C H O C TAW, M I S S I S S I P P I
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Equipment Corner SeeMore introduces new Nashville Studio Series The Nashville Studio Series represents the best-milled putter series in the world. The series includes a proprietary black diamond stainless steel finish as well as other limited, special run, extremely select putter design and finishes. 100% precision milled of the most expensive grade of USA made 303 stainless steel for the best in feel, balance, consistency and confidence. SeeMore Putter Institute (SPi) SPi is a learning system based on the simple fundamentals of finding the proper grip, alignment, stance, and posture. This allows for a natural, free, and simple putting stroke on each and every putt. It is based on the technology built into the SeeMore putter itself, and on the refined teachings of SeeMore Global Ambassador Pat O’Brien. O’Brien has worked with Zach Johnson, and many other PGA Tour and developing players. O’Brien has been teaching the SeeMore System around the world for more than 17 years, ever since he watched his good friend, the late Payne Stewart benefit from the SeeMore putting system to win 1999 US Open and lead the tour in putting statistics that year. RST Technology SeeMore’s patented
RST, known by a visible gun sight on the top line, allows the golfer to set up the putter perfectly each and every time in relation to the intended target line.
SeeMore Facts SeeMore originally became recognized when Payne Stewart won the 1999 U.S. Open playing a SeeMore putter in the greatest final round putting performance in US Open History. The brand was re-launched in 2007, and immediately regained worldwide prominence as Zach Johnson used a SeeMore FGP to win the 2007 Masters. Zach Johnson’s historic win at the 2015 Open Championship now becomes the 3d leg of the “SeeMore Slam.” SeeMore’s website at www.seemore.com has many new features about SeeMore’s remarkable legacy, technology, and tour success. SeeMore putters are custom made in Franklin, TN
This is accomplished by lining up the black bottom portion of the shaft between two white lines and covering a signature red dot on the heel of the top line. The process is like locking radar onto a target. The two parallel white sight lines frame the shaft and serve as an indicator that the golfer is in perfect position to make a consistent and reliable stroke.
TPT introduces new graphite shafts TPT Golf™ has released a new range of graphite golf shafts. Using ‘Thin Ply Technology’ (TPT) carbon fiber materials and a patented manufacturing process developed by its parent company, North Thin Ply Technology SARL, TPT Golf™ is setting new standards in shaft performance. The patent-pending manufacturing process enables golf shafts to be made with exceptionally accurate fiber placement in a highly uniform way around the shaft. This method creates a spineless shaft and overcomes the inconsistencies sometimes seen in shafts produced by the more-traditional table rolling methods. TPT shafts provide exceptional feel, leading to tighter shot dispersion, low spin and increased distance. TPT Golf (www.tptgplf.com)
August / September 2017
McPherson keeps Antigua brand growing, relevant By Gregg Dewalt Tee Times Editor It’s the Tuesday after the Solheim Cup and Ron McPherson is back in his Peoria, Arizona office, home of the Antigua Group, Inc. He has a phone interview scheduled for 9 a.m., and he answers on the third ring. Some 30 minutes later, the interview ends. In between, McPherson details how he went from an aspiring golf professional that grew up in Wyoming to the CEO of a multi-million dollar apparel conglomerate. But it’s the Solheim Cup that dominates the early portion of the conversation. The 67-yearold McPherson couldn’t be happier with allthings Solheim. Team USA dominated the matches against their European counterparts to retain the Cup, McPherson spent five days in Des Moines, Iowa watching the proceedings and, most important of all, the Antigua-designed uniforms for the Americans were a hit with the players and the fans. “It was a fantastic event for women’s golf, and boy can those girls play,” McPherson said. “Some of those girls, it’s just off the charts how far they can hit it, and just the precision of their games. It shows how good that golf has consistently gotten, and the teaching is so much better. So many girls are now playing golf, it’s good for the game.” This wasn’t McPherson’s first rodeo with the Solheim Cup. Antigua has been involved in the apparel side of the event since 2011, but the company has been a licensee for the LPGA since approximately 2005. Before that, Antigua was involved in the Ryder Cup as far back as 1993, so it’s easy to see the two entities go hand-in-hand. “About (2005) we decided we were going to grow our women’s business,” McPherson explained. “We felt like it was a good opening for Antigua to create a broader range of apparel on our women’s golf side. In conjunction with that, we started going out and aggressively putting together a team of LPGA players wearing Antigua gear.” Antigua’s stable of LPGA players wearing Antigua apparel includes Stacy Lewis, Brittany Lang, Gerina Pillar, Austin Ernst and Lizette Salas, all of whom were on the U.S. team this year. “It was quite a week for us,” McPherson said. “It’s been a good partnership and we are thrilled with the LPGA players we have. They give us great feedback on the designs and make sure we are getting the right fit and personality on the clothing.”
McPherson said initially the LPGA and the team captains had a lot of input in the uniform designs. Now, the trust has grown so that Antigua’s team of designers headed by Danielle Dellios is given the freedom to come up with the designs. “The LPGA basically says put together a bunch of designs you think are trending and keeping with the red, white and blue theme, and then we’ll have a meeting and look at them,” he said. “Danielle has done each of the uniform packages since 2011, and she knows her stuff. She’s obviously on trend as far as what’s going on out there and has been able to take some nice feedback from the players. Each uniform has a totally different Designer Danielle Dellios has designed the Team personality, which is what the USA uniforms for the last girls are looking for. This year’s Three Solheim Cups. This uniforms were another great year she wanted a “more look that the girls really appresports-driven look” ciated.” McPherson said he got good response from the players, but equally flattering was the positive feedback he got from within the industry. “For us it’s been an honor to do this. It’s a big job,” he said. “It is part of a promotion, branding; something we are providing for the LPGA in this particular case. In return, we receive the accolades and it could also go the wrong way. Fortunately, the uniforms have been a hit and it has been terrific for us.” McPherson laughs when asked if when he was a freshman on the University of Wyoming golf team he envisioned himself some 40-plus years later heading That leap of faith from golf professional to up one of the best-known apparel brands in sales rep for Eagle Golf morphed all these the industry. years later into the head of a 350-person com“My goal, obviously growing up, was to be a pany that has expanded beyond golf. professional golfer,” the 2011 Arizona Golf Hall “My wife and I kind of giggle about it on ocof Fame inductee said. “As soon as I got out of casion,” he said. “You just keep plugging along school I moved to Arizona where the weather and all of a sudden you take the next plateau was much warmer. I started to pursue golf here and the next plateau and now we have 350 and I got involved in the business as a profes- great people working at Antigua. It’s been a sional, working in shops. In 1979 I got asked great ride.” to join a small startup called Eagle Golf and it McPherson admits it isn’t easy to stay among evolved into Antigua, so it’s almost 40 years the industry leaders, as the golf business is exI’ve been in the business.” tremely competitive. “It’s a dogfight in golf, competing against
Ron McPherson, Antigua’s CEO
some really big companies and big brands,” he explained. “But we have a niche and we have been able to stay in that niche and grow the business. We’ve done the Ryder Cups and the Solheim Cups and all kinds of stuff like that. It helps you. It gives you a little credibility in the market. It’s kind of like golf. You keep grinding and fighting and never give up.” McPherson is quick to point out that Antigua’s success is a derivative of an excellent support staff ranging from “a great design team” that offers input and brings new ideas and projects to the table to “an excellent group of sales people in the field.” Part of Antigua’s appeal to golf shops is that they don’t have to order a massive quantity of items up front. “They can buy and sell and buy and sell all year long because we have inventory and we have decoration capacity here, so he can meet demands of their market and we can service his tournament needs his pro shop,” McPherson said. Over time, Antigua has expanded into other sports, not just golf. It is a licensee for Major League Baseball, the NFL, NBA and NHL, NASCAR and colleges and universities. “We’re blessed to have a very nice sports business,” McPherson said. “We are definitely an authentic sports brand. We started as primarily golf but we have extended reach into all sports. In golf our product is worn while you play the game. In all other sports our product is worn while you watch it. That’s the tag line that we use for our logo, which is ‘Antigua, apparel for you game.’” McPherson is loyal his brand, too. He laughs when asked if he has any non-Antigua gear in his closet at home. “Antigua takes good care of me across the spectrum,” he said. “We have polo shirts, woven shirts and sweaters and all those things. So, I’m an Antigua guy.”
August / September 2017
Oak Hills Four Lady Tournament Results
1 2 3 4 5 6
Anderson / Anderson / Carver / West Baldwin / Erwin / Lee / Pigue Choat / Dahlgren / Stanfill / West Bruce / Neely / Story / Wells Bradford / Linville / McMillan / Swafford Chandler / Tolar / Williams / Wright
1 2 3 4 5 6
Harbor / Tuck / Underwood / Willis 62 Cartwright / Crunk / Johnson / Summers 62 Adams / Martell / Starks / Stubblefield 63 Felts / Golightly / Gregory / Keen 63 Binkley / Owens / Walker 63 Bratten / Curtis / Curtis / Watson 64
1 2 3 4 5 6
Lawson / Lynch / Pahmier / Watson Lassiter / Lawrence / Short / Slice Childers / Nichols / Shanklin / Wilson Brewer / Havens / Merrick / West Crabtree / Grubbs / Jones / Merlis Brooks / Grubbs / Jones / Overton
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56 57 60 61 61 62
65 65 65 65 66 67
August / September 2017
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August / September 2017
Rebirth of Twelve Stones: A success story By Gregg Dewalt Tee Times Editor GOODLETTSVILLE – The golf landscape these days is littered with the skeletons of courses that didn’t make it during the sport’s downturn. Rarely do golf courses that struggled or fell out of favor make a comeback. That’s definitely not the case at Twelve Stones Golf Club, which is in the midst of a dramatic turnaround thanks to ownership that has put its money where its mouth is and a staff dedicated to turning the course into one of the area’s best values. Bought out of bankruptcy in Oct. 2014 for $1.2 million by Twelve Stones Group LLC., the course has undergone renovations and a staff makeover that helped it turn the corner. General manager Chase McGowin is about to celebrate his first year with the facility, and he’s ecstatic with the direction Twelve Stones is headed. “Our goal is simple,” McGowin said. “We want to redevelop Twelve Stones into an above average public golf course and to keep bringing in consistent rounds from regular players to new customers alike.” A Bill Bergin design spread over 147 acres, McGowin has seen steady growth in rounds in the 16 months since superintendent Josh Gaby joined the staff. “One thing that has made our job easier is (the owners) trust in us regarding any decision for Twelve Stones,” McGowin said. “Any big renovation or project is subject to their approval and the ownership group had the ultimate call, but with their investment they want to see success, which we have proven in the past year since they took over.” McGowin said that in the past 12 months, average rounds per day have nearly tripled from 40 to 108. “I believe as long as we continue growth in rounds we have the chance to thrive as a public course and we will have the full support from each owner,” he said. Twelve Stones is a par 72 layout that plays to 6,900 yards. It features bentgrass greens and Bermuda fairways, rough and
McGowin General Manager Chase
Josh Gaby, Superintendent Chris Wantz, teaching professional
tees. “My main goal when I got to Twelve Stones was to improve course conditions,” said Gaby, who spent seven years as course superintendent at The Legacy of Springfield. “There are still a lot of projects of priority that I see. This winter we will try to expand four of the greens back to their original size. But, the course is better now than it was a year ago, and it will be even better a year from now if caring, hard work and perseverance count.” McGowin said he doesn’t dwell on Twelve Stone’s rocky past. Now, it’s full steam ahead toward restoring the course brand and making it a place Josh has watchful eyes on course cameras while doing the GM’s necessary paperwork that people want to play. “I have no personal ties to this place besides what I have been a part of rebuild- Dylan Davis, Ally Decker and Nick Lingo. ing in the past few years,” he said. “I am Chris Wantz is the club’s teaching profesextremely proud of where we are, espe- sional who also doubles as a high school cially from where I heard it was. A year golf coach. Gaby’s staff includes three fullago I wanted to bring it back to where it time and one part-time employees. Wantz played collegiately at Ole Miss and once was – a challenging, well-managed golf course both in the pro shop and on has been a PGA of America member since the course where golfers can’t wait to try 1999. She also worked at Country Hills and was head professional at Riverside. their game on every one of our 18 hole.” “Everybody is great at Twelve Stones,” Pro shop staff includes Jamie Bertotti,
Pro Shop staff(l-r) Jamie Bertotti, Nick Lingo, Ally Decker, and Dylan Davis
Superintendent and crew: (l-r) Superintendent Josh Gaby, Kevin Allen, Mason Gunter, Kyle Martins. Not pictured John “JJ” Durham
Wantz said. “They are all accommodating to me, and I appreciate how they have supported me and helped me grow my business. Chase does ask for my input about the course and listens to any suggestions I have.” McGowin credits Gaby with the massive improvement in course conditions. “I have a lot of respect and trust in him,” McGowin said. “He has the knowledge and experience in course and grounds management and deserves every bit of acknowledgement for the course conditions being where they are today.” As the course has improved and word spread about the good things going on, Gaby said more and more players are returning and giving Twelve Stones another chance. “A lot of the people who you used to play here have returned,” Gaby said. “The new owners work with us, we have great management and a friendly staff. The course conditions have improved in lots of areas.” All of that adds up to well worth the time to give Twelve Stones Golf Club another try.
Chris Wantz works with Rachel Barnfield, 14, Freshman at Beech High School.
August / September 2017
Etowah Valley celebrates 50 Years of golf at the “Brickyard” Tee times report ETOWAH, N.C. – A golf course that sprang from unique beginnings continues its 50th anniversary this fall. Etowah Valley Golf & Resort, which transformed the hardscrabble terrain of a brick mining operation into a popular mountain golf destination, opened to much praise July 8, 1967. Architect Edmund Ault designed a long and challenging 18-hole layout and crafted nine more holes in 1988. The resort now spreads across 246 manicured acres with 27 holes of golf, 65 lodge rooms, three restaurants, a 200-seat banquet facility and a 200-seat outdoor pavilion. And after a few rough years during the Great Recession, new owners have invested nearly $2 million in the stay-and-play resort to set the stage for another 50 years of golf at the brickyard. “There are not a lot of clubs that have been around 50 years. We’re very proud of it and we’ve done a lot of good things since the course first started in 1967,” head golf professional Rick Merrick said. “Our new owners came in a few years ago and provided the capital and vision to turn things around. They have a great plan and it’s exciting to see what they’re doing.” The ownership group, based in nearby Asheville, is comprised of 14 partners. Managing partner Tim Rice learned to play golf at Etowah years ago and feels strongly that his group has charted a successful future for Etowah Valley. “We have a vision for Etowah Valley Golf & Resort and feel good about the plan and execution after nearly three years,” says Rice, whose group took over in late 2014. “Our members and resort guests are excited about our efforts. They see that our dollars are being well spent.” In just under three years, the ownership group has purchased a new fleet of golf carts and course maintenance equipment, installed a new irrigation system on the South Nine, hired a veteran course superintendent respected industrywide, renovated all 65 lodging rooms, upgraded the on-site restaurants, and purchased and rebranded a smokehouse on the edge of the resort. Rice says Etowah Valley’s leaders have always shown great vision, from Bruce Drysdale, the owner of the brick corporation who conceived the course, to his daughter and son-in-law, Betty
No. 7 green
Photos courtesy of Etowah Valley Golf & Resort
Anne and Frank Todd, who built the facility, ran it for decades, and expanded it to a stay-andplay resort with 27 holes. “We recognize Frank Todd and his family for being pioneers in the hospitality business in Henderson County,” Rice says. “Especially for them to have the vision to reclaim a distressed piece of land that had been stripped of all the clay for bricks. They put a lot of love and care into it and here we are celebrating their vision 50 years later.” The biggest improvements people will notice are course conditions, accommodations and guest service. Course superintendent Steven Neuliep is in the third year of a five-year plan to elevate course conditions. He has removed trees to improve turf growth, worked on drainage and irrigation issues, and made great strides with the bent grass greens. Neuliep delays opening each nine one morning a week for extensive maintenance that can’t be done when golfers are on the course. The lodging component has been upgraded as well. Each room received new furnishings and bathroom fixtures, high-definition flat screen televisions and high-speed Wi-Fi. “We brought the hotel lodging up to modern standards,” said Rice, noting that all rooms on
No. 11 green
Photos courtesy of Etowah Valley Golf & Resort
property overlook the golf course. On the hospitality side, the non-descript snack bar in the clubhouse has been tripled in size, with a bar and dining patio added. Now called Zeke’s Greenside Tavern, it seats 160 and is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week, with live entertainment throughout the week. Chelsea’s Events Center, also on property, serves an extensive country breakfast buffet seven days a week, and the partnership purchased the original BBQ Shak on the edge of the South Nine and rebranded it the Old Etowah Smokehouse. The pit-cooked barbecue is quite popular and the pickle-brined dipped chicken recently appeared on the cover of Garden & Gun. Of course, the main attraction at Etowah Valley is the course itself. Most layouts built a half century ago have become outdated by modern technology that allows golfers to hit the ball much farther. But Ault designed the original 18 holes at nearly 7,000 yards, which remains a stout number to this day, and the third nine is a respectable 3,318 yards in length. “Most people think when they come to the mountains they are going to play a real hilly golf course, but we’re in a valley here,” says Merrick. “And we’ve got three different nines. Our South Nine is relatively flat, but tree-lined and very challenging. Then our West Nine is kind of rolling hills and a little bit wider in the fairways and a little bit longer. Then we have the North Nine built in the late 1980s that is a little shorter, but hillier with smaller greens and a totally different look.” In 26 years at Etowah Valley, Merrick has seen a lot of repeat customers from all over the nation. He credits the convenience factor of having a stay-and-play facility with all the amenities. “Golfers feel like they are playing a different golf course each day when they pair two nines together,” Merrick says. “They play golf all day and don’t have to go anywhere for dinner or hospitality. We have groups that have been coming here for nearly 40 years and there are people booked here for the next 10-12 years. They really enjoy it.” For information about tee times or stay-andplay packages, call 828-891-7022 or go to: www.EtowahValley.com.
August / September 2017
Kok wins Tennessee PGA on home turf
Tee Times report ARRINGTON – Maybe Johan Kok’s win in the Tennessee PGA Professional Championship had a little something to do with home course advantage. Maybe it was because Kok was just a touch better in the 54-hole tournament than his fellow competitors. Any way you slice it, Kok emerged victorious to earn one of five spots in the National PGA Professional Championship and pocket the $10,000 winner’s check on his home course in late August. Even though he was playing a track that he plays often, the win didn’t come easy. Kok outlasted Brian Wood and Jake Reeves in a threehole playoff to get the victory. Kok, Wood and Reeves each tied at 6-under-par 207. Jake Flenniken and Oliver Peacock were two shots back. All five players qualified for the national tournament. Kok, Reeves and Brock Shafer were tied for the lead heading into the final round at 7-under. Peacock was at 6-under and Wood was 5-under, and things remained tight with nine holes to play. Kok let a two-shot lead slip away on the final nine and Wood got to 6-under with a birdie putt on No. 18. Reeves tied him for the clubhouse lead with a routine par, leaving it up to Kok to make a 15-foot birdie putt to forge a three-way tie. “At first look, I really was just looking at a 2 putt,” Kok said. “I knew I needed to get it close and walk away with a par, that would get me in the top 5 and I would qualify for
the national event. After looking it over, I felt really confident about the read and thought I would go for it. As it topped the hill, you could tell it had a chance if it had the speed.” Kok made the putt to get into the playoff, which he won on the third extra hole, to claim his first Tennessee PGA Professional Championship. Reeves and Wood each won $5,000 for their runner-up finish. Alternates for the national tournament are Bobby O’Brien, Jared Melson, Dave Ambrose and Brock Shafer. The Tennessee PGA would like to thank all of our partners who made this event happen. Without the support of Club Car, Omega, Mercedes Benz, TaylorMade, Adidas, Titleist, Foot-
joy, Magnolia Golf Group, Premier Golf Services, Signs By The Sea and ProGolfWeather this event would not be possible. Thank you
to the staff at Hideaway at Arrington for their hospitality and generous efforts throughout the week.
NASHVILLE – Things looked grim as John Swoboda made the turn in the final round of the Tennessee State Amateur at Belle Meade Country Club. Trailing by five shots at 3-under par for the tournament, Swoboda didn’t appear to have much of a chance to claim his first Tennessee Golf Association victory. Then, like it happens so often, things began to change. Tournament leader Austin Carter came back to the pack and Swoboda got hot. Eventually, a routine two-putt par on the final hole was good enough for the 24-year-old from Mount Juliet to claim the state amateur title. Swoboda’s winning score was 6-under-par 282. Four golfers finished a shot back at 283 – Kevin Burns, Austin Carter, Ryan Greer and Brayden Garrison. “This is the biggest win I have had,” Swoboda said after tapping in a one-foot par putt for the victory. “I have played amateur tournaments the last six years. I did not play college golf. I had a nice year last year but this is definitely the biggest win. I had ups and downs this week, but going into today I knew I was going to win this thing.” Swoboda opened with a 2-under 70, fell back with a 74 in the second round and moved back into contention with a
third-round 68. But it was Carter who took command of the tournament on the final day. Two early birdies and then a three-birdie barrage on the final three holes of the front nine took Carter to 8-under. William Nottingham, who plays at Clemson, was cruising along at 6-under par before a triple bogey/bogey finisn on the front nine took him out of contention. Carter opened the door with back-to-back birdies and Garrison temporarily seized the lead at 7-under with two straight birdies. But he followed those birdies with two bogeys that took him out of the picture. Swoboda, in the final pairing, started his surge to victory with a birdie at No. 15. “I made a nice little putt on No. 15 and decided to check the leaderboard for the first time,” Swoboda said. “I knew I had to get on a hot streak. Two more birdies left him tied with Carter going into the final hole. Carter bunkered his second shot at No. 18 and missed a five-footer for par to drop to 5-under par. Realizing a par was good enough for the win, Swoboda played his approach to the middle of the green and two-putted to become the 102ndTennessee Amateur Champion.
Swoboda Swoops in to Win 102nd Tennessee State Amateur
August / September 2017
Three teams claim Chapman, Personett, Fly capture titles at Foxland Harbor victory at NCR Harold Tee Times report tournament were Audie Johnson and Henrik GALLATIN – Walt Chapman’s 35-foot birdie Simonsen. putt on the second playoff hole proved to be a Loren Personett shot 69-66 to win the 2017 walk-off winner at the Tennessee Senior PGA Yamaha Players Championship for the secChampionship at Foxland Harbor. With the putt to beat Richard Rebne, Chapman also successfully defended Walt Chapman his title in the event. Both players finished the 36-hole tournament tied at 7-under 137. Rebne, a three-time champion, shot 65 in the final round to get into the playoff. Both playoff participants earned berths into the upcoming National Senior PGA Professional Championship at Desert Mountain in Scottsdale, Arizona. Also qualifying for the national
ond time. With the win, Personett solidified his quest for an 11th Player of the Year title as he currently sits atop of the leaderboard, 249 points ahead of Bobby Cochran. Amateur Buzz Fly won the overall senior amateur division of the Players Championship with rounds of 67-68. The regular amateur title was won by Nick Garretson with rounds of 73-66. The team of Paul Moody and Brian Wood won the putting contest.
Tee Times report Old Hickory, TN – After two days of perfect weather at Old Hickory Country Club, the 2017 National Car Rental Harold Eller Pro-Am came down to the wire. Tim Keller’s team took the Ervin Division (Old Hickory Member) and a tie for the Eller Division (3 Scratch) between Joey Hickman’s and Jamie Chapman’s teams. Day 1 saw ideal conditions for teams to go low. It was highlighted by five teams shooting an impressive 60 (-11) in the Eller Division. The teams of Chapman/Sherlin/Schorsten/Burris, Helton/ Turnbow/Crockett/Long, Bevell/Smith/Reese/ Williams, Brannon/Cheney/Zieman/Olsen, and Curtis/Collart/Nichols/Oliver all saw themselves in a tie for the lead. In the Ervin Division saw just as many birdies. The team of Pesonett/Herchenhahn/Gober/Terry shot a 59 (-12) with 6 birdies and 3 eagles on the day. This was followed up by the team of Houser/ Harringer/Weber/Cisco who had 12 birdies on their way to firing a 59 (-12). Day 2 saw two teams surge to the top of the Eller Division. Host Professional Joey Hickman’s team shot a steller 58 (-13). They finished the round with 13 birdies, that included a stretch of 9 straight. Jamie Chapman’s team put together 12 birdies on their way to shooting a 59 (-12), tying them with Hickman’s team at 119 (-23). The two winning teams were Joey Hickman’s team of Josh Coley, Rob Clark, and Cameron Chhim, and Jamie Chapman’s team of Jacob Sherlin, Dan Schorsten, and Brandon Burris. The Ervin Division saw one team battle their way into the top spot. Tim Keller’s team of Josh Flegel, Holcomb Burke, and Jim Winchester shot a 58 (-13). Their round featured 13 birdies on their way to victory. Not to go without mention are the winners of the individual divisions. Josh Bevell won the Regular Professional Division with 134 (-8). This was Josh’s first career
The Eller Division, Joey Hickman’s Team, (l-r) Rob Clark, Joey Hickman, and Cameron Chhim. Not pictured: Josh Coley
professional victory with the TPGA. Jared Melson, PGA won the Senior Professional with 138 (-4). Lee Maxwell won the Scratch Amateur Division by shooting a 136 (-6). Jeff Golliher won the Senior Scratch Amateur Division with 139 (-3). And finally, Steve Cisco won the Old Hickory Member Net Division with 140 (-2). The True Temper Skins Game had plenty of winners. Round one saw three skins won by Jared Melson, PGA, Bobby Cochran, PGA and Adam Forgey. There were four skins won during round two by Matt Manzaro, PGA, Greg Wyatt, PGA, Adam Forgey, and Todd Jenkins, PGA. Overall, the whole tournament was a great success with a lot of close competitions. The Tennessee PGA would like to thank to Joey Hickman, PGA, and the rest of the staff at Old Hickory Country Club for making this tournament possible. A special thank you to National Car Rental for sponsoring this year’s Harold Eller Pro-Am. Without the support of our sponsors, the Tennessee PGA’s events would not be made possible.
The Ervin Team of Tim Keller: Josh Flegel, Holcomb Burke, and Jim Winchester
August / September 2017