Keeping Golfers Connected in TN, KY, MS, AL, NC
Country Hills Where ‘Customers First’ Means Everything Pages 2-3
Brad Shirley Rob Phillips
Pam Chambers Compton
Inside!! a brand: Mark McEntire 8 Rebuilding has MTSU’s men’s golf team rolling 9
Fabulous freshman: Manchester’s
The Right Stuff: Lipscomb’s
Ashley Gilliam was sensational in first season at Mississippi State
Nolan Ray ponders his golf future
Reese’s pieces: TGA’s Darren Reese kept golf in the spotlight at height of pandemic
Country Hills: Where ‘Customers First’ Means Everything
By Justin Onslow Tee Times Associate Editor In the world of golf, “customers first” is an expression as common as “I’ll just take a drop.” Every golf course operator worth his or her salt will tell you that customers always come first – that the foundation of their business is making sure the patron is happy. That’s all well and good, but not every golf course actually practices what it preaches. But as sure as your buddy not gifting you that three-footer, Country Hills Golf Course in Hendersonville isn’t one of those courses. Brad Shirley, head PGA professional at Country Hills and lifelong Middle Tennessee resident, has spent his entire adult life in the golf course management business. Sure, he plays and teaches the game,
as any good PGA pro does, but his background within the sport itself is in the business side of things. He has a mind for business, a passion for the sport and a heart for his customers. Shirley spent 10 years as the Director of Golf at Hermitage and another five in the same role at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Oxmoor Valley. What he learned in those 15 years created the foundation for how he runs Country Hills – a much smaller and less-trafficked facility than either one. “It’s all about customer service,” he says. “Everybody says that, but not everybody does that. “Hermitage has a lot of people. The Trail has a lot of people. I love Country Hills because we’ve basically got four [employees] plus the maintenance staff and we do everything. Through time, I’ve realized that
Brad Shirley, PGA, Director of Golf people can multitask, and if you empower them a little bit you don’t need all those layers and titles.” The way Shirley talks about his staff gives a clue as to how he treats everyone – customers included. He may call himself a businessman at heart, but really he’s a people person, through and through. And he understands the value of taking responsibility for everything that goes on around him. “The environment – I feel like I have pretty close to 100 percent control over that,” he says. “If we
don’t create the proper environment, that’s on me. I haven’t set a standard. I haven’t taught my guys and hired the right people.” But Shirley has hired the right people, as evidenced by the success Country Hills has found during the COVID-19 pandemic, at a time when strict guidelines and adherence to certain standards is absolutely paramount, especially as a city-owned golf course.
Jimbo Hicks, PGA Hometown: Goodlettsville, Tennessee Official Title: PGA Professional, Head Golf Professional Tee Times: How long have you been at Country Hills? Jimbo: I arrived at Country Hills Golf Club on May 1, last year. I actually opened Country Hills, let me think, 1990 or 1991, so this was a true home coming, and feel like I have come full circle. Tee Times: When did you assume your current role? Jimbo: Immediately upon arrival, I joined a super staff and an old friend, college roommate at MTSU, and co-worker at Brentwood CC in the eighties, our director of golf, Brad Shirley. Tee Times: What do you consider the most meaningful and rewarding part of your job? Jimbo: Just about everything. A professional gets satisfaction from all aspects of the game of golf. By the way, I love to play, recreationally and competitively in our Tennessee Section PGA events.
Rob Merritt Hometown: Hendersonville, Tennessee Official Title: Superintendent Tee Times: How long have you been at Country Hills? Rob: Since 1996 Tee Times: When did you assume your current role? Rob: Became Superintendent in 1999 Tee Times: What do you consider the most meaningful and rewarding part of your job? Rob: Seeing how great the course can looks after tons of hard work by a small crew. Fertilizing, weed control, watering, mowing, and routine ongoing maintenance results in our golfers enjoying their round. It is so gratifying for all of us here. Tee Times: The staff inside and out seems to mesh, explain this, where does this come from? Rob: We are just like a big family, we love what we do, and enjoy being around each other. My crew and everyone that works here at Country Hills, inside or out is dedicated to deliver a great experience for our golfers. I cannot say enough about my small, mighty hard working crew, they are, Larry Williamsmechanic, Greg Cole, Greg Vaughn, Angel Hernandez, Jose Fernandez, and Mason Whitt.
Pam Chambers Compton Hometown: Madison, Tennessee Official Title: Food & Beverage Manager / Grill Chief Tee Times: How long have you been at Country Hills? Pam: Since 2014 Tee Times: When did you assume your current role? Pam: Part time going back to the year 2014 in between substitute teaching at Station Camp High. I love being here; I am an athlete going back to high school and my days at Tennessee Tech as a basketball player and coach. I love the competition and my teams from Cheatham County and Franklin High went to the state tournaments in 1992 & 1993 Tee Times: What do you consider the most meaningful and rewarding part of your job? Pam: This role fits me as I love sports and competitions, here I run into old team mates, friends, fellow teachers, coaches and golfers who I have known for 40 years. I serve the best hot dog around! I love cooking, and serving our golfers from the most impeccable grille in town.
Since the onset of the pandemic, Country Hills has spaced out its tee times, implemented new sanitizing procedures, limited capacity at the driving range and, for a four-week period in April and May, shut down the course on Mondays to “take some of the pressure off the course” and allow maintenance staff to work freely, away from customers. “It’s been very busy – maybe overly busy,” Shirley explains. “That being said, we’re still not doing the numbers that we would normally do because we don’t have as many tee times. We’ve been very proactive. We wanted everybody in their own carts. We put the noodles in the cup and we ask everybody to not touch the flag sticks. And we took the rakes out and the ball washers out. “I’m very, very fortunate that we’ve been allowed to stay open the whole
Rusty Pence Hometown: Elkton, Virginia Official Title: Assistant Golf Professional & Director of Instruction Tee Times: How long have you been at Country Hills? Rusty: 16 plus years Tee Times: When did you assume your current role? Rusty: I have been in this same capacity all these years Tee Times: What do you consider the most meaningful and rewarding part of your job? Rusty: My relationship with staff and my students when I help them with their golf swing and improvement to their game, so very rewarding. Especially all the juniors I love to work with! I feel honored to have worked with PGA Professionals over the years, Richard Eller, James Paschal, and now our director of golf, Brad Shirley and head professional Jimbo Hicks. It goes without saying how much other staffers contribute as well, all for the good of our guests who choose to come play here.
time. I give a lot of thanks to the city of Hendersonville for allowing that. There are a lot of people out there who are far less fortunate than we are.” Shirley is always thinking about other people, which is why his small staff has been in place for so long and why customers flock to Country Hills, even with so many other options in the Middle Tennessee area. “We have a lot of regulars and we have a lot of people who come out and return because they really have a good time,” Shirley says. “There’s always going to be better golf courses. There’s always going to be better burgers or better this or that. “When you come out, we want to give you the best service we can and the best product we can because we know there’s choices.” Shirley wants his staff to be on a first-name basis with everyone who walks through the door of the clubhouse. He wants every patron to feel comfortable and relaxed and happy before they walk up to the first tee. And he wants people to know right away that “customers first” isn’t just some sign hanging in the clubhouse – it’s the way life at Country Hills. But make no mistake, Country Hills isn’t lacking in quality just because its staff makes its golfers its first priority. When you golf at Country Hills, you’re getting a quality round on a quality
Rob Phillips Hometown: Hendersonville, Tennessee Official Title: Office Manager Tee Times: How long have you been at Country Hills? Rob: Approximately 19 years Tee Times: When did you assume your current role? Rob: 18 years ago Tee Times: What do you consider the most meaningful and rewarding part of your job? Rob: I relish being able to successfully take on so many different responsibilities. Tee Times: The staff inside and out seems to mesh, explain this, where does this come from? Rob: It comes from sharing a common goal to provide the best golf experience possible for our customers.
course at an affordable price. “We call it ‘Country Thrills,’” says Shirley. “It’s only 6,200 yards from the back, but if you don’t hit in the fairway, you’re going to have an uphill lie or a downhill lie. “We try to make it user-friendly. We cut the rough down quite a bit in the summer. We can make those greens unputtable, but we try to monitor the speed so they’re not too fast. On the weekends, we put the pins in the middle the best we can so everybody who comes out there has a good experience.” Therein lies the crux of Shirley’s business strategy. While other courses may crunch numbers and lean on projections and cut corners to make the numbers work, Shirley understands one very important thing: When you create a great product and a great environment, business follows.
Jerrell Harris Hometown: Huntsville, Alabama Official Title: Pro Shop Manager Tee Times: How long have you been at Country Hills? Jerrell: 6 years and counting Tee Times: When did you assume your current role? Jerrell: 5 years ago Tee Times: What do you consider the most meaningful and rewarding part of your job? Jerrell: I love being around the other staff and I love seeing families come play together. Nothing like seeing a Mom or Dad and the kids out enjoying each other and playing this great game of golf on this wonderful customer oriented course, County Hills
“I think we’ve made a lot of people happy, which is our goal,” he says. “And we’ve created a lot of new golfers. Any time people come out from Brentwood or Franklin or beyond, we really appreciate that. We’ve made some new friends. “I think a lot of people have a lot of fun and that’s what we tell them. Just relax. You’re going to have a good time. We are here to make sure of that.”
Bunker renovations complete at Gaylord Springs By Gregg Dewalt Tee Times Editor The bunker renovation project is complete at the Gaylord Springs Golf Links, and business is getting back to normal. Originally targeted for a Memorial Day weekend completion, the project was finished June 3. The course redid the front nine at one time, and then when it progressed to the back nine it was done a few holes at a time in order to allow players a near 18-hole experience. Now, all 18 holes are open again. Gaylord professional James Paschal said the next step is for the weather to heat up so the Bermuda grass grows in.
James Paschal, PGA In early June the summer weather pattern emerged. “We were waiting on the hot weather to grow in the Bermuda sod,” Paschal said. Like many courses throughout Tennessee, Gaylord has remained open during the coronavirus pandemic, adhering to national guidelines that included social distancing, not touching flagsticks, etc. Paschal said while challenging, the course has operated seemingly as close to normal as possible under trying conditions. Safety of employees and customers remained at the forefront. Also, Paschal said Gaylord Springs is seeing an uptick in participation that is not uncommon as people have emerged from self-isolating. “With 18 holes, a teaching facility, club fittings, driving range and more, Gaylord Springs Golf Links is the perfect course
for players at any skill level, whether beginner, recreational, amateur or professional,” he said. The practice range also got a facelift in addition to the bunker renovations. Paschal reports business has been brisk on the range. “We’re seeing our driving range busier than usual with beginners starting a new hobby or enthusiasts who are a bit rusty coming out again,” he said. Social distancing guidelines remain in place at Gaylord Springs, but Paschal said golfers can expect the same topnotch customer service the facility has become known for. Another sign of life returning to at least a little bit of normalcy is that tournaments and outings are back on the books beginning this month. Paschal expects that aspect of Gaylord’s business to peak in August through October.
From tHE Editor By Gregg Dewalt
Vandy’s good news? Augenstein returning for another year
for a fifth year. I am not content with how this year played out for myself and for my team. There is more work to do.” Augenstein’s return is akin to adding the nation’s top recruit and provides an immediate boost to Vandy’s opportunity to win a national championship. He will again be among the favorites to capture national player of the year honors. He was also a finalist for the 2020 Haskins Award and is currently a finalist for the Ben Hogan and Jack Nicklaus Awards given to the college golfer of the year. Obviously, Limbaugh was happy Augenstein is returning to Vanderbilt. “John is certainly a great player and someone that has given everything he has to Vanderbilt University and our golf program,” Limbaugh told VUcommodores.com. “He represents us all with class and integrity on and off the course. John, like so many, got a lot of
Call it a recruiting coup of sorts for VUcommodores.com. “My Vanderbilt men’s golf coach Scott Lim- four years at Vanderbilt were baugh. everything and more than John Augenstein, one of the nation’s what I dreamed they would top amateurs and a four-time All- be. These last few months America selection, announced in late did not go as planned for any May that he will return to the Commo- of us, and after talking with my family, coaches and close dores for a fifth season. Augenstein, who was named SEC supporters. “I have decided Men’s Player of the Year, qualified for that it would be best for me a fifth year when the NCAA granted to return to Vanderbilt golf spring sports athletes who had their seasons cut short by the coronavirus pandemic an extra year of eligibility. And although the senior from Owensboro, Kentucky, could have turned professional, he opted instead to return for a fifth year. “I came to Vanderbilt on the belief in Coach Limbaugh and what his viJohn Augenstein Coach Limbaugh sion for Vanderbilt Golf was,” Augenstein told
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Vanderbilt’s John Augenstein will return for a fifth year with a chance to earn a fifth straight All-America selection
his senior season taken away, including the SEC and NCAA Championship, and lost a lot of other opportunities including playing in The Masters and U.S. Open. John’s Vanderbilt story is not finished.” Augenstein led the Southeastern Conference in stroke average (69.95) in 2019-20 and he won the Desert Mountain Intercollegiate in Scottsdale, Arizona. He has exemptions into this year’s delayed U.S. Open and Masters.
International flavor in Chattanooga Chattanooga women’s coach Colette Murray continues to dip into the international pool of players to fill out the Mocs roster. Murray recently added four new players to the team, all hailing from Europe. Newcomers include Beatriz Barrios (Spain), Jefimija Dordevic (Serbia), Rachel Thompson (Ireland) and Daphne van Son (Netherlands).
Barrios, Dordevic and van Son will be freshmen. Thompson is classified as a redshirt sophomore. All four bring impressive resumes to Chattanooga. Barrios is No. 259 in the European Golf rankings and seventh on the Spanish Girls Order of Merit. Dordevic is a four-time winner on the Serbian Amateur Tour and has 12 Top-10 finishes in World Amateur Golf Rankings events. Thompson won the 2019 Connacht Women’s Open and is a member of Irish National Team on the both the girls and women’s levels. Van Son has represented the Dutch National Team on the girls and women’s levels, was the 2019 Berlin Junior Internationals Champion and had a top-5 finish in the 2019 Dutch Ladies Amateur tournament. The four newcomers join a nucleus of four returning players, including Esme Hamilton, who tied the school scoring record with her strong finish at the Princess Anne Invitational in the fall, and Hannah Holland, who redshirted this past season. Back to normal? The National Golf Foundation reported in late May that golf courses are open in all 50 states to some degree. So, while it is good that golf is back, restrictions and guidelines remain in place across the country. Many courses still only allow a limited number of people in the golf shop. Tee times in many states are spread out by as much as 16 minutes and it’s still mostly one person per golf car.
An overlooked aspect of the coronavirus shutdown is the loss of revenue that courses have sustained. Most courses are reporting lower sales in their golf shops and food and beverage sales have also suffered, as most offer only take-out service. Instead of having that post-round beer and burger with playing partners, most golfers finish up and head home. Less traffic in golf shops has led to less sales of apparel and equipment/balls. Many courses have lost revenue from canceled or postponed outings. But at least the golf industry is returning somewhat to a sense of normalcy. And that’s a good thing in these uncertain times. Colette Murray
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Virus throws knockout punch at amateurs C
OVID-19 wins again. It already has played havoc with pro and amateur golf by either postponing or cancelling tournaments because of the pandemic. Now it has killed the dream of many golfers, as the USGA decided to cancel the U.S. Open’s 108 local and 12 final qualifying events that lead to a spot in the Open now scheduled for Sept. 17-20 at Winged Foot in New York. The U.S. Open is unique in that any professional or any amateur with a USGA Handicap Index not exceeding 1.4 can try to qualify in hopes of making the Big Show. Last year, Open qualifying attracted 9,125 competitors. In the past 24 years three eventual champions won their way into the tournament via qualifying — Steve Jones in 1996, Michael Campbell in 2005 and Lucas Glover in 2009. “This is a decision that was exceptionally difficult,” John Bodenhamer, the USGA’s senior managing director of championships, said. “The openness of our championships is our DNA — 10,000 people following their dream.” Amateur golfers also took a hit with the Mid-Amateur, Women’s Mid-Amateur, Senior Amateur and Senior Women’s Amateur canceled. They were scheduled in August and September and join six other such tournaments previously canceled. That leaves only four of the 14 planned — the U.S. Women’s Open, U.S. Women’s Amateur and 120th U.S. Amateur in addition to the U.S. Open. One of the greatest stories involving an amateur
playing in the U.S. Open resulted in the book and subsequent movie ‘The Greatest Game Ever Played’ based on the 1913 U.S. Open at Brookline, Mass. Francis Ouimet, an unknown 20-year-old, became the first amateur to win the Open when he defeated legendary British pro Harry Vardon, defending champion John McDermott and Ted Ray in a playoff. With the elimination of local and final qualifying, the U.S. Open is now an all-exempt field of 144 players, trimmed from an original 156 because of reduced daylight as a result of moving the tournament from June to September. Exempt status is granted to the top 60 players in the World Golf Rankings, but points are tougher to obtain because many of the scheduled events have been canceled or moved to later dates than the U.S. Open like the Masters (Nov. 9-15). One of those affected is Phil Mickelson, currently 61st in the rankings. He expected to have ample opportunity to play his way into the field and said earlier he would decline a special exemption needed for him to be in the tournament. Can you image a U.S. Open without Mickelson? I can’t. He has finished second a record six times, including at Winged Foot in 2006. A double-bogey on the final hole kept him from winning that year. He’s missed the cut just three times in 28 U.S. Opens. I expect to see him playing Winged Foot, either by making the Top 60 list or having a change of heart and accepting a special exemption from the USGA. With or without Mickelson, the 2020 edition will be like no other U.S. Open. With New York the state hit the hardest by the virus pandemic, no fans will be allowed, which has become the norm for golf tournaments. Chalk up another victory for COVID-19.
MTSU in Great Hands with McEntire Two years into Mark McEntire’s stint at MTSU and the program’s future is brighter than ever
By Justin Onslow Tee Times Associate Editor It’s not easy leaving a successful college golf program after 13 years at the helm. More difficult still is leaving for another program eight hours away – and uprooting family in the process – to replenish a depleted roster and lead a team to an improbable conference championship. It’s the stuff of sports movies instead of reality, yet that’s what Mark McEntire did. The 43-year-old head coach of Middle Tennessee State’s men’s golf program, who assumed the role in July of 2018 after holding the reigns at the College of Charleston for 13 years, had a lot of work to do to even field a team after the departure of Brennan Webb to the University of Tennessee. When Webb left, six of his players followed him to UT, meaning McEntire would be faced with dubious challenges from the very start. After having to cancel MTSU’s participation in a tournament McEntire himself started at the Ocean Course in Charleston, he and his staff went to work on finding the right fits to give his team a chance at competing in 2019. “We didn’t even have enough people the first year,” he says. “We had a couple kids that were injured, and we were redshirting one. Our compliance staff helped us get two kids here from the Nashville area so we could have a team in the fall. At the break, we were able to pick up a young man from Vanderbilt named Cooper Sears, and we decided to pull the redshirt off Marcus Byrd and we ended up winning the conference championship, which was pretty remarkable.” Remarkable indeed, but not quite unbelievable when you consider that McEntire left Charleston with a loaded roster he built with limited resources. At MTSU, McEntire has more resources to work with – namely, a strong alumni base – which is something that drew him to the program in the first place. “The unique thing that really drew me to MTSU was the alumni support,” he explains. “When you go anywhere in Murfreesboro, you see people wearing the logo, wearing our shirts. You drive to campus and see all the signs that say ‘go blue.’ ‘Our town, our team’ – the slogan we have here at MTSU – is really true. Everybody believes in it. Everybody backs you.” That support has made recruiting a lot
(L-R) Head Coach Mark McEntire, James Beckner, Palmer Sadlowski, Marcus Byrd, Cooper Sears, Tanner Owens, Ken Bulle, assistant Coach and Mark Lester, volunteer assistant
easier for McEntire, who hit the ground running when it came to drawing talent to the Nashville-area mid-major. He has support and he has a plan, not to mention the strong foundation 2019’s Conference USA championship established. McEntire’s approach to recruiting is underlined by his mind for business, which he admits is one of the tenets of his coaching philosophy. “Every year as I’m continuing to grow my business, I’ve got to recruit and add people,” he says. “I don’t necessarily look for the best player in every state. I’m looking for someone who can fill a hole.” With that idea in mind, McEntire has a 250-mile radius around Middle Tennessee
Coach McEntire with wife, Meredith and sons, Ford and Grayson
for recruiting golfers eligible for in-state tuition. That circle includes seven states, which he says is plenty of area from which to attract tremendous talent. With “holes” on the current roster filled, McEntire plans to turn his attention to just finding the best players available. “This year, we needed some experience,” he adds. “We got four freshmen, but we went out and got a transfer who had just transferred from Lipscomb. You add some experience with a young team, so now I’ve got two seniors instead of one. That was our need this year. “Next year, we don’t need anything. We’re going to go out and find the best player who wants to come to MTSU. The highest-ranked player we feel like can grow our brand and help us, that’s who we’re going to get.” Of course, recruiting is only a small part of what makes a successful collegiate coach. McEntire checks that box, but he’s also established a culture of making academics just as important as succeeding on
Whit Turnbow/President, Tennessee Golf Foundation
the course. He challenges his players to maintain a 3.8 team GPA and boasts five players with a perfect 4.0 GPA. Now especially, as the season is on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, academics is McEntire’s emphasis. “We just told our players, turn your focus right now on school,” he says. “That’s the only thing you can control. It’s important and a priority.” McEntire’s steady hand and methodic, business-minded approach is a good sign for MTSU’s golf program when the world comes out on the other side of the pandemic. He’s keeping his players focused on what’s important, but he’s also excited about what the future holds. “The world needs sports. We need sports.” Just as the world needs a return to sports, MTSU needed McEntire – the recruiter, the coach, the molder of young minds and the steady hand to see the program through what was at the time of his hire and unforeseeable challenge. “Mark was the perfect fit for Middle Tennessee,” says, former MTSU player, assistant coach, head coach, Senior Associate AD of MTSU and President of the Tennessee Golf Foundation, Whit Turnbow. “So many tremendous coaches have played a part in bringing the program to where it is today, dating back to Coach Midgett. Mark is a quality guy, who can engage the community and recruit top-notch kids that the university will be proud of.” McEntire is controlling what he can control, and he’s not without challenges when the golf world again finds a sense of normalcy. The biggest of those challenges involves finding a way to one-up his firstyear success and keep the momentum train rolling as the head of Conference USA’s defending champions.
Gilliam hopes to build on sensational freshman year at Mississippi State By Gregg Dewalt Tee Times Editor Manchester’s Ashley Gilliam encountered a recent dilemma that only could occur in these strangest of times. Playing with her sister and father at her home course – Lakewood Country Club – Gilliam launched her second shot on a par-4. It tracked the pin, bounced and rolled up and clanked against the raised cup. Under normal circumstances – with the cup nestled in the ground – the ball would have either settled into the bottom of the cup for an eagle 2 or hit the pin and bounced away. The shot would have had a definitive result. With different guidelines in place due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic – like raising the cup to avoid golfers from touching the flagstick - the result was a little murkier. Was it an eagle or not? “I would say no because it could bounce off the pin, but I don’t know,” Gilliam said recently, pondering the question for a second. “I think I did write down an eagle because my dad was up there and he said it did slowly roll into the middle. I was also playing my sister, so I said that’s an eagle. It was a good shot, though, so we’ll take the eagle.” That has been about the only thing perplexing for Gilliam in the past year as she transitioned from junior/high school golf into one of the brightest true freshmen golfers in the country. Gilliam recently completed her first year at Mississippi State, and her results definitely lived up to expectations. In late May, Gilliam was named first-team All-SEC after previously garnering thirdteam All-America and honorable mention All-America status from different entities. Along the way, Gilliam set the program record for scoring average (70.61), which was second in the SEC and sixth nationally. She had three top three finishes and four top 10s. Her first-year performance, though, didn’t surprise coach Ginger BrownLemm. “I expected Ashley to have a season like this,” Brown-Lemm said. “I’ve seen her play for at least four years prior to joining us at Mississippi State. She is an athlete that works very hard on her craft. Her dedication to the mental game, small details of scoring, her commitment to nutrition, strength and conditioning and thriving in an elite team environment were all factors in her development. She has grown as a person and as a player and
that really came out in her performances.” Gilliam said the adjustment to playing college golf wasn’t overwhelming, and she credited her extensive junior experience as one reason why. “I played a lot of competitive golf as a junior – AJGA at a high level and played in a lot of USGA events,” she said. “I felt like I had a lot of preparation coming into college.” Gilliam’s adjustment to college golf was likely easier given her close relationship with Mississippi State’s program. Even though her mother played at Ole Miss, Gilliam committed to the Bulldogs as a freshman in high school. She stayed true to that commitment despite interest from other SEC schools. It helped that a friend – Aubree Jones from Covington – was already committed to the Bulldogs at that time. Jones recently completed her junior season at MSU. Gilliam said it didn’t take much to convince her that Mississippi State was the right place to continue her education and playing career. “I went on a visit to Mississippi State and fell in love with Starkville and the pro-
gram,” she said. “Coach Brown and the chemistry she has on the team, the practice facilities. It’s just a great place. It feels like I have been down here for way longer (than one year). I felt like Starkville was my second home already so there wasn’t really any change.” Gilliam’s coach is VJ Trolio at Old Waverly, one of Mississippi State’s home courses. Mossy Oak, it’s companion course across the street, is home base for the Bulldogs’ state-of-the-art practice facility. While still in high school Gilliam made the trek south to visit Trolio, who has worked with MSU alum and current LPGA player Ally McDonald. “He’s not too technical and explains things really well,” Gilliam said. Gilliam’s freshman year highlight was helping Mississippi State win its final tournament of the spring before college athletics were shut down. The victory at the Westbrook Spring Invitational in Peoria, Arizona, was the first for MSU since 2014 and Gilliam’s tie for second place at 13-under-par was her best of the season. The tournament field included SEC foes Tennessee and Missouri, several Big Ten teams and also Oklahoma. “That wasn’t a typical tournament,” she said. “Our practice round got rained out, so we walked the course and got to putt. We didn’t get to hit any tee shots or anything. We had to grind it out and not let it affect us. It really showed that we could get out there and win under any circumstances. Ending the season with a win was a good to end it. It was a good way to end it even though our season did get
Manchester’s Ashley Gilliam earned first-team All-SEC honors and also was a third-team AllAmerica selection.
Ginger Brown-Lemm, PGA- Head Coach cut short.” Since the season ended, Gilliam has tried to keep to as normal of a routine as possible. She works out at home, plays and practices at Lakewood CC, and makes frequent trips to Starkville to work with Trolio. Her summer schedule remains in flux because of the uncertainty going forward on what events will be available. And, she’s looking forward to her sophomore season to see what it has in store. Brown-Lemm has an idea of what that entails. “Ashley is the total package,” she said. “With the support of the team of coaches and trainers here at Mississippi State, her commitment and competitive drive, she can go as far as she sets her mind to. She absolutely has what it takes.”
Ross Creek Landing could reopen in September By Gregg Dewalt Tee Times Editor CLIFTON, Tenn. – Plans are in place and work is proceeding in an effort to reopen one of the original Bear Trace golf courses. Business partners Fred Gillham and Tommy Tinin confirmed recently they hope to have Ross Creek Landing open by September. The course, one of five built by the State of Tennessee that opened in 2001, closed in 2013. Before it closed, it was largely considered the best of the Bear Trace courses and earned numerous honors, including being named Tennessee’s No. 1 public course by Golfweek. If it does reopen, it will not be considered one of the current Bear Trace courses that are operated by the state. It stretches to 7,131 yards from the tips and has a slope rating of 132. The course’s out-of-the-way location and the golf industry’s stagnation were the primary reasons for the closure. Af-
fordable pricing and a fun, challenging layout led to rave reviews by most players. Gillham and Tinin are seeking help from the City of Clifton and the Wayne County (Tennessee) commission in the form of tax abatements they say will help them get the course open. Tinin said there is about a “90” percent chance the course will reopen as soon as September. Tinin said the course’s front nine is in relatively good shape, pointing out they kept it mowed. The back nine was left mostly unkempt during the closure. “We kept the front nine sprayed and mowed,” he said. “If you drive by, it looks like we are still open. The back nine will take a little more work to get it open. The bunkers, there’s not a lot to do with them. Mostly we have to shape them back up a little. We don’t have to do any dirt work.”
Jack Nicklaus and Vince Gill played the inaugural round at Ross Creek Landing. After being closed for seven years, the course in Clifton could reopen as soon as September. Joe Hall, Tee Times Publisher
cannot hide his enjoyment!
According to Tinin, the biggest project will be renovating the greens, which were sprayed recently to kill weeds. He said the plan is to replace what once were bentgrass greens with a more heat tolerant Bermuda grass. Ross Creek Landing’s rustic clubhouse, a modest structure that featured a grill and golf shop, has been maintained throughout the closure, hosting events such as wine tastings and parties. The property also features four cabins that can accommodate up 10-to-12 people each, Tinin said. Gillham said he bought the course from the state for $2 million. He kept it open for three years before closing the doors in 2013. Why are they trying to re-open now? Tinin said plans were beginning to take shape before the coronavirus pandemic hit. “We just didn’t think the timing was right until now,” he said. “The economy was doing good and play was picking up at other courses. Then COVId-19 hit.” The only other course in Wayne County is Waynesboro Municipal.
By sliding the green to the right, the front was still on the water, but now the putting surface also had the hazard in play all along the right side. The new configuration places a premium on both distance and accuracy on the last full shot of the day.” -Bill Bergin , ASGCA
Fox Den Country Club
A club the whole family can enjoy By David Theoret Tee Times Contributor To say Chester A. Massey was a golf enthusiast would be like saying the Titanic was a boat. Massey, an insurance executive from Knoxville, had a dream to build one of the finest golf courses in America in east Tennessee. He spent several years and a lot of miles researching the project, country club planning, and management. Massey visited dozens of properties and spoke to many club managers and head professionals before selecting a piece of property west of Knoxville on which to build his dream course and master-planned community. William Byrd was selected to design and build the course and felt that Fox Den was one of the most beautiful pieces of land he’d worked on, featuring everything like rolling hills, beautiful wooded areas, and long fairway stretches, all with the Great Smoky Mountains serving as a backdrop. He felt that “It will be one of the most exacting and exciting 18 holes in America.” The first nine holes opened for play on May 15, 1969. Massey remodeled the Oliver Kermit Everett farmhouse into the club’s first clubhouse and pro shop; it opened in March 1969. The second clubhouse – which is now the fitness center – opened in May 1971. The clubhouse that you see today was the result of
a $4 million project approved by the membership in 1994. In 2004, Bill Bergin completely redesigned the golf course, significantly enhancing an already outstanding layout. During the renovation, Bergin resurfaced all the greens and reshaped most of them, added several new bunkers, updated the drainage system and installed new cart paths. In 2011, Bergin was back to rebuild all 56 bunkers on the course. From the back tees, where the Korn Ferry Tour pros played from for 21 years while it hosted the Knoxville Open - Fox Den plays 7,110 yards with a course rating of 74.7 and a slope of 137. The back tees feature more forced carries and more difficult angles into greens. Most members typically play from the White (6,434/71.5/132) or the Green (5,836/68.7/128) tees. Ladies will have an enjoyable time from either the Blue (5,279/71.1/123) or the Silver tees (4,718/68.1/120). There’s also a “combo” tee on the scorecard called the “Partners” tee. Choose the distance that best suits your game and you’re bound to have a good time. When it doubt, “Play it Forward!” Just as Willard Byrd promised when he built the course originally, there are plenty of rolling hills and beautiful
ays and The classy clubhouse looks out to water, fairw s view king thta brea n, gree 18 the No.
wooded areas. Water comes into play on several holes, but not in areas where you can’t see it. Fairway bunkers have been strategically Danny Ackerman, PGA, Head Golf Professional placed and for the most part, are reachable regardless of the tees you’re playing. Most of the fairway bunkers, although on the peripheries of the fairway have large lips and are fairly penal in nature. The Bentgrass greens are moderately fast and roll true with subtle undulations. Fox Den Country Club is good from the start. The first hole is a dogleg right, par 5 that plays 482 yards. Tee off from an elevated tee box downhill to a landing area with a large deciduous tree on the right and fairway bunkers left. Long hitters can carry the tree, giving themselves an opportunity to go for the green in two. The green is elevated and well protected with deep-lipped bunkers. The second hole is a downhill 162-yard par 3 over water to an angled green protected by bunkers front left and behind. When Bill Bergin was asked for There’s a bailout area right of the green comments on Fox Den’s design, and if you feel the need. his take on the No. 18 finishing hole, The third hole is a gentle dogleg right he said... that plays 356 yards and plays longer “I did two projects at Fox Den, a because it is uphill. Trees guard the quick, but major renovation over right side off the tee with out of bounds the summer of 2004, and a full on either side. You’ll need to carry your bunker redo in 2011. The bunker approach shot on to the green because redo came about partially because of the positioning of the deep-lipped the club liked the work I did at Chatbunkers around it. Par is a good score tanooga G&CC and they wanted that here. type of bunker at Fox Den. Fox Den features plenty of amenities for instructional purposes, such as a teaching center, full-length range, short game area and a 10,000-square foot put- from companies like Titleist, Ping, and ting green that has all the undulations to Callaway. In addition to golf, the club features get you ready for the course. seven tennis courts, pickleball and a fitPGA Professional Danny Ackerman heads a fully-stocked golf shop featuring ness center. For more information on Fox Den popular brands such as FootJoy, Under Armour, Polo Ralph Lauren, Cutter & Country Club go to www.foxdencounBuck and the latest golf club technology tryclub.com.
Nolan Ray has the Right Stuff
Lipscomb transfer has sights set on professional golf career By Justin Onslow Tee Times Associate Editor The physical tools it takes to be a successful golfer in the collegiate ranks are gifted to many. What separates the good from the great and the success stories from failure lies between the ears. By that measure, Nolan Ray is great, and his success story is just beginning. Some in Tennessee may recognize Ray from his victory in the Tennessee State Amateur Championship last August. Others know him as a former standout at the University of Tennessee, and others still know Ray as the redshirt senior who transferred to Lipscomb University for one last shot at collegiate golf glory and to complete his master’s degree and be closer to home. All of those footnotes in Ray’s story are accurate, as is the fact that he holds Brentwood High
School’s all-time record for ninehole scoring average (34.5). And that he was well on his way to another tremendously successful college golf season in 2020 before it was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic. Ray has found success, and it has little to do with his 6’3”, 180-pound frame or his ability to hit draws and fades and fairways. Sure, that’s obviously an important part of it all, but the 24-year-old soon-to-be certified public accountant has gotten to where he is now – and is on his way to where he wants to be – thanks to maturity beyond his years. He’s got the right stuff between the tee markers and between his ears.
Learning from Disappointment Ray joined Tennessee’s golf program straight out of high school, but his college career began with disappointment. In-
stead of competing for the program, he was redshirted and spent his entire freshman year watching from the sidelines. “Honestly, I was disappointed,” admits Ray. “Like any other freshman, I wanted to go there and play golf and help the team and be a part of the team. I think it’d be weird if you didn’t have those aspirations. “It was a little bit of a disappointment for me, but I learned from it. I tell people all the time when they start freshman year that Nolan Ray wins you just don’t think it’s the 2019 104th Tennessee State going to be that different, Amateur at but it’s the little things Honors Course that add up that you didn’t have to do at home that really catch you.” after the 2019 season. Instead, In retrospect, Ray is thankful he made a measured, calculated for that redshirt season to get decision in choosing to wait. his collegiate legs under him. He Prioritizing school and a strong doesn’t see setbacks as failures foundation for the future first, so much as opportunities. the Brentwood native trans“Looking back now, five years ferred closer to home to earn his later, I am beyond thankful I master’s in accounting and play redshirted,” he adds. “I didn’t one more season, this time at choose to, but I’m so thankful I Lipscomb. did. It was just another year to “I love Tennessee,” he says. “I adapt. There’s not many times wouldn’t change it (his career) in golf you get an entire year to for anything. One of the bigmaster your craft and to have a gest reasons I transferred was year to pick apart your swing I was already a little bit old for and be honest with yourself.” my grade going into college Following that redshirt season, and then I redshirted. We had a Ray went on to have three ter- young team, and I felt like I was rific years as a key member of in a different phase of life. I was UT’s golf team. As a sophomore, just ready to come home. Profeshe posted a 73.47 scoring aver- sional golf was definitely on my age and turned in three top-25 mind, and I always wanted to be finishes. Following a somewhat in Nashville when I turn pro.” less impressive junior season, So, Ray made the move to NashRay carried a career-best 72.89 ville to prioritize the things that scoring average in 27 rounds matter most to him. over nine tournaments – an ex“I figured out that my environclamation point on what was al- ment was a huge thing for me,” ready a fine career. he adds. “I guess to boil it down, But following 2019, Ray wasn’t I figured that my priorities are looking back on any of it. He was golf, school and friends and famlooking ahead in a way most ily, and I felt like when I came people not yet old enough to home, I could focus on those prirent a car are capable of. orities a little bit better.” So much so that Ray is just a The Next Step couple months from his master’s Ray aspires to play profession- degree, which he admits will be al golf, and he very easily could beneficial whether he makes it have opted to try his hand at Q in professional golf or not. School and a professional career “I haven’t given career pros-
Brentwood High School & Junior Golf • Collected two top-five finishes in American Junior Golf Association tournaments • Tied for 29th in the Rolex Tournament of Champions • Lettered five seasons at Brentwood High School, team captain during his senior year • Holds the Brentwood High scoring average record with a 34.5 average over nine holes
“Nolan has been an awesome example of the type of young men we recruit at Lipscomb. I’m so proud of him as a player and even prouder of the man he has become.” - Coach Will Brewer
pects as far as not being golf much thought,” he says. “I do like that I have it in my back pocket so I can decide what I want to do if golf is not the route that works out for me.” It’s hard to see that happening, though, when you consider Ray’s work ethic and even-keeled approach to everything he does.
University of Tennessee A graduate transfer and alum of University of Tennessee, touting All SEC Academic Honor rolls for all four years. Lipscomb University
Coach Will Brewer
Keeping It in Perspective “It’s like anything else,” Ray posits. “You have ups and downs. My dad always told me ‘never let your highs get too high and never let your lows get too low.’ “If you go out and shoot 10 under or 11 under, that’s not every day. If that’s every day, you’re the best golfer who’s ever lived. For me, if I go out and shoot a couple over and don’t play good, that’s not every day, either. Everything comes back to that middle point.” That middle point is the point around which Ray’s life revolves, though he’s always looking to move that point forward every day. In school, his homework is done before he hits the road for a tournament. When he practices, Ray is all about efficiency and not wasting time. No extreme highs. No extreme lows. “I go to the golf course and see a lot of younger guys go for five, six hours and just practice,” he says. “In my mind, it just doesn’t take that long. If I go to the golf course and I’m going to practice that day, I have a list of things I’m going to do, and if it takes me an hour, it takes me an hour. If it takes three, it takes three.” That’s not to say Ray doesn’t prioritize practice, though, because oftentimes practice is what he’s doing when no one else is.
“You just have a limited amount of time in day,” he explains. “Certain things are set in stone, like when you’ve got to go to class or maybe when practices are or when workouts are. Those moments that are free are where I feel like you either pick up ground or lose ground. It’s those three, four, five hours free and you have to choose how to spend them is how you separate yourself.”
A Follower and a Leader The best leaders are often those who first learned to be a follower and remember what it’s like to be the latter. At Lipscomb, Ray has had an opportunity to be a leader, and he hasn’t taken that role lightly. “I was nervous coming into Lipscomb,” he says. “I didn’t want to be that guy who comes in for the fifth year and be the one-anddone guy. I really wanted to connect with those guys and help them any way I can, because the better they play, the better I play and the better we play. “I wanted to be a part of that team. I can be the best leader I can be, and if they’re not receptive, it doesn’t matter. They were extremely receptive, and when it comes to leadership, I think I did a good job, but I don’t think it would have mattered if they weren’t receptive.”
• Ray played for Lipscomb University in seven tournaments and took home two individual titles in the Lone Star Invitational and Autotrader Collegiate Classic. • Ray had five top-10 finishes in seven tournaments
• Nolan Ray was the ASUN Player of the Week three times and led the conference in stroke average with 70.45, just missing Lipscomb’s Dawson Armstrong’s all-time school record of 70.25
Ray credits his teammates in the same way he credits his father and the same way he credits his coach. He’s never one to take sole credit for his success. “My dad’s played a big role in my golf career,” he says. “My dad’s been there. You see a lot of parents living vicariously through their kids or maybe getting too happy when they play good or too mad when they play bad. I could go out and shoot 95 tomorrow and if I don’t act bad, he’s fine. “I’m just so grateful for him. He was always a steady hand and a steady head. I’d talk to him after great rounds and he’d [tell me] I’ve got to look forward to tomorrow, and after bad rounds he’d say the same thing. It would have been easy for him to ride the rollercoaster with me.” Likewise, Ray praises Lipscomb head coach Will Brewer for believing in him enough to add Ray to an already loaded roster. “Him having the confidence taking a fifth-year senior, and the second I got there I could tell he believed in me,” he says. “It went a long way. He was just kind of there, that positive voice the entire year, and I appreciate that. “I couldn’t talk to him during the transfer process, so I kind of had to take a chance that he would take me, because that’s really where I wanted to go. That
meant a lot because it wasn’t a guarantee. They already had a big team, and they had to find room for another guy.” But Ray has never been just “another guy.” And as much as he’d like to prove that in the professional golf world, the fact that he’s being patient and doing it right is all the proof he needs.
Making It “I don’t have a timeline right now, but I’m 100 percent going to pursue professional golf at some point, whether that be here in a couple months or maybe a little bit longer – whenever the water clears up a bit and I can figure out what I think the best path is,” Ray says. “I’m definitely going to do it at some point.” There’s not a question in Ray’s mind that he’s going to turn pro and make it. That’s the future middle point for him – highs and lows be damned. “I’m just trying to put myself in the best position to do whatever it is I can do,” he adds. “If I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it right.” So far in Ray’s life – golf career and otherwise – that’s absolutely been the case. He’ll credit his upbringing and he’ll credit coaching and everything but himself, but what it all comes down to is this: Ray has the right stuff, and he’s making the most of it.
Lackey bringing personal touch to the Golf Club of Tennessee By Justin Onslow Tee Times Associate Editor The best golfers in the world don’t necessarily make the best golf instructors. To be a great teacher, one has to not only love the game of golf but also the art of teaching. And teaching effectively is all about caring for one’s students. Enter Brian Lackey, Director of Instruction at the Golf Club of Tennessee. Lackey is a great golfer, yes, but his role at the Golf Club of Tennessee isn’t about that. To Lackey, it’s all about making every one of his up to 10 or 11 students a day feel like they’re the only student on his calendar. “We all need to put food on the table, but that’s not really what it’s about for me,” says Lackey. “It’s not about the money as much as it is developing the relationships and trying to make sure I’m nourishing that person and helping them to believe more in themselves.” Teachers are inherently the giving type – giving of their time and their patience and their attention. And for Lackey, that’s what matters most when he’s giving instruction to his many students. “It’s an investment of yourself into somebody else’s life and making sure it’s quality and it’s not just, ‘hey, you’ve got to hurry up and get out of here because I’ve got the next guy coming in the door,’” he adds. “I hate for people feel rushed during a lesson. It feels like a revolving door, but I try to make sure everybody who walks through the door knows I have their undivided attention.” In coaching students of all ages, Lackey also understands that just as every person is different, so is every golf swing. He sees about 45 students a week, each with different needs. And while being patient and kind and giving is a tenet of teaching, so is being effective when it comes to subject matter. For that, Lackey leans on a specific philosophy. “We take what a player has and we modify that,” he explains. “You’re taking that player’s strengths and using the strengths to enhance the weak areas. “I tell people all the time, I’m going to fit your golf swing like I’m going to fit you for a set of golf clubs. You have to take what a player has and find the swing that fits them instead of trying to fit that player into a swing.”
Sawyer Porch Age 13
are just starting their relationship with the game of golf. It’s often those students who reaffirm why Lackey chose to be a golf instructor. “I had a kid in today – not really a golfer, but he wanted to play because his sister plays and so they play as a family – and when he made contact and finally hit one the way he thought he could or should, he had a big smile on his face,” Lackey says. “I looked at his dad and said, ‘people ask all the time why I do this and that’s why I do this right there.’” The results of Lackey’s work are apparent to his students, but they’re
Tennessee top-10 teaching pro Brian Lackey works with students of all ages and genders.
Gavin Clements Rising Sophomore at MTSU
Anne Griffin Age 15
The Golf Club of Tennessee is the perfect facility for that approach. With an indoor-outdoor practice area and plenty of room – all dedicated to golf and not tennis and swimming pools, unlike many private clubs – students can focus of every aspect of their swings. “Being able to attract better players to this facility gives us a lot more to do as far as short game work,” he says. “We have one of the best short game facilities I’ve seen – maybe the best short game facility in the state. It’s been a lot more enjoyable for me because it gives me an opportunity to work on the parts of the game that matter most.” While Lackey says the Golf Club of Tennessee boasts upwards of 100 members who are scratch golfers and another 100 with single-digit handicaps, those aren’t the only students Lackey works with. The club also allows him to see non-member students and many of his students – member or otherwise –
Brian Lackey, PGA, Director of Instruction also apparent to the men and women who selected him to Golf Digest’s “The Best Teachers in Your State” for 20192020 – an accolade Lackey is proud of but also downplays in his modesty. “We have a lot of golf courses and we have a lot of great teachers in Middle Tennessee: Joe Hallett, Matt Walter, Virgil Herring. You’ve got a lot of guys in the area that are good, reputable teachers,” he says. “To be on a list with those guys is awesome. Those things are always nice to know that your peers see you as a reputable teacher and they want to award you.” The accolades and awards are meant to recognize Lackey for his great work, but it’s Lackey himself who sums up what he does better than any award could. “Watching that player achieve their goals is what makes me probably the happiest as an instructor,” he explains. “To know I can create some enjoyment for a player to make the game easier and a lot more fun to play. Seeing a player enjoy the game a lot more is really why I do it.”
1.) Joe Hallett, Vanderbilt Legends C., Franklin 2.) Matt Killen, Troubadour G. & Field C., College Grove 3.) Rob Akins, Rob Akins Golf Academy at Spring Creek Ranch, Collierville 4.) Brian Lackey, G.C. of Tennessee, Kingston Springs 5.) Nancy Quarcelino, Gaylord Springs G. Links, Nashville 6.) Virgil Herring, Ensworth Golf Center, Nashville 7.) Henrik Simonsen, The Honors C., Ooltewah 8.) Matt Walter, Vanderbilt Legends C., Franklin 9.) Ben Pellicani, Westhaven G.C., Franklin 10.) Walt Chapman, Fairways and Greens, Knoxville 11.) Brad Redding, Target Golf Practice and Training Facility, Knoxville 12.) Jake Reeves, Fox Den C.C., Knoxville 13.) Gaylon Cude, Golf House Tennessee Learning Center, Franklin 14.) Jex Wilson, Old Fort G.C., Murfreesboro
Man behind the mic
Darren Reese’s quarantine chats kept golf in the conversation during height of the coronavirus pandemic By Gregg Dewalt Tee Times Editor
but he learned how starved the Tennessee golf community is for news. “The biggest thing I learned is how engaged Keeping golf at the forefront of conversathe golf community is in Tennessee,” Reese tions at the height of the coronavirus pansaid. “I don’t know why that is compared to demic proved to be not that difficult of a some other states around us. It seems like job for Darren Reese. we have a tight-knit golf community and All it took for the Tennessee Golf Assoeverybody is interested in what everybody ciation’s director of communication was a is doing. That was good to see from my perlittle ingenuity, some broadcasting equipspective.” ment and an eager audience. Reese had Reese said he tried to get a variety of all of that at his disposal, and in a matter guests for the chats to make sure all parts of days the TGA’s nightly video chats were of the game were covered. Among his favorlaunched via the organization’s social meite guests were University of Tennessee golf dia platforms to great success. coach Brennan Webb, Collins and Henley. During those April “Facebook Live QuarWebb’s segment attracted approximately antine Chats”, Reese engaged in some fas2000 views. Henley’s segment last about cinating conversations with a wide array an hour and 45 minutes, and Reese enjoyed of golf industry types. Reese chatted and talking with Collins, who detailed the rise TGA Director of Communications Darren Reese, left, viewers emailed questions for guests rangof Sweetens Cove to almost cult-like status. video chats with PGA Tour caddie Kip Henley ing from junior and college players, college When the series of chats ended, Reese had coaches, Sweetens Cove designer Rob Collins and current PGA Tour caddie/former Big interviewed approximately 27 guests, including five college coaches and recent PGA Break winner Kip Henley. Champions Tour winner Doug Barron. It all started with a conversation between Reese and TGA executive director Chad Reese arrived at Golf House in 2018 after spending 15 years in the newspaper busiAnderson. ness in east Tennessee. He played junior golf, so there is a built-in passion to hear “Chad came to me and told me that we might be out for a while, and I needed to find stories about the game. some ways to engage with people and get some content to put out on social media,” The chats were pushed across a variety of social media platforms in addition to Reese said. “I was sitting in here one day – we had just ordered some podcast equipFacebook, so they were widely available. Viewers also were able to submit questions. ment – Chad wanted to start a podcast here through the Tennessee Golf Association. The quarantine chats ended once things began to get back to normal We had the soundboard and the microphone laying around. I hooked it up to my comaround the state. puter. I got on Twitter and said, ‘Hey, anybody want to get on and talk about golf?’” “I could have kept it going for a long time,” said Reese, who The response to Reese’s plea was overwhelming. is 38 years old and juggles a variety of duties for the other “Within no time I had all kinds of people – coaches, junior golfers, senior golfers, all organizations at Golf House. He also handles social media for kinds of people saying hey, I’ll get on and talk with you. It kind of grew from there. Once the Simmons Bank Open, Nashville’s Korn Ferry Tour stop. I kind of put it out there and people saw we were doing it, I had all kinds of people volReese hopes to find a way to incorporate more chats into unteering to come on and talk.” his routine as time allows – whether on a weekly basis or a Anderson said Reese turned a negative situation into a positive. couple of times per week. “When strange situations occur, like COVID, you never know. what positives will “There is no shortage of guests out there,” he said. come from it,” he said. “Darren was able to keep our golfers engaged by giving some Anderson was happy that Reese was able to keep golf of our great golf personalities a platform to tell stories. His Facebook Live quarantine in the conversation during the height of the panTennessee Golf Association chats were a huge hit and received thousands of views. People were requesting to be demic. Chad AndersonExecutive Director a guest, listeners were asking who was our next guest, it was wild.” “We are thankful for those who Lynne Howd - Director, Handicapping Anderson likened the chats to pre-television days. came on to chat with Allison Brown - Senior Director, Rules & Competitions “Everyone was sitting around the house with nowhere to go and sports weren’t on Darren,” he said. “DarTV - it was like we were living in the 1940’s and our entertainment came from the ren truly is one of the Nathaniel Hantle - Director, Course Rating & Member Services Darren Reese - Director, Marketing & Communications radio,” he said. best in the country at Not only did Reese become more tech savvy while getting the chats up and running, what he does.” Jeff Giedd - Director, Rules & Competitions
Lance Simpson wins the 2020 Tennessee Boys Junior PGA Championship OLD HICKORY, Tenn. – Lance Simpson said all he did while being quarantined for the COVID-19 pandemic was “golf, golf and golf.” It obviously helped keep his game in good form for this week’s Tennessee Junior PGA Championship at Old Hickory Country Club. Simpson, a rising senior at Farragut High School, fired a two-day total of 10-under, 132 to run away with the tournament title by eight strokes over runner-up Riley Grindstaff of Thompson’s Station. “It feels good to finally get back on the course again, because I can play tournament golf and do what I love,” Simpson said. “It feels really good to win the first tournament of the year. It gives me a lot of motivation for the rest of the season.” Simpson had just a one-stroke lead as he made the turn to his final nine of the championship Tuesday afternoon. Just in time, though, he caught fire and started to pull away. The University of Tennessee commitment played his final ten holes in six-under par, with four straight birdies on holes 9-12 and then back-to-back on 17 and 18. Simpson finished the tournament with 13
Lance Simpson wins the 2020 Tennessee Boys Junior PGA Championship
birdies in two rounds. He opened with a 3-under, 68 on Monday and followed that up with a 7-under, 64 to finish. Tuesday’s effort broke the tournament record for lowest final 18-hole score by the eventual champion. Simpson also broke the record for biggest winning margin (8, previous was 6) and tied the tournament mark for lowest total score relative to par (132). “I was able to capitalize on making birdies when I needed to,” Simpson said. Grindstaff made three birdies on his final
nine to rally for a second-place finish at twounder, 140 (70-70). Three players tied for third, including Reece Britt of Maryville (72-69), J.J. Zimmer of Humboldt (71-70) and Sheldon McKnight of Ooltewah (69-72).
www.teetimespaper.com Jon Wesley Lovelace of Kingsport and Gray Campbell of Humboldt tied for sixth at 142, Bo Maradik of Nashville and Nicklaus Etherton of Friendsville tied for eighth at 143, and Edward Hull of Nashville and Carson Kammann of Knoxville tied for 10th at 144.
Lynn Lim wins the 2020 Tennessee Girls Junior PGA Championship
OLD HICKORY, Tenn.— After a long layoff from competitive golf, Lynn Lim wasn’t sure what to expect from her game. Before her opening round in the Tennessee Girls’ Junior PGA Championship at Old Hickory Country Club on Monday, she predicted she might shoot an 85. Needless to say, she exceeded her expectations. Lim, a Class of 2022 standout from Gallatin, turned in a two-day total of two-under, 140 to win the tournament for the second time in three years. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been out here playing tournaments, so I wasn’t really planning on winning,” Lim said. “Most of it was trying to get back into the groove of things. I’m glad to have it in the bag. It was super fun and it was nice to see all my friends who live out of town.” “I’m just kind of like a go-with-the-flow type of person, which is why I was like ‘I’m going to shoot an 85’. I don’t have any expectations when I’m out here. I’m just trying to play my game and have as much fun as I can.” Lim opened the tournament with a twounder, 69 to hold a three-stroke lead over
Lynn Lim wins the 2020 Tennessee Girls Junior PGA Championship
rising Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett senior Isabella van der Biest. Tuesday’s final round got off to an inauspicious start for Lim as she bogeyed the first hole and saw van der Biest play the opening three holes in one-under to pull within a stroke. However, Lim got a stroke back with a birdie on No. 4 and increased her lead to four by the turn. Another Gallatin standout, Kynadie Adams, made a hard charge on the back nine and got to within two strokes of the lead with birdies on 12 and 14. That was as close as she got, though, as Lim closed things out with three straight pars. Lim admitted that it was fun being back on the course after the long hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “I slept a lot,” she laughed. “I practiced a little bit, but I wasn’t trying to kill myself over it. My country club had its regulations and I was just trying to be in shape and keep things moving.” “Just being able to see my friends again (was the highlight). It’s been months since I’ve got to see them in person. Usually by this time of year I’ve seen them numerous times. I haven’t seen them in a while. That’s the memory of this week I’ll take away.” Adams finished runner-up with a two-day total of even-par, 142 after a closing two-under, 69. Sophie Linder of Carthage also rebounded nicely on day two as she followed up an opening 76 with a 69 to finish alone in third at +3, 145. Coming in fourth was van der Biest (72-74146), followed by Claire Henson of Jackson (75-72-147). Rounding out the top ten were Kendall Maynard of Clarksville (76-77-153), Lily Bloodworth of Hendersonville (82-74156), Emily Wilson (77-79-156), Kyndall Shamblin of Cleveland (78-78-156) and Lexanne Halama of Knoxville (83-76-159). The finishing order of this year’s top three was exactly the same as it was in 2018 at the Golden Eagle Club in Cookeville. Lynn won the title that year by two strokes over Adams and three over Linder.
Superintendent of Sports/ Golf Clubhouse Operations
With the exception of Shelby, all Metro Parks golf courses are open for business. The courses opened May 26 with guidelines in place to ensure the safety of staff and golfers. Shelby remains closed indefinitely after suffering extensive damage from the March 3 tornado. There is no timetable for Shelby to reopen. Here are the protocols in place at Jim Fyke
Metro Parks courses: • The reopening of clubhouses ends the complimentary “walk on” status and initiates the regular fee-based golf. • All staff and customers must wear face coverings in clubhouses • An employee will be at the door to allow only one customer at a time in the clubhouse to pay/check-in • Cups will be upside down in the hole so that golfers won’t have to reach in to get retrieve their ball • Customers will be asked to not touch flagsticks • Hours of operations will be reduced to ensure enough staff to monitor and enforce the protocols to maintain a safe environment for
We Love Our Golfers!!!
Around Nashville Fairways
Metro Parks back open for business
2424 Old Hickory Blvd. • 615-862-8493
customers and employees • No riding carts, pull carts, or rental clubs will be rented • No rakes in bunkers, no water coolers or ball washers placed on course Single-rider carts were allowed starting June 1, and Metro Parks officials will continue to adjust operating procedures as we move through the phases in the mayor’s plan. The movement through these phases are data driven, not date driven, therefore we can’t project if and when we will move forward to others phases at this time. We are excited to be open again, and are hoping to get closer to normal as the season progresses. While we are still trying to determine the best way to navigate through this process, we hope to be able to put out more information regarding the James H. Fyke Municipal Amateur Championships and other events sometime in early June. We look forward to seeing everyone at our courses again. We hope to see you all soon! - Wayne
46th & Murphy Rd. • 615-862-8491
Forrest Park Dr. • 615-352-9958
20th & Fatherland • 615-862-8474
Two Rivers Parkway • 615-889-2675
1901 Ed Temple Blvd. • 615-862-8463
2009 Sevier Street • 615-880-1720
Avery’s ace highlights Henry Horton’s reopening with Paris Landing just a bit behind e reopened with a bit of a that date. bang at Henry Horton State Park golf course, as one of Montgomery Bell Lodge renovaour first customers, former tion is about a month away and PGA professional Tom Avery, made a Pickwick Landing renovation a hole in one. month after that, but the parks are open and rooms available minus a “He made the day extra special with few amenities at many of our parks. an ace on No. 16” said Neil Collins, PGA, and our head professional at Please go to the Tennessee State Henry Horton. “Congrats to Tom and Parks website for further informahope you make many more”. tion. With the recent tornados and the current pandemic affecting all It really was a great way to open the of our lives, we feel very fortunate Tom Every, (left) aced No. 16 with a 175-yard day as golfers around the state had Henry Horton Golf Courses first Corona that we have some of the opportu5-iron. Tom is congratulated by Course GM, PGA Neil an opportunity to get back out and Ace afternoon upon our reopening!! Collins, practicing social distancing of course. nities to get out and enjoy Mother play some golf. Things have changed Nature across Tennessee. somewhat, but the hope of getting share in the responsibility to keep the best putting surfaces in the state, and I out and playing has not changed with our each other safe as we get back to whatever hope all of you get to experience that very Please remember that all of our courses guests on the Tennessee Golf Trail. Thanks the new normal is going to be. are there for your enjoyment and all of soon. to all for keeping us busy and supporting our staff are ready, willing, and able to But we are open for business at all of our I am certainly prejudiced in my thinking help you with your needs when it comes the TGT and the game itself as we work golf courses. Please visit Tngolftrail.net for but when I see all of the notes and emails through some challenging times. more information as we transition back to we have received regarding the condition to group outings and events. A few of the As you come to visit us on the Trail, be our on-line tee times. If you have any prob- of some of our greens, it does tend to make rules are different at the moment, but our aware that we have a few guidelines and lems, please call the course you want to me a bit proud of our folks in the field and professionals are very good at what they do and will be glad to make every effort to they may not all be the same at different visit to book a tee time. of the hard work they do to make your ex- accommodate your wishes. courses. We hope to be fully open with For me, I think this will bring on a bit perience on the TGT a good one. some CDC requirements still in place by more travel over the near term but I do As always, we appreciate the support of We are making really good progress on the middle of June. love to see our courses as much as pos- the new Lodge at Fall Creek Falls, and it is each and every one of you as you visit our “Business unusual,” as a friend of mine sible, and right now to admire the greens scheduled to open mid-summer of 2021 Tennessee State Park golf courses. says, is the order of the day, and we can all complexes at our courses. We have some of - Mike
The Golf Course at Pickwick Landing State Park
The Golf Course at Warriors’ Path State Park
And Does Exactly As It Chooses. It Hooks And Slices, Dribbles And Dies, And Disappears Before My Eyes. Often It Will Have A Whim, To Hit A Tree Or Take A Swim.
Life slowly returning to normal at The Legacy Kevin Holler, general manager at The Legacy, is glad to see golf returning to a sense of normalcy. After all, it’s been awhile since anything in the golf business has seemed normal since early March when the coronavirus pandemic shut down virtually everything. Slowly, though, things are returning to business as usual. The Legacy isn’t there yet, but it’s getting there. And that’s good news for Holler, his staff and the club’s patrons. Holler hopes that July brings a return to the club’s Men’s Golf Association tournaments. The Robertson County Junior Golf Association clinics are back, with limited availability remaining for the third session scheduled for
June 15-17. The program is free and is an excellent introduction to the game for beginners and intermediate players. Each session is 90 minutes, with three sessions per day. Each session is restricted to eight players. Call the golf shop at 615384-4653 to register. Of course, after playing or participating in one of the junior sessions, golfers will need to fuel up, and they can do it at the Legacy’s Grill. The grill is now open at 50-percent capacity and is offering a full menu. Holler said everybody – staff, members, the associations and recreational golfers – are eager to return to their regular golf routine.
In My Hand I Hold A Ball, White And Dimpled, And Rather Small.. Oh, How Bland It Does Appear, This Harmless Looking Little Sphere. By Its Size I Could Not Guess The Awesome Strength It Does Possess. But Since I Fell Beneath Its Spell, I’ve Wandered Through The Fires Of Hell. My Life Has Not Been Quite The Same Since I Chose To Play This Stupid Game. It Rules My Mind For Hours On End; A Fortune It Has Made Me Spend. It Has Made Me Curse And Made Me Cry, And Hate Myself And Want To Die. It Promises Me A Thing Called Par, If I Hit It Straight And Far. To Master Such A Tiny Ball, Should Not Be Very Hard At All. But My Desires The Ball Refuses,
With Miles Of Grass On Which To Land, It Finds A Tiny Patch Of Sand. Then Has Me Offering Up My Soul, If Only It Would Find The Hole. It’s Made Me Whimper Like A Pup, And Swear That I Will Give It Up. And Take To Drink To Ease My Sorrow, But The Ball Knows .... I’ll Be Back Tomorrow. Stand proud you noble swingers of clubs And losers of GOLF balls! A recent study found that the average golfer walks about 900 miles a year. Another study found that golfers drink, on average, 22 gallons of alcohol a year. This means that, on average, golfers get about 41 miles to the gallon! Kind of makes you proud. Almost makes you feel like a hybrid..........
What’s my line?
For 2017 Tennessee Women’s Mid-Am champ Teleri Hughes, it’s golf fashion for women Tee Times report
ics line was released in November and features four different styles of skorts. Two things have been a constant in the “It’s really satisfying for me, to have loved life of former University of Tennessee golf- golf for so long, to be making something er Teleri Hughes – fashion and family. for golf,” said Hughes, who was a standout As early as seven years old, Hughes at Farragut High School before joining Tenwouldn’t leave the house if all of her acces- nessee. “It’s just kind of a full-circle mosories – golf glove, hat, socks, golf shoes – ment. didn’t match her outfit for the course that “It’s been really challenging – so many day. ups and downs, going from a student-athThat continued through college, where lete to working full time on this dream, but she went as far as bedazzling her Lady it has been so worth it. There is nothing Vols’ team golf bag. better than being able to stay in the golf And whether it’s her immediate relatives world. That’s what I always wanted to do, or her life-long best friends, Hughes will and combining my two loves of fashion be the first to tell you that she has been and golf, I couldn’t think of anything betblessed with a tight inner circle ter. I would love to do this for a long time.” It’s those two constants – fashion and Hughes is a 2017 UT graduate with a defamily – that are at the foundation of her gree in marketing, but she knew from an newest endeavor, Teleri Athletics, a cloth- early age that fashion was the career path ing line for women that was born from she wanted to follow. Hughes’ desire to see more functional For a school project in high school, she clothing for girls and women. turned in drawings of a skirt and told her The first collection from the Teleri Athlet- teacher that one day she was going to design her own line of golf clothes. University of Tennessee 2016Turns out, that skirt was the inspiration for one of 2017 Women’s Golf Team the pieces in her inaugural Teleri Athletics collection. About halfway through her college career, Hughes often found herself up late at night, sketching ideas and surfing the internet for how to start a clothing line. “As I got older, I had more and more trouble finding clothes that fit my personal(L-R) Blakesly Warren Brock, Allison Herring, Anna Newell, ity and also had everything Micheala Williams, Lucia Polo, Teleri Hughes, Hannah Pietila, that I needed in a skirt,” Emmie Pietila, Haley Wagner, and Shannon Brooks she said. “I was hearing the
Teleri Booth at Nashville Golf Show February 2019 same thing from my friends, too.” “I would see a skort and be like, ‘Okay, I like this, but where’s the pockets’? Or a skort would have pockets but I couldn’t fit my yardage book in it. Pockets, moisturewicking fabric, easy to wear … I want to modernize the basics and improve what is offered to girls and women in the sport.” After graduation, she immersed herself in the business aspects of it in her drive to create the perfect golf skort. She went to trade shows and met with textile mills and manufacturers. She enlisted the help of Knoxville-based technical designer Melissa Balmer, who took Hughes’ sketches and ideas and turned them into a working blue print for manufacturers. And that was only half the battle. Hughes estimates that after she had the designs
finished, she went back and forth with her manufacturers for a year and a half trying to get the samples to her liking. “They would send me back a complete skirt and I would see how I could golf in it. I let my friends try it on,” she recalled. “The sample process took me longer because I was so nitpicky and I wanted it to be perfect. I just wasn’t willing to accept anything but the best.” In the first collection from Teleri Athletics, three of the four skort designs have five pockets. The skorts weren’t just tested by Teleri’s friends – they were named after them. There is the Haley Skort, the Blakesly Skort, the Hanley Skort and the Anna Skort. “I wanted to name them after people who have had a huge impact on my life,” Hughes Continued on page 21
Equipment Corner Sun Mountain Motor Sports, Finn Cycle, out to change the game Sun Mountain Motor Sports launched the Finn Cycle, a two-wheel electric scooter that can go 36 holes on one charge, in July 2019.
“The number one reason golf isn’t growing is that people don’t have the 4-5 hours to play 18 holes. With Finn if you are first out, you can play 18 holes
Nashville National G.C. in Joelton has regulars
Continued from page 20
said. “I knew in college that I didn’t want to pursue a professional golf career, so this was my ‘Thank you’ to golf, because it’s done so much for me. I wanted to give back to the sport and to the people who have been with me the whole way.” Currently, the first collection from Teleri Athletics is only available for purchase on-
Teleri Athletics is the perfect brand for every female golfer because it is both stylish and functional. It’s rare to find a designer who truly understands what the female golfer needs in a skort. Teleri has competed at the highest levels in junior and collegiate golf, and she has become an expert on women’s golf clothing from personal experience as well as extensively talking to her teammates and playing competitors. The bright colors, flattering designs, and plethora of pockets are just a few of the things that make a Teleri Athletics skort unique. I can’t say enough great things about this brand, and I could not be more honored to have my name on a Teleri Athletics skort!
- Blakesly (Warren) Brock
Champions Run GC in Rockvale having fun
with a foursome in 2-2.5 hours because everyone goes to their own golf ball. “It’s also just a ton of fun” Paul Branlund, Eastern Sales Manager for Finn/Sun Mountain, said. “Our owner, Rick Reimers, has a knack for creating highly innovative products and this one we think is a game changer. The Finn Cycle has a lithium battery that will last 36 holes on a flat course and has a unique design where the golf bag rests under the seat and through the handle bars making the balance
line. Her strategy in 2020 is to increase brand awareness and get the word out. She already has the tech-pack completed for her second collection, which could go into production as early as this summer or early next year to coincide with the annual PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando. Hughes has ambitious long-term goals for her company. “I want to become a face for women and
girls in golf,” she said. “I want it to be the go-to skort in their wardrobe and for the Teleri Athletics brand to be synonymous with golf fashion.” Above all else, Teleri wants her brand to be representative of an effort to spread positivity and encouragement to fellow girls and women. Editor’s note: This story was originally published by the Tennessee Golf Associa-
Teleri Athletics is amazing for all women golfers because it was specifically designed with their needs in mind. Teleri is so good at what she does and always puts 110% of her effort into everything she does, including these skorts. Sometimes it is so difficult to find comfortable and functional golf clothes that are still stylish. I absolutely love my Teleri Athletics skort because it is all that and more. It’s a quality skort, with multiple pockets, and still very comfortable to play in. There’s not much more you can ask for!
Teleri Athletics makes you feel beautiful, athletic and powerful. Being confident in your own skin and in the clothes you wear is one of the many reasons Teleri’s skirts are my go-to out on the golf course! The Anna skort is fierce and comfy, the best of both worlds. I know I’m ready to slay the day when I have that skort on!
- Haley Wagner
- Anna Newell
and ease of ride one of the best features of the Finn. At 75 pounds, the Finn can also be transported to and from the course and drive right up to the green or tee box, making golf faster and more fun. Here are the facilities in Tennessee where you can ride a Finn: Champions Run, Nashville Golf and Athletic, Nashville National, Timber Truss. For more information, contact Paul Branlund at 615-545-3923.
tion. It has been edited for length and style purposes. For more info/to order: https://www. teleriathletics.com/pages/our-story
The skorts by Teleri Athletics are exactly what the women’s golf industry needed! It has always been a struggle to find skorts that are functional, fashionable, and sporty. Teleri has encompassed all of those things in her line! She has taken the basics of women’s golf attire and modernized them. Having a fashion line created by a women’s golfer for women’s golfers is the missing piece this industry needed. They give me the confidence and comfort to succeed on the golf course!
- Hanley Long
GOLFTEC opens new location in west Nashville The newest GOLFTEC facility is located at 6800 Charlotte Pike, Suite 104 in Nashville. The Nashville West location is offering a grand opening special of $75 for a 60-minute swing evaluation, $75 for a club fitting and up to 20-percent off lesson plans. The new Nashville West location has an unmatched Club Fitting experience. GOLFTEC’s unbiased golf club fitting system matches ideal clubs and shafts to your swing.
$75 Swing Evaluation
During this 60-minute golf lesson, you and your coach discuss where your game is now and where you’d like it to be. Your coach quantifies your golf swing with our Motion Measurement technology and video analysis to give you an in-depth view. And armed with this information, your coach recommends a customized lesson plan to reach your stated goals.
$75 Club Fitting GOLFTEC’s unbiased golf club fitting system matches ideal clubs and shafts to your swing During your 60-to-90minute fitting, your fitter combines golf equipment expertise with our guided TECFIT process to identify optimal club heads, golf shafts and adjustments for you. You get to test numerous club-and-shaft combinations to determine personal preferences, while your fitter analyzes launch monitor data and ultimately presents recommendations based on performance. These specials are valid only at the new Nashville West location and are available through June 30, 2020. They are not valid with any other offers, including holiday packages. They are valid on your first qualifying purchase only.
www.teetimespaper.com Paris Landing
We’re OPEN! We’re READY! We’d love to see you! Cumberland Mountain
Come enjoy some fresh air and exercise, and a GREAT game of golf, knowing that we’re following the guidelines of the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, and local public health authorities. Harrison Bay
Call for a tee time, or visit our website at tngolftrail.net At press time, our state is monitoring the COVID-19 situation and the importance of slowing its spread with efforts that may impact travel and gatherings. Please call before visiting any of the courses on the Tennessee Golf Trail, to ensure that the course of your choice is ready for your visit.
1 All courses are Audubon International Certified and are Audubon Cooperative Sanctuaries.
Annual passes available.
* Jack Nicklaus Signature Courses
The Bear Trace at Cumberland Mountain State Park 407 Wild Plum Lane Crossville, TN 38572 931-707-1640 The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay State Park 8919 Harrison Bay Road Harrison, TN 37341 423-326-0885 The Bear Trace at Tims Ford State Park 891 Wiseman Bend Rd Winchester, TN 37398 931-968-0995 Golf Getaway Package
The Golf Course at Fall Creek Falls State Park 626 Golf Course Road Spencer, TN 38585 423-881-5706
The Golf Course at Henry Horton State Park 4358 Nashville HWY Chapel Hill, TN 37034 931-364-2319 Stay and Play Packages
The Golf Course at Montgomery Bell State Park 800 Hotel Avenue Burns, TN 37029 615-797-2578 Play and Stay Packages
The Golf Course at Paris Landing State Park 285 Golf Course Lane Buchanan, TN 38222 731-641-4459 Stay and Play Packages
The Golf Course at Pickwick Landing State Park 60 Winfield Dunn Lane Pickwick Dam, TN 38365 731-689-3149
The Golf Course at Warriors’ Path State Park 1687 Fall Creek Road Kingsport, TN 37663 423-323-4990