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Jennings vows to play some golf now that he’s out of the business

Joe Avento • Mar 13, 2019 at 2:26 PM

Mike Jennings, longtime pro at Pine Oaks Golf Course in Johnson City, has retired from the golf business.

After spending 32 years at Pine Oaks, Jennings said it was just time to do something else. He is now the operations manager for the local chapters of the Carefree Boat Club, which operates on South Holston, Watauga and Boone lakes. He’s also in the real estate business, working for Century 21.

“It was just time for a change and I had these unique opportunities,” said Jennings, whose last day was March 1. “The timing was right.

“Everything was fine at the course. I had no issues with the city. They wanted me to stay. It was just a unique time and opportunity. It was time for a change for me.”

Jennings, like most people in the golf business, realized when you’re working at golf, it’s not all fun and games. When the golfers are playing, the pros and assistants are working.

Golf is no longer his business, but he’s hoping it remains his passion — if he ever starts playing again. Back issues and time commitments from the job have kept him off the course in recent years.

“I think I’m going to get back to playing again,” said Jennings, a lifetime member of thee PGA of America. “Being in the business, you just get farther from the fun parts of golf. It gets to the point where you’re doing more of the un-fun things and less of the fun things. Now I think I can have some fun playing golf. I’m actually excited about golf right now.”

The 52-year-old Jennings has been vowing to get back on the course for several years, and now that he has no excuse, he realizes he’d better put up or shut up.

“I’ve told so many people that I want to start playing that I have a feeling that if I don’t start actually playing this year, nobody’s ever going to believe me again.”

FOSTER PROMOTED

Todd Foster is settling into his new job as head golf professional at Warriors’ Path Golf Course.

It was a natural move having Foster take over when longtime pro Mark Houser retired late last year after 44 years at the course. Foster had put in his time as Houser’s assistant, so it probably wasn’t a tough decision for the state to make.

This spring will be Foster’s first as the top man at the public course that is part of the Tennessee Golf Trail run by the State Parks Department.

“It feels great,” Foster said. “There’s a lot more responsibilities. I had a lot of experience with Mark. I was with him for almost 18 years. I learned a lot under him. Hopefully I’ll continue forward and continue what he had going on here.”

Foster said, first and foremost, the condition of the golf course is the the main concern. With superintendent David Cloud and assistant Billy Murphy, the course has been in good hands.

“They’re both really good,” Foster said. “They’ve really had this place in great shape the past several years. We’re just trying to keep going what’s been going.”

CLIFF ON TOUR

Cliff Kresge has played four events on the PGA Tour Champions. He earned a spot on the 50-and-over circuit by finishing tied for second in the final stage of the qualifying tournament and had his best finish of the year last, a tie for 47th at the tour’s stop in Newport Beach, California.

That pushed his season earnings to $12,545, ranking 73rd on the Charles Schwab Cup money list.

Kresge played with Mark O’Meara in the second round last weekend and closed by playing with Kenny Perry and Mark Calcavecchia. Perry shot 68, while Kresge shot 70 and Calcavecchia 75.

Kresge has a stroke average of 72.75 and ranks 20th on tour in average driving distance at a little over 280 yards.

Kresge’s wife Judy is a Kingsport native and he serves as pro emeritus at the Club at Ridgefields.

The next event on the tour starts March 29 in Biloxi, Mississippi.

CROWDER BACK

A familiar face to local golfers, Ken Crowder, is back in the area. The longtime pro at Lonesome Pine Country Club in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, is now the pro and general manager at the newly named Golf Club of Bristol, formerly the Country Club of Bristol.

The Bristol club is being run by KOVA Golf Management of Florida and has reverted to being private after a few years of allowing public play.

ADDIE WINS

Addie Baggarly of Jonesborough picked up her first collegiate win playing for the Florida Gators.

Baggarly, who played on the Science Hill and Tennessee High teams while in high school, finished tied for first at the Sugar Bowl Intercollegiate with Houston’s Leonie Harm at English Turn Golf and Country Club in New Orleans. They were the only two players to match par.

Baggarly, a sophomore, most recently finished second at Florida’s own tournament. She was on the Southeastern Conference’s all-freshman team last year and is third on the team in stroke average this year.

Baggarly’s father Mark, also played at Florida.

FREE MEMBERSHIP

Travis Nicolette as the big winner in a recent contest at Elizabethton Golf Course. Nicolette’s name was drawn to win a free membership for the coming year.

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