[mks_dropcap style=”circle” size=”45″ bg_color=”#000000″ txt_color=”#ffffff”]T[/mks_dropcap]he Jackson County Golf Club started in 1985, and while the membership has grown from the original eight, the goals of providing fellowship and an opportunity to enjoy golf with others have remained the same.
“Open to all who enjoy the game of golf and the fellowship and camaraderie that this develops,” JCGC Vice President Tom Tabor said. “We are members of the Carolina Golf Association which maintains our handicaps, and this is accepted by the USGA [United States Golf Association].
“Most of us are retired, but we have a diversified contingency of players made up of accountants, business men and women, electricians, engineers, ministers, principals, physicians, school teachers, truck drivers and university professors to name only a few. We are not necessarily the best golfers in the area, but we do have some that would fall into that category. The majority of our players carry a handicap in the 20-25 range, but we do have some in the single digits.”
Join the Club
For more info on the JCGC:
The club could use any unwanted golf clubs or bags for members.
Contact any of the members, whose information is listed under club members on the website, or drop off the equipment at Livingston’s Photo in Sylva.
Club founder Jim Searcy said the group began as a way for area golfers who were not part of a brick-and-mortar golf club to have a golf handicap. The handicap is a measure of golfer’s potential ability compared to an expert amateur’s ability.
The Handicap Index helps create a fair match but makes allowances for each player’s ability, according to the USGA. What started to help ensure Jackson County golfers could have a handicap kept growing to around 45 members from Jackson and the surrounding counties and one international player.
“It has been a good thing and helps a lot of people get into and stay in golf,” Searcy said.
One of those people is still Searcy. He will turn 78 in October and has recovered from a stroke while playing golf three times a week. Tabor said Searcy can still beat more than half the members. Searcy said he shot an 85 recently.
“If it weren’t for golf I would have been dead or near dead,” said Searcy, who was a seven handicap at one time. “It is a game I still love so much. It keeps you going.”
The club also can be an excellent way to break into golf, as president Tony Stiers found out.
“I was introduced to the club through a friend and his father about 10 years ago,” Stiers said. “As someone new to golf, at the time, I found the members welcoming and friendly. Playing with any of the members and being a part of this club has been a means of meeting fellow golfers and making new friends. I and most members, I think, have rarely sensed anxiety because of perceived or real playing abilities.
“While there is competition between members, it is not an overly competitive club. The club tends to be more of a social gathering for fun and relaxation while playing a game that we all enjoy. We enjoy the game equally by glorying over great shots as well as lamenting the plain awful shots. No one in the club is immune from either.”
Tabor said members range in age from high school to seniors with the oldest member being 88 and playing every week.
“Some of our members recently helped with the Jackson County Special Olympics and one of our members is the golf coach for five special Olympians, which is allowed to use Bear Lake Preserve as their home course,” Tabor said. “One of our members is the high school golf coach for Smoky Mountain High School, David Claxton, and another member, Jerry Rodinsky, coaches the Jackson County Special Olympics Golf Team.”
The club is constantly looking for ways to promote golf and serve the community. They’ve allowed the Smoky Mountain High School golf team to be Junior Club Members without a membership fee. One of the benefits is they are members of the Carolinas Golf Association, which is the umbrella organization of clubs in the Carolinas that along with the USGA provides handicap calculations.
And members play every Monday throughout the year at local courses including Lake Junaluska Golf Course, Maggie Valley Country Club, Mill Creek Country Club, Sequoyah National Golf Club, Smoky Mountain Country Club, and Waynesville Country Club on a rotating basis.
“These courses give us a discount when we play as a club,” Tabor said.
Anyone interested in joining, could go to the Jackson County Golf Club website and print the application or go to Livingston’s Photo in Sylva and pick up a copy, Tabor said.
“We welcome anyone that enjoys the game of golf and would like to dedicate a day meeting new friends and getting some exercise while enjoying a laugh and giving thanks for our breathtaking mountain scenery,” Tabor said. “Come and join us any Monday as our guest and then you can decide later if you want to join the club. Membership is open all year. We have a monthly meeting every fourth Thursday at the Sylva Presbyterian Church during most of the season.”
Golf can become a lifetime sport as the club founder Searcy discovered. He offers some advice to those beginning to play the game.
“Don’t get into golf unless you want something to occupy your time,” Searcy said with a laugh. “And if it is going to occupy your time, you might as well do it with folks you enjoy being around — like the Jackson County Golf Club.”