By: Tony Edwards
Part Three: More Stories and Characters from the Past
Hi. It’s me, SGL, back again with more illuminating stories from my last 30 years.
In 1997, Ellsworth retired as our Head Professional. Jim Nodurft replaced him and took on the additional duties of General Manager for AP. He and “French Fry” (yup, that was Mike Horton’s nickname!) commit-ted to getting me back into tip-top shape, as I was looking a little tatty at that point. As a result of their work, I was given 4 ½ out of 5 stars by Golf Digest in 2001 as a top golf course to play in North Carolina. And Jim has a favorite story of his own from that time.
Jim Nodurft: A lady member of the club, Cam Rivard, asked me for golf lessons. We started the next day. She told me she didn’t have clubs, so I lent her a club out of the lost and found bin. After three lessons, she was struggling and not making the progress I had expected. But she came into the shop and purchased a bucket of balls and a glove. And I noticed she signed the charge ticket with her left hand. “Are you left-handed?” I asked, and she said “‘Yes”’ So, I asked why she was trying to play golf right-handed. “Because that’s how you’ve been teaching me” was her reply! I immediately swapped the loaner right-handed club I had given her for a left-handed one and went out with her to see her swing. Not surprisingly, it looked much better that way…Go figure!”
Jim says the lesson he learned that day has stuck with him, and he now always asks a new pupil which is their dominant hand. So even a golf pro can learn a lesson!
It was during Jim’s time in charge of golf that the numbers of golfers and residential neighborhoods began to grow rapidly. So, my friend Reg Criffield started a version of the Ryder Cup played between teams from the new AP neighborhoods. It was a lot of fun and a chance for some teams to wear team colors, as illustrated in the 1996 photo to the right. (NOTE: Can you name all the team members in the Forks of Cypress Team photo? If you can, click this link to submit the names to Soundings.) This annual event still continues, but the neighborhood teams have been co-mingled to form two teams representing Albemarle (blue) and Pasquotank (red) Boulevards.
Change is generally a good thing, right? Well, I think so. In 2007 Jim Nodurft left us, and his assistant, Craig Clarkson, took his place. He was a fine young man, but circumstances changed again, and Craig moved on. In 2011, AP recruited Kenny Saunders to be its head professional. Kenny and his wife Mil-lie were a breath of fresh air, and both brought good humor and fun to golf at SGL, and I loved it! Kenny came with a lot of pro golf experience from as far away as Vietnam and believed that golf should be a fun pastime. He in-troduced Pairs golf and a friendly competitive 9-hole league played in the evenings during the summer.
During Kenny’s tenure I witnessed a rare feat. Tony called it a double “barky,” quadruple “Macadamie.” Billy Rowell got to my 16th hole and managed to achieve a par having hit the left-side fairway trees twice and the cart path four times! Billy was not in the least bit phased by the laughs of incredulity from his playing partners. Strange things can happen on a golf course.
Now, I’m blessed by an abundance of animal and bird life around me. But the best “eagles” I have ever seen came from AP residents Dick Motter and Bill Wilcox. Dick’s was a remarkable double-eagle on September 12,1996, on the sharp dogleg 4th hole. He got down in two on this par 5! There is a commemorative stone at the base of the big tree on the dogleg adjacent to the cart path. Bill’s “eagle,” a hole-in-one on the Par-4 8th hole came in June 2008 in that year’s Member-Member competition. The picture captures Bill’s elation and his playing partners’ pleasure in witnessing such a rare feat.
These are just a few examples of the many wonderful happenings that I have had the privilege to share with those who have walked my fairways and putted my greens these past 30 years.
And there are more stories to come, so stay tuned!