Field Trip

by Laura Burkehart

 Dec 19, 2016 at 9:15 PM

McConnell Golf's tennis program brings all the clubs together

Each August since 2011 fans have gathered at Wake Forest University for the Winston-Salem Open. The last men’s tournament on the Emirates Airline US Open Series circuit before the US Open, this event draws top pros and a large, enthusiastic crowd.

For the past couple of years, McConnell Golf members have joined in the fun. “It’s a good event,” says Kyle Thortsen, McConnell Golf director of tennis. “We start out with a tailgate in the parking lot. We have a tent, and cornhole, and food, and everyone hangs out until the gates open.”

Member Jill Uttridge agrees. “I attended the WSO with my husband and sons, who are 13 and 9. While the boys enjoyed cornhole in the parking lot, we mixed with friends from our club, Wakefield Plantation, and met members from other McConnell clubs. It was fun to hang with the pros in a non-instructional capacity.” The highlights for the kids? “My 9-year-old loved watching the players practice a few feet away and getting autographs on his big tennis ball. We love the small tournaments because you can really get up close to the players.” Once inside, the group gathered at center court for a photo. “That was really cool,” smiles Thortsen. “Last year, we had 25 members, and this year we had 50. We hope it will continue to grow and grow.”

These excursions also involve entertainment and local college players coming out for some sets. An event at Old North State in New London, North Carolina happened in November, and it was anticipated from more than just a skill standpoint. Corbin says, “Our group was discussing what our outfits would be — and we asked our coach to have us McConnell-clinic-ready!”

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Fitting in Fitness

by Jessie Ammons

 Dec 18, 2016 at 9:19 PM

Resourceful planning has yielded impressive improvements at four McConnell Golf Clubs. Thanks to ingenious use of clubhouse spaces, the Country Club of Asheville and Holston Hills Country Club have brand-new fitness centers; and Old North State Club has significantly renovated its center with Providence Country Club soon to follow suit. Here’s a look at how it came together at Old North State Club on Badin Lake.

Sometimes small changes can make a big difference. As was the case at Old North State Club, where the fitness center received a relocation and renovation. “We had a fitness center, so this isn’t new,” club manager Frank O’Hara explains, “but it is new in the sense that it’s a new space.” The former fitness center had been near the pool, accessible but slightly disconnected from the hub of clubhouse activities. Now, it’s almost twice as large and in the clubhouse. “It’s more centralized and therefore offers itself to more of our membership,” O’Hara says. A new location has made existing equipment feel fresh, and a key-fob system allows members 24-hour access. “It’s been really well-received,” O’Hara says.

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Winning Big

by Jessie Ammons

 Jul 01, 2016 at 9:25 PM

The region’s top collegiate talent competed at McConnell Golf courses during two consecutive weeks this April for the Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s and Women’s Golf Championships. Virginia took home the women’s title at Sedgefield Country Club on April 17 and Clemson won the men’s championship on April 24 at Old North State Club.

The Virginia women held off Wake Forest in the final round to repeat as ACC Women’s Golf Champion. With three of its golfers finishing in the top five of the individual leaderboard, Virginia posted a team score of 855, 11 strokes better than the second-place Wake Forest.

Leading the Cavaliers was tournament medalist Lauren Coughlin, who finished with a 9-under 207. Walking to the 18th green tied with Wake Forest freshman Jennifer Kupcho for the individual lead, Coughlin birdied the final hole to become the second Cavalier to capture the ACC individual crown.

The Clemson men shot a 25-under 839 on the weekend to claim the ACC Men’s Golf Championship. The Tigers posted rounds of 273, 284, and 282 to win the 10th title in Clemson program history and first since 2004. The victory came one year after matching the best team score in the field before falling to Georgia Tech in two playoff holes.

Every Tiger posted at least one round below 70 on the weekend, a first for Clemson in ACC Championship history, and all five finished at par or better. Austin Langdale and Bryson Nimmer led the way, tying for fourth at 7-under 209.

Louisville’s Robin Sciot-Siegrist, who tied for individual medalist honors last year, posted a 10-under 206 to claim the title. The junior from Rueil-Malmaison, France, entered the final round tied for sixth at 3-under, four strokes behind the leader, but shot a 7-under 65 on Sunday. Sciot-Siegrist is the fourth in league history to win back-to-back individual titles.

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Badin Lake Bomber

by Shayla Martin

 Apr 01, 2016 at 9:26 PM

A World War II relic lies forever deep beneath the surface near Old North State Club.

From the islands of the South Pacific to the fields and beaches of Europe, you can find dozens of memorials commemorating the U.S. soldiers who fought and died in World War II. But a monument much less well-known honors two soldiers who perished tragically near the Old North State Club during the war.

Although the moments before the crash of the B-25 bomber plane into the dark waters of Badin Lake are shrouded in mystery, the story passed down through the years is one of a romantic gesture gone wrong. On June 8, 1944, two days after D-Day, 2nd Lieutenant Charles McDaniel and co-pilot John Withrow prepared to continue a delayed trip of the bomber to the marine base in Cherry Point, North Carolina when McDaniel decided to get creative with their departure. Before takeoff, he told his parents, in-laws, and new bride Elizabeth Hill that he would circle Palmer Mountain and fly past the house to signal goodbye. Unfortunately, that moment never arrived. As they waited in the front yard, they heard a loud explosion — the plane crashed into Badin Lake.

While Hill, devastated, ran back into the house, the families hurried to the lake only to find debris. Military naval divers conducted searches that located the plane but not the bodies of the pilots. A week after the crash, a report to the chief of naval operations stated that “it is quite evident the aircraft disintegrated on impact, and that the parts are well buried in the silt on the bottom of the reservoir ... No seats were recovered from the wreckage and it is possible that the bodies may still be strapped in the seats which, by their weight, would cause them to be buried in the mud on the bottom of the reservoir.”

The military never officially determined the cause of the crash, but has concluded that McDaniel was 15 miles away from his approved route when the crash occurred. The plane had no reported maintenance issues on the day of the crash; some historians theorize that the plane hit an air pocket, causing the wing tip to hit the water. The truth of what caused the crash may remain a mystery forever. Portions of the plane were recovered during the salvage operations and can be seen at the Badin Historic Museum, but no bodies were ever recovered.

In 1991, the Naval Historical Center conducted a further search that yielded only several small plane parts. Leftover funds from the effort were used to erect a memorial to the two pilots. It was dedicated on Veteran’s Day in 2001, a lasting reminder.



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