Sixteen journalists from fifteen states and Canada convened at Lexington Airport for a six day tour of Southeastern Kentucky . Golf courses such as, Paintsville Country Club in Paintsville, Stone Crest Golf Course in Prestonsburg, Wasioto Winds Golf Course in Pineville, Middlesboro Country Club in Middlesboro, Crooked Creek Golf Club in London, Eagles Nest in Somerset, Woodson Bend Resort and Golf Course in Bronston and General Burnside Island State Park in Burnside were on this whirlwind itinerary.
It all started in the rain. We arrived at Lexington Airport. The sky was beautiful on the ride up from Charlotte, but as soon as we landed we were greeted by a deluge, which continued throughout the day.
Our first stop, after a three hour drive was Jenny Wiley State Park. We were greeted by Park Manager, Mark McLemore. He and Jim Williams, Executive Director of Paintsville Tourism Commission, gave us an excellent dinner presentation of what the area had to offer. Camping Hiking Biking, boating and of course Golf were highlighted. There is also a Folk Festival held each summer that offers some of the best Country Music in Kentucky.
On to golf. We started the second day again in the rain. We moved on to the Paintsville Country Club and was greeted by Luther Conley, the clubs Head Professional.
This course proved to be a trip. At first It seemed to be a little Mickey Mouse, with one fairway serving Tee to Green on holes that ran up and down a mountain in both directions. It looked to be a little dangerous with golfers hitting at each other, but we were assured that there were very few incidents of players getting hit.
The back nine which was across the main road, was more conventional except you had to hit your tee shot across the Big Sandy River with a 180 yard carry. Hitting your shot over the river was one thing, getting to the other side was another
To get there you needed to negotiate a narrow suspension bridge with just room enough for one golf cart. We were told that we might experience a little swaying as we made the crossing. Boy were they right! It sure seemed pretty rickety as we swung back and forth, but we were assured that it was quite safe.
The rain continued and so did we. We were able to finish the round, but we got mighty wet. It was worth it though . When we returned one of the club members went back into his locker and especially brought some of the best Kentucky Bourbon I’ve ever tasted. If you’re ever in the Paintsville area you got to try this course. The people there are wonderful and you can be assured that you will have a remarkable experience.
Crossing the Big Sandy
We were scheduled to play the Jenny Wiley Golf Course that afternoon, but due to the continued rain it was under water.
After a true country breakfast at the Lodge which included sausage, eggs, and grits we headed off to Prestonsburg and to one of the most picturesque golf courses you can ever play – Stone Crest
The local county fathers had a dilemma – what to do with an abandon strip mine. As the old saying goes “when you got a lemon, make lemonade.” And that’s just what they did. They turned this tremendous eyesore into a championship golf course and appropriately named it StoneCrest.
The course is beautiful, well designed and takes advantage of the extreme elevation, with some of the greens below the tees as much as 200 feet. The clubhouse sits on top of the mountain and is surrounded by a porch that look out over the driving range and the surrounding area. They have an excellent dining facility – be sure to try their chicken salad sandwich. Its made from an old Kentucky recipe laced with grapes, pineapple and walnuts – fantastic.
The Par three 17th at StoneCrest
On to Pine Mountain State Resort Park where we were greeted by John Brock. Talk about enthusiasm, this guy was incredible. John is the Park Manager at Pine Mountain and also is responsible for setting up the First Tee Golf Program at the Wasioto Winds Golf Course that we were scheduled to play the next day.
Getting ready to hit at Wasioto
Bridge over troubled water
The course proved to be another beautiful track located in a valley as opposed to the top of a mountain. Even though there was flooding earlier in the week, they had cleaned up the debris and brought it back to being well playable. It was a bit soggy in places, but overall the course played very well.
Their new Clubhouse was about to open. Head Golf Professional Jerry Shoffner gave us a tour of the facility with particular emphasis of the First Tee Training Center. This center will be equipped with the latest golf training devices, four par three holes and a driving range for the exclusive use of the kids in the program. John Brock explained, that the program is designed to develop character, politeness, respect and a sense of fair play using the teaching of golf as a vehicle. Both John and Jerry’s enthusiasm was contagious.
Then on to Middlesboro Country Club professed to be the oldest golf course in the United States. The golf club was started in 1889 by an English company that operated the coal mines in the area. It was created as a fringe benefit for their management people. It is a nine hole course that reminded me of the old courses in New England, in fact whole area makes you think of Connecticut. The fairways wined among large oak and maple trees. With small elevated greens the course has a great deal of character. Head Professional Joe Stamper, was not there to greet us as he was playing in a state tournament in Lexington. We did enjoy the course.
From there it was on to The Avenue Cafe and Antiques, a unique combination of home cooked food and plethora of everything from antiques to as owner Judy Barton said; “just plain junk.” Kind of a yard sale where you can have lunch. The food was delicious. Everything cooked from scratch, Our gracious hostess/owner Judy and her husband proved to be excellent hosts. Judy also serves as Executive Director of the Bell County Tourism Commission. We returned to Pine Mountain that evening, exhausted after another full day of activities.
Getting ready for a great meal
The following morning after a really big country breakfast served at the Lodge’s dining room we were off to Crooked Creek Golf Club located in the town of London, KY.
We were greeted by Head Golf Professional Bill Moore, who bid us a warm welcome. We were also greeted by more rain, this time a thunder storm, but that didn’t stop us. As soon as the storm passed we were ready to slog it out. This course has a great layout as it winds through the gentle Kentucky hills. It is a fairly new development course studded with upscale homes located on spacious lots. Its design takes advantage of topography winding in, out and over the hilly terrain. The fairways and greens are kept in immaculate condition.
Then it was on to Eagles Nest and more hills. The elevation was not as great as Crooked Creek, but it had a lot more trees. Again rain threatened our play, but when the second storm passed we actually got to see the sun. Head Golf Professional Erich Moberly was there to greets and set us on our way. This was a terrific golf course.
The general consensus of our group rated this course number one. It had everything, elevated greens and tees narrow fairways sharp doglegs a definite must, to play. When we returned to the clubhouse Erich demonstrated their computerized golf swing analysis system.
After that we sat down to an dinner of epicurean proportions. Food and Beverage Director Gary Marinelli pulled all the stops. It was a wonderful finish to a great day. The members of this club are indeed fortunate to have a staff with this talent and dedication. Off we go again to Woodson Bend Resort and Golf Course. This time we arrived in the dark. With detailed instructions from the staff at the gate we were able to find our rooms.
When we awoke the next morning we found that our condo overlooked a beautiful lake. Our driver was at the door, the very first thing, ready to take us to the course, where we were greeted by Head Professional, Tim Dudley. This course wasn’t as long as some of the others, but again sharp doglegs and tiny green prevailed. Being from Florida most of the courses I play are relatively flat. Not so in Kentucky. Again this course proved to have more than its share of side hill lies. The course was well maintained as it wound in and out of the trees and condominiums and what do you know, it didn’t rain.
The next stop – A buffet lunch at the Lake View Restaurant which overlooked Lake Cumberland. Owner Charles Deaton was there to greet us offering all kinds southern style food. Then on to General Burnside State Park where we were greeted by Park Manager Libby Furlong. She went on to explain some of the features of the property. Of course camping, hiking and picnicking were a given, but they also have a golf course as well. Right in the park. Again it was a short course and again it was hilly. It was a fun course and would be relatively kind to beginners as well as tried and true golfers. It can sure test your iron play.
To cap this golfing the day we moved on to the Waterway Adventures Burnside Marina. where we were piped aboard a houseboat. Now this was a houseboat, like
I’ve never seen.
More like the Queen Mary. It was huge It even had a jacuzzi on the roof. There were a whole fleet of them, standing ready to go out on a lake that extends over 100 miles. You can rent one of these baby’s for a week or a weekend. General Manager, Glendal Bray told us that they have a training video tape that takes about a half hour to view, It givins you a complete orientation as to the operation of one of these giants. A trained pilot will take you from the dock to the middle of the lake, then your on your own. Not to worry though, a two radio is on board keeping you in contact with the Marina if you get into trouble. Bray told us that people from all over the country come to vacation here. One of their celebrity guest was Tommy Lee Jones. Jones lived aboard for three weeks during the shooting of the movie U.S. Marshals.
Dinner at Bastin’s Steakhouse in nearby Somerset was a real treat. Owner Mark Bastin and his staff were on deck to furnish delicious sizzling steaks or what ever we wanted from the menu.
Then back to the Marina to lay back, recap the week and sip some fine Kentucky bourbon. Even tried a little moonshine that mysteriously appeared in a Coke bottle.
We covered a lot ground and a lot of golf courses during this last six days. I was tired, so were the rest of us, but we all agreed that this in spite of the rain the trip was a wonderful experience.
All the people involved in putting this trip together are to be congratulated. Its not an easy task to organize co-ordinate, transport and put up with a group such as us.
My hat goes off to all of you.
Here are some of the people responsible for this trip. For more information about Southeastern Kentucky go to the Web Sites listed below, or better still give them a call. They will be happy to give you all the details necessary to have wonderful visit this beautiful area.
Sheila Kuczko, Executive Director
Vicki Kidd, Communications Director
Southern & Eastern Kentucky Tourism
Somerset, KY. 42501
Web site: www.tourseky.com
Jim Williams, Executive Director
Paintsville Tourism Commission
Tel 800-542-5790 Carmalee Cramer, Executive Director
Prestonsburg Tourism Commission
Web Site: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark Mclemore, Park Manager
Jenny Wiley Resort Park & Golf Course
Web site: www.kystateparks.com/
Judy Barton, Executive Director
Bell County Tourism Commission
Web site: http://web.archive.org/web/20071121030724/http://www.mountaingateway.com/
John Brock, Park Manager
Pine Mountain State Park Resort
Web site: http://web.archive.org/web/20071121030724/http://www.kystateparks.com/ Libby Furlong, Park Manager
General Burnside Isalnd State Park
Tel : 606-561-4223
Web site: http://web.archive.org/web/20071121030724/http://www.kystateparks.com/
Diane Holman, Executive Director
Somerset – Pulaski Convention & Visitors Bureau
Web site: http://web.archive.org/web/20071121030724/http://www.lakecumberlandtourism.com/ Ken Harvey, Executive Director
London – Laurel County Tourist
Web site: http://web.archive.org/web/20071121030724/http://www.laurelkytourism.com/
Paintsville Country Club
1107 Golf Course Road
Paintsville, KY 41240
Luther Conley, Head Professional
Tel. 606-789-4234 Stonecrest Golf Course
918-Club House Drive
Larry G. Ward, Head Professional
Prestonsburg KY 41653
Jenny Wiley State Resort Park
75 Theatre Court
Prestonsburg, KY 416653
Contact: Mark Mclemore, Park Manager
Web Site: www.kystateparks.com
Eagle’s Nest Country Club
Highway 39 North
Somerset, KY 42501
Erich Moberly, Head Professional
Gary Marinelle, Dir. of Food & Beverage
Pro Shop: 606 679-9825
Woodson Bend Resort Golf Course
14 Woodson Bend
Bronston, KY 42518
Tim Dudley, Head Professional
800-872-9825 – rental office
Crooked Creek Golf Club
781 Crooked Creek Drive
London KY, 40744
Bill Moore, Head Professional
Wasioto Winds Golf Course
1050 State Park Road
Pineville, KY 40977
Jerry Shoffner, Head Professional
Tel. 606 337-1066
Web site: http://web.archive.org/web/20071121030724/http://www.mountaingateway.com/
General Burnside Island State Park
P.O. Box 488
8801 South Highway 27
Burnside, KY 42519
Libby Furlong, Park Manager
Middlesboro Country Club
P.O. Box 2336
Middlesboro, KY 40965
Joe Stamper, Head Professional
Web site: www.middlesborocountry club.net
email: j email@example.com