EGC firmly anchored as community asset

By Wes Holtsclaw
STAR STAFF
wholtsclaw@starhq.com

   Fresh off its premier event, the Elizabethton Golf Course is certainly going strong in the eyes of the community and its members.
   From July 4th through the 6th, the course held the East Tennessee Amateur, an event the course builds its year around, and features between 115-120 golfers.
   "I think for the course, we try to peak our towards the event," said Course Pro and Manager Steve Howard. "The course is in its best shape in the last four years and we're impressed with a strong invitational field."
   "The tournament is ran well and people come and appreciate what we do," he said.
   The tournament featured real time scoring on the course's website.
   The course will feature other events, including the Three Person Select Shot Tournament on Sept. 13-14, and the Club Championship on Aug. 2-3.
   Today, the Greater Kingsport Amateur will host a team event, one that Elizabethton has swept at its course in previous years. The Vince Gill statewide junior golf program sponsors a tournament at the course on July 17.
   "The Vince Gill tournament is sponsored by the state after he raised money to start it," said Howard. "There will be several golfers in the area and some from the Knoxville area who will come up here to earn the points they need."
   The course itself hasn't undergone many changes.
   "Basically, we haven't done anything new, except for the condition of the course," Howard said. "Last summer, it was tough with the heat early, so we're focusing on conditioning before the tournaments."
   The course's income has remained the same over the past year, despite a dropped number of members.
   "We've stayed fairly consistent," said Howard. "Our number of members is slightly down due to a dues increase, but our income is about the same. The economy has something to do with that, and it hurts us a little bit."
   However, the course has lived up to its billing as the best golf value in Upper East Tennessee.
   The course sponsors $20 golf on Mondays, including 18 holes and a cart. On Tuesdays, Seniors 55 or older and ladies can play a full round for $18.
   After 2 p.m. on weekends and holidays, you can play 9 or 18 holes for $22 with a cart.
   "We started the special on Monday's three years ago because it was our slowest day, and now we're getting around 150 golfers a day," Howard said. "That's a pretty good number and Tuesdays are like that. On Sunday afternoons, we fare pretty well from the time church lets out until 5 p.m."
   The course is owned by the city, which appoints three members to the course's board with the Parks and Recreation director. The board elects from the course's membership for its own governing body, which handles most of its business.
   "It's a great situation," Howard said. "The city supports us and we're hoping they can help us with the funding of some of our capital projects."
   The course was completely renovated in 1993, and of the 20-plus public golf courses in the area, it is the premier course. An estimated 35,000 rounds are played annually.
   For more information on the Elizabethton Golf Course and its events, visit its website at: http://www.elizabethtongolf.com