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Golf notes: JCCC course has withstood test of time

September 19th, 2013 8:27 pm by Joe Avento

Johnson City Country Club begins its second century today.
The club celebrated its 100th anniversary on Thursday, and part of the long list of festivities was the filling of a time capsule. It included items from the club as well as letters from current members written to their children and grandchildren. It will be buried on the grounds and is scheduled to be opened in 25 years.
The club, which opened on Sept. 19, 1913, has been celebrating its history for the last eight years with the Tillinghast Invitational tournament, which is growing in stature each year.
While board members were researching the club’s history in preparation for a yearlong celebration, it was discovered that A.W. Tillinghast did, indeed, design the entire course. For some time, it was thought that that famed architect, whose other work included Bethpage Black and Baltusrol, did only nine holes at JCCC.
Along the way to the ripe old age of 100, the club’s history included some exciting moments -- brushes with greatness -- on  the golf course.
Arnold Palmer made his seventh hole-in-one at the course with local pro Lee Campbell as a caddy.  He aced the second hole in 1965. The King also played an exhibition here with Doug Sanders.
Babe Zaharias, perhaps the greatest female athlete of all time -- she won 41 LPGA events, three U.S. Women’s Opens and two Olympic gold medals in track -- played the course in 1948.
Maybe even more impressive is the fact that Duke Ellington and Glenn Miller entertained during dances at the club.
Mike Crowe, JCCC’s head professional, has been at the club for 29 years and has seen minimal changes to the course.
“Since I’ve been here, the trees have gotten a lot bigger, the fairways have narrowed and we rebuilt the greens back in 1986,” Crowe said. “Essentially, everything else is still the same.  Over time, it’s really held up well.”
The course is short by modern standards, but that hasn’t stopped it from being a true test. The layout doesn’t routinely surrender low scores in the Tillinghast Invitational.
“This place puts a premium on tee shots and approach shots as well,” Crowe said. “Once you get to the greens, putting is a different adventure. Over the period of time, I think it’s held up well. People enjoy playing it as much now as they did back then.”
The club is continuing the celebration through the weekend with a luau and a ball.
The one thing that should be remembered during all the celebrating: the traditional, shot-maker’s course remains an absolute pleasure to play in any century.
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What a way to begin a career.
Johnson City’s Rachel Ingram recently took over as head coach at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala. Her team won its first tournament, capturing the Fedex Memphis Intercollegiate.
“What a wonderful way to start my new career at Samford,” Ingram said. “To walk into a program with such love for each other and the game of golf has been such a blessing to me.”
Ingram, a University High graduate who played collegiately at Ole Miss, had served as an assistant coach to Stefanie Shelton at East Tennessee State for two years.
The Samford women weren’t done after their first tournament. They finished second in their next event, the Great Smokies Intercollegiate at Waynesville, N.C. The team shot a first round of 281, seven under par, breaking the tournament record and marking the lowest score ever posted by the Samford team.
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Mike Freels of Chuckey captured the Tennessee State Senior Amateur at Hillwood Country Club in Nashville.
The tournament was shortened to 36 holes because of weather, and Freels posted two rounds of 71 to win by one stroke over Doug Harris.
Freels, a retired Air Force officer, birdied four of his last seven holes to seal the deal.
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Peter Malnati earned his PGA Tour card for next season by finishing 18th on the Web.com Tour’s regular-season money list. He became the first golfer who played in the East Tennessee Amateur at Elizabethton Golf Course to go on to the big tour.
Malnati, a Dandridge native who played for Missouri, qualified for the PGA Tour in style. He won the News-Sentinel Open in Knoxville, basically his hometown tournament, by making birdies on five of his final seven holes.
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Here’s your chance to get an up-close and personal look at some of the legends of the LPGA Tour. The Handa Cup will be played Oct. 12-13 at Hermitage Golf Course in Nashville, and the event is looking for volunteers.
The tournament is a Ryder Cup-style event for the LPGA Legends Tour.
And legends they are. The United States team is captained by JoAnne Carner and includes Nancy Lopez, Pat Bradley, Patty Sheehan and Beth Daniel.
The World team includes Jan Stephenson, Laura Davies and  Liselotte Neuman.
For volunteer information, visit www.legendstourtn.com.
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Cliff Kresge traveled to Scotland in an attempt to earn his way onto the European Tour. He came up one shot short of advancing to the second stage of qualifying.
Kresge, who has played on the PGA and Web.com tours, has hosted a pro-am tournament for four years in Kingsport to raise awareness and money to fight autism. He closed his qualifying attempt with a 73 at the Roxburghe Golf Course in Kelso, Scotland.

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