“When you thought of Johnson City Country Club, you would catch yourself saying, ‘We’re going over to Mike’s to play,’ not Johnson City Country Club,” said Ken Crowder, head professional and general manager at the Golf Club of Bristol.”
Crowe retired in January after serving the Johnson City club as golf professional for 35 years. A dinner/roast in his honor is set for Saturday night in the club’s clubhouse.
“Mike will be missed in the Tri-Cities Chapter and Tennessee PGA and I hope he enjoys his retirement,” Crowder said.
Crowder, who spent most of his career at Lonesome Pine Country Club in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, has known Crowe for more than 30 years and recalls a few “misspent nights” in his dad’s place, appropriately known as the Crowe’s Nest. He marveled at Crowe’s golf game even when he spent most of his time in the pro shop instead of on the course.
“The one thing that will always define Mike is his innate ability to play good golf even when he had gone months without playing,” Crowder said. “He also used to hit a 1-iron like a laser bullet. Mike hit blade irons long after everyone had gone to cavity-back, game-improvement clubs.”
Bob Ward, head pro and general manager at Link Hills Country Club in Greeneville, recalls Crowe making the greatest par he’s ever seen. They were in the same group in the Tri-Cities PGA Chapter Championship some 35 years ago at Buffalo Valley Golf Course. On the par-3 second hole, Ward says Crowe shanked his tee shot dead right and deemed the ball to be lost.
The group was silent as Crowe reached into his bag and teed up another ball. He then proceeded to hole out his next shot for a 3.
“It still stands as the best par that I’ve ever witnessed to this day,” Ward said. “As we left the green, I believe I remember the first time I’ve heard the cliche ‘Nothing but numbers on the card. No room for descriptions.’ ”
Ward was an assistant under Steve Jones at Johnson City Country Club from 1979-82. Shortly after he went to Pine Oaks Golf Course, Crowe was hired at JCCC. They’ve been friends for 40 years.
“Mike Crowe is a great friend to all who have had the pleasure of meeting him,” Ward said. “JCCC has been the beneficiary of his service and love to the profession. Job well done.”
Crowe’s contemporaries, to a man, say he has been exactly what a golf professional should be.
“He epitomizes the words ‘golf pro,’ ” Crowder said.
“Mike’s just a great guy,” added Euggie Jones, head professional at Glenrochie Country Club in Abingdon, Virginia. “He’s just the ideal image of the PGA pro in my mind. He wore a lot of hats at Johnson City and he did a lot of great things. He was always available if you needed advice or someone to talk to. He’s just a good friend.
“To stay at the same club for that many years tells you how good a job he did and how much he was loved there.”
Crowe was just the third head pro JCCC has had in its illustrious history, joining Theo Webster and Jones. The fourth, his successor Jeremy Beachner, credits his mentor for preparing him to become a head professional.
“More than anything he just welcomed me with open arms,” Beachner said. “He let me do my own thing. When I was messing up he was there to catch me and show me the way.
“He allowed to me to grow, let me expand. It was a good opportunity to learn about my members and learn about myself.”