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TITANS OF THE TGA

Fifty People Who Helped Shape The Tennessee Golf Association's First One Hundred Years

By Chris Dortch
Foreword by Tim Jackson


To commemorate the Tennessee Golf Association's centennial anniversary, the TGA commissioned Chris Dortch to write Titans of the TGA which profiles fifty people who, in their own way, made significant contributions to promote and advance amateur golf throughout the state.

These titans come from many backgrounds including players, administrators, golf professionals, course architects, benefactors and superintendents. Profiles will share how each titan became infatuated with the game and how they gave back to ensure the game is healthier for future generations.

Inside Titans of the TGA you will learn how the Tennessee Golf Association and Women's Tennessee Golf Association were founded, who took up the charge during the years to make sure the associations continued to prosper, what led to both associations merging in 2000, and who continues to lead the TGA into its second century.


“Thanks to the path Gene Pearce blazed so well with his book, The History of Tennessee Golf, I’ve been able to go on my own journey of exploration through the state’s rich golfing history. My focus has been on the TGA, in order to help golfers around the state celebrate the 100th anniversary of its creation. But most particularly, I have concentrated on the many people who helped create the TGA, keep it alive during some lean times, and help it grow into the juggernaut we know today! 

“The stories of these pioneers, caretakers and visionaries are diverse and compelling, and I’m proud to not only tell them in Titans of the TGA, but help preserve them for generations of Tennessee golfers to come.”  Chris Dortch,
Author
Titans of the TGA


Chris Dortch has done a masterful job profiling those included in this book.His diligent research has allowed him to share their stories along with how golf touched their lives and allowed them to make an impact on the game. -- Tim Jackson



Here are just a few things you will learn in Titans of the TGA...

  • Horace F. Smith, the man whose idea of conducting a statewide amateur golf tournament in Tennessee eventually led to the formation of the Tennessee Golf Association, was a drummer boy in the Civil War.

  • Tim Jackson was a star high school baseball player in Memphis and might never have played golf if one of his games hadn’t been rained out and he was talked into going to a driving range by some of his teammates. He got hooked on golf that day and now has a chance to win more TGA events than any player in history.

  • The very first gift awarded on behalf of junior golf by country music superstar Vince Gill’s tournament The Vinny was $5,000, given to the late Reid Harris so he could buy a mower to help restore Knoxville’s nine-hole Concord Park course to playability.

  • Before Dr. Cary Middlecoff of Memphis became a three-time major championship winner and dominated the PGA Tour, he was dominant in the Tennessee Amateur. He still holds the record for most consecutive championships won—from 1940-43.

  • Danny Green of Jackson, winner of numerous national amateur championships and one of the winningest players in Tennessee history, is the only player ever to advance to the championship match in the USGA’s major amateur events—the U.S. Amateur, the U.S. Mid-Amateur and the U.S. Public Links.

  • In 1989, Golf Digest chose Judy Eller Street as the greatest female golfer in Tennessee history, high praise considering she earned it on the strength of a single decade that included seven Women’s Tennessee Amateur championships—five in a row from 1956-60 and two more in 1962 and ’66—two U.S. Girls’ Junior titles (1957-58), two Southern Amateur championships (1959-60), the 1958 National Intercollegiate title and two selections to the United States Curtis Cup team (1960, 1962).

  • In 2000, Golf World magazine chose Clarksville’s Mason Rudolph the tenth best junior of the twentieth century, which placed him in the strongest of company—Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Bobby Jones and Phil Mickelson were also in the top ten.

  • Lou Graham of Nashville still has the book that started his golf career. It’s seventy-six years old, cracked and fading, but Graham will never part with it. Sam Snead’s Quick Way to Better Golf helped him become a U.S. Open champion.

  • The most decorated female golfer in Tennessee history may never have picked up a club if she hadn’t been so adventurous as a horseback rider. But after twelve-year-old Sarah LeBrun Ingram fell off her steed and broke her arm, her parents demanded she find a safer pursuit, and thus she was given a choice: Golf or tennis.

  • Lew Oehmig of Chattanooga won a record eight Tennessee Amateurs over a span of 37 years. He also won a record three U.S. Senior Amateurs (1972, 1976, 1985) and finished runner-up (1974, 1977, 1979) a record three times. Oehmig’s last victory may have been the most remarkable; at sixty-nine he was the oldest winner in the tournament’s history.

If you would like to purchase copies of Titans of the TGA: Fifty People Who Helped Shape The Tennessee Golf Association's First One Hundred Years, please contact Nathaniel Hantle at (615) 465-6304. 

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