Blackthorn Club gives Davenport chance to come home

Joe Avento • Apr 9, 2017 at 4:33 PM

Golf has taken Mike Davenport away from his hometown for the better part of two decades, but he’s back and excited about his new job.

Davenport was recently hired as the head golf professional at Blackthorn Club and just finished his first week on the job.

“It’s great to be back,” said Davenport, who spent the last 16 years as a pro at Reynolds Plantation, an upscale club with six courses about 80 miles east of Atlanta. “It’s been a long time.”

Davenport grew up in Johnson City and played golf at Science Hill High School. He was the runner-up at the 1992 TSSAA state tournament, losing in a playoff to Josh Gregory of Memphis Christian Brothers.

Davenport’s golf exploits earned him a scholarship at Wofford College, where he was a teammate of PGA Tour player William McGirt, who contended in the Masters over the weekend.

After graduating from Wofford, Davenport spent some time as an assistant pro in Greensboro, North Carolina, before being hired at Reynolds Plantation. He was promoted to head pro at the development’s Oconee Course in 2007.

“It was great,” Davenport said. “You have six golf courses. We actually built the hotel in my second year there. You learn a lot as a golf professional there.”

Davenport wasn’t looking to leave Georgia, but when Graham Enloe, Blackthorn’s pro, left the golf business, he had a chance to come home.

“I was definitely happy where I was, but the ability to come back home and be close to mom and dad, it was a good opportunity for me,” he said.

The idea of working at Blackthorn Club was appealing to Davenport, he says, because it gives him a chance to “get back to what I got into the golf business for.”

“This is more of the roots of what a golf professional does,” he said. “Being able to teach and play a little golf with the members.

“I’m a people person. I enjoy not having a desk job. I enjoy being out and about, being visible, talking to the members and helping them enjoy the golfing experience.”

Davenport was drawn to the job, in part, by the course at Blackthorn. The challenging championship Arthur Hills-designed layout with smooth and fast greens has been the site of the Bank of Tennessee Intercollegiate at Blackthorn. Many college players who have competed here have gone on to win major championships as professionals. In addition, the course has been the site of many statewide events through the years.

“It’s a great golf course, first of all, a great facility,” Davenport said. “There’s good, solid membership. I’m going to enjoy interacting and bringing in some new ideas.”

Davenport and his wife, Elizabeth, have two sons, in second and fifth grades, so he’s interested in junior golf as well. That’s how he got his start in the sport that would become his life’s work, learning the game as a kid.

“It’s been something I’ve done since I was 8 years old,” he says. “Golf has always been a huge part of my life.”

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