By Bill Hensley
Sept. 7, 2012. When golf course owners and managers need a highly qualified golf course superintendent, they usually head for the High Country to begin their search.
And they will find a bevy of agronomy talent in the mountains.
A random check of superintendents at the eleven High Country golf courses reveals that seven are locals, one is from another part of the mountains, two are from Eastern North Carolina, and one is an outsider but has lived in the WNC hills since 1992 and regards himself as a native son.
The homegrown talent is:
Hound Ears—Allen Storie of Cranberry; Linville—David Cooke of Linville; Elk River—Josh Smith of Banner Elk; Diamond Creek—Andy Yoder of Linville; Linville Ridge—Tommy Clark of Morganton; Boone—Tim Bryant of Blowing Rock; Sugar Mountain—Bill Daniels of Newland.
Others include Mountain Glen—Joel Whitley of Greenville, NC; Beech Mountain—Rory Ellington of Chapel Hill; Blowing Rock—Ben Barnes of Highlands, NC: and Grandfather—Pete Gerdon, the outsider who has lived in the area for twenty years.
One native son who did wander away is Brad Owen of Banner Elk who is the golf course superintendent at the famed Augusta National course, one of the nation’s most prestigious assignments.
Another impressive fact is that all of the courses rank highly in the statewide ratings issued by the North Carolina golf panel. Grandfather is the state’s second best course, Elk River is eighth and Linville is 12th.
“Don’t sell the country boys short,” offered Josh Smith of Elk River. “We’re pretty good at what we do.”
And so they are.