“I like it a lot here,” Bentley said. “Everybody’s been extremely welcoming. Everybody’s been good to me.”
Bentley started at Johnson City’s only municipal course on June 10 after coming over from the Golf Club of Bristol. The 33-year-old former golfer at Virginia-Wise was a teacher in Norton before changing career paths and becoming a PGA pro.
“It’s just something I always wanted to do growing up playing and working at Lonesome Pine under Ken Crowder,” Bentley said. “I wanted to get into the golf business before I got into teaching.”
Four years later, the lure became too strong to resist.
“I ended up going in to talk to him (Crowder) and couldn’t get the itch out of me,” Bentley said. “I was at an age where I could do it. I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy road getting into it, especially as an assistant. We had to make some sacrifices moving around.”
Bentley has lived in Nashville and Aiken, South Carolina, in addition to working at two clubs in Bristol, the Golf Club of Bristol and the Olde Farm.
“I really like the mood and the vision Johnson City has given about wanting to put a new energy into golf and the Parks and Rec part of the city,” he said. “I’m just really excited about their vision and the future.”
As Bentley spoke, golfers were playing the course. He looked out and smiled.
“It’s in really good shape,” he said. “Obviously all the rain we’ve had has helped.
“We have rye fairways and they’re popping right now.”
The course has a new greens roller this year and Bentley said from what he has heard it’s been a hit.
“Talking to some people, that seemed to be the biggest complaint we had here last year, the greens were too slow. He rolls the greens two or three times a week,” Bentley said.
“We’ve had a bunch of people compliment us on the greens.”
As Bentley began to get settled in, he realized one thing. Pine Oaks gets a lot of play. It had more than 22,000 rounds last year.
“I’ve been really pleasantly surprised with the amount of rounds we’ve been doing since I’ve been here,” he said. “I don’t think I have to get too ambitious in figuring out ways to try to get people out here. Just continue to give them reasons to come out.
“Just provide them with a smooth operation and let them enjoy this golf course.”