These Chairs Rock On The Tees At Settindown Creek
By David Shefter, USGA
Roswell, Ga. – Courtney Young, the director of agronomy at Ansley Golf Club’s Settindown Creek Course, changed his college major at the University of Tennessee from architecture to agronomy because he fell in love with working at a local club in Vienna, Va., during the summer months.
But the 44-year-old never lost his touch for design. While agronomy has been Young’s blueprint for a successful career, using his creative touch has helped him create one of the staples of the Settindown Creek Course during special events.
You may have noticed this week at the 2005 U.S. Women’s Amateur – either on The Golf Channel’s television coverage or in person as a spectator – that the course has some unusual tee markers. Brought out for only important competitions or special occasions, the club replaces its normal markers for miniature rocking chairs. The wooden icons are built by Young in his basement of his Roswell home during what he calls “rainy days.”
“I usually build six or eight at a time,” said Young, who came to Settindown Creek eight months before the Bob Cupp-designed course officially opened in 1988. “It takes me a better part of a day. I kind of assembly-line it. I cut out different features and over time where I have had trouble with the assemblage, I have bought tools. It’s been fun to go to Home Depot and buy tools. I’ve got an air nailer now and a scroll saw; all kinds of things to make them easier [to build].”
The rocking chair is actually the club’s logo, but it didn’t begin that way. Around 1989 or ’90 club members had tired of the original logo and people were tossing around several ideas for a new one. The favorite idea was the rocking chair. Bobby Gaston, the green chairman at that time, was out shopping with his wife for Christmas ornaments for a big holiday party that the couple puts on and they came across a miniature rocking chair.
Gaston came up with the idea of using the tiny chairs as tee markers. And Young decided to create them for the club.
“I’m not much into shopping at doll shops, so that’s where it was easier for me to replicate than to buy them,” said Young. “These things are more love than craftsmanship. It’s more like your first-graders’ art project. Everybody just oohs and aahs.”
They have been definitely a topic of conversation during the championship. Young has heard comments from members of the USGA Women’s Committee, from out-of-towners watching the championship and others who have told him he should market the chairs. But Young would rather just keep them part of the club lore instead of making it a commercial venture.
And since only one person makes them, Young has a hard enough time maintaining the required 36 to use for competitions. Sometimes weather destroys them or a player might take out his frustration on a chair after a poor shot, although that has not been the case this week. Nevertheless, the chairs maintain a unique spot in the club hierarchy.
“It’s nice to say we are playing from the chairs,” said Young. “Everybody [at the club] knows what that means. That means it’s special. It usually means the greens are about 12 or 13 [feet on the Stimpmeter] and we’ve got something special going on.”
The chairs come out about a half-dozen times a year, usually for the club championship and member-guest events. They’ll be used when the course hosts U.S. Open sectional qualifying, which it has on seven previous occasions or for the NCAA East Regional, which was held here in 2002. The club also hosted the 1995 and ’96 Nike Tour Championships, which were won by Georgia residents Allen Doyle (1995) and Stewart Cink (1996). Doyle, who just captured the 2005 U.S. Senior Open with a final-round 63 at NCR Country Club, actually got a couple of chairs from Young as a memento.
So far Young has not received any requests from any Women’s Amateur contestants, but he said he’d honor a request from the champion.
“The [Robert] Cox Trophy is a pretty special deal,” said Young of the hardware that goes to the champion. “But I’d be happy to make one for the champion.”
David Shefter is a USGA staff writer. E-mail him with questions or comments at email@example.com.
U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship
TICKETS – Admission and parking for all seven days of the championship are free of charge.
WHO CAN PLAY? – The U.S. Women’s Amateur is open to female amateurs who have USGA Handicap Indexes not exceeding 5.4. Entries closed June 15.
DEFENDING CHAMPION – Jane Park, 18, or Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., will defend the title she won in 2004.
THE FIELD – The 2005 field will include seven Georgia players. They are Laura Coble of Augusta, Jackie Beers of Bonaire, Alina Lee of Evans, Kyu Ri Ban of Duluth, Dori Carter of Valdosta, Diana Ramage of Fayetteville and Margaret Shirley of Roswell.
TELEVISION COVERAGE – Match-play rounds will be telecast on The Golf Channel Aug. 3-7 from 4-6 p.m., EDT.
OTHER PROMINENT PAST CHAMPIONS – Patty Berg, 1938; Betty Jameson, 1939, 1940; Babe Didrickson Zaharias, 1946; Louise Suggs, 1947; Beth Daniel, 1975, 1977; Juli Simpson (Inkster), 1980, 1981, 1982; Pat Hurst, 1990; Kelli Kuehne, 1995, 1996; Grace Park, 1998; Dorothy Delasin, 1999.
CHAMPIONSHIP COURSE CONDITIONS – The following mowing heights will be used for the championship: fairways 1/2"; tees 7/16"; collars 1/4". Putting greens will be prepared so that they are firm and fast; to measure approximately 11 feet on the USGA Stimpmeter. Intermediate rough: 1", width approximately 72" along fairways, width approximately 30" wide around putting greens. Primary rough: 2 1/4".
FUTURE WOMEN’S AMATEUR CHAMPIONSHIP SITES – The 2006 U. S. Women’s Amateur will be conducted at Pumpkin Ridge G.C., North Plains, Ore., Aug. 7 – 13.
MEDIA CONTACT – The Media Center for the U.S. Women’s Amateur will be located in the main clubhouse at Ansley Golf Club. Rhonda Glenn and Beth Murrison will be the USGA staff members on site. The Media Center phone numbers are (678)639-7488 and (678)639-7494.