Don’t let the snow on the greens and frigid temperatures fool you, the 2010 golf season is just around the corner.
The Upper East Tennessee Seniors Golf League recently announced its schedule for the upcoming season, and the boys are anxious to get to the first tee.
A major change for this season is the retirement of longtime Seniors Golf League president Ralph Hudson. Hudson, who took over administration of the league about 20 years ago, is stepping aside because of health reasons.
“Being a part of this organization has been a passion and joy for me,’’ Hudson said. “But I’ve had four operations in the past two years so I think it’s time to let someone else take the reins.’’
Hal McHorris will take over for Hudson, and he knows he has big golf shoes to fill.
“Ralph’s organizational skills were superb,’’ McHorris said. “He had a very clear understanding of how a tournament should be run and he ran it that way.’’
The Seniors League has come a long way under Hudson’s guidance.
“We started with about 75 players,’’ Hudson said. “It grew to as many as 275 but has now leveled out at a little over 200 golfers.’’
When Hudson first took over the league, he had to put a firm hand on the club, so to speak.
“I ruled like a benevolent dictator,’’ Hudson joked. “That was the only way things could work.’’
In the early days, he and his wife, Marion, spread all the weekly entries on their living room floor and sorted out the pairings. Each Friday, Ralph traveled to the course that would host the Monday event and set up the tee times.
It was certainly a labor of love.
“The greatest innovation for us was the fax machine,’’ Hudson said, laughing. “When the Internet came into play, things got so much easier.’’
Each week the tournaments had waiting lists, so Hudson expanded to two outings a week, Mondays and Thursdays.
“It was a great move for us,’’ he said. “That gave so many more guys a chance to play.’’
Hudson’s concept for the league was simple: sign up, show up and tee it up.
“The Senior League is an opportunity for retirees to meet new people, form friendships and play golf courses all over the area,’’ he added.
There are 23 courses included in this year’s rotation, including the reappearance of Graysburg Hills, Clear Creek and the Country Club of Bristol on the schedule.
While he’s stepping aside, Hudson, who has been given the designation of president emeritus, can look back with a great deal of pride.
“Over the years, all the committee members have done a super job,’’ he said. “This thing has grown beyond my wildest expectations.
“I’ll really miss being a part of the Senior League. Next to God and family, this has been a great thing for me. To see it grow has given me so much satisfaction.’’
The Seniors Golf League will hold its first tournament on Monday, March 22 at Cattails at MeadowView in Kingsport. The league is open to men ages 55 and older by the date of the first event.
Interested male golfers should check the league’s Web site, www.seniorsgolfleague.com, or they may contact McHorris by calling (423)245-9833 or by e-mailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.