Mark Darnell has a permanent spot in the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame, but he has lost his title as head golf professional at West Lake Country Club.
The West Lake Board of Directors has dismissed Darnell, the only head pro the Columbia County private course has had since it opened in 1969.
News of Darnell's departure was circulated last week through an e-mail written by the board. No specific cause was given for letting him go, but the e-mail apparently indicated that Darnell and the Board of Directors had differing views on how West Lake's operation should proceed in the coming years.
West Lake general manager Ed Asbridge declined to discuss the situation, saying, "I'm not going to talk over the phone about personnel."
John Landrum, the president of the West Lake Board of Directors, said, "I can't talk about that. That's private club business."
When asked whether West Lake is currently searching for a new head golf professional, Landrum said, "My experience with newspapers has not been positive; I'm not going to comment on that."
Considering Darnell's lengthy tenure, which was marked by national awards and honors, the club's abrupt change of direction caught many West Lake members by surprise. Sources say that several long-time club members are unhappy with the move and will seek to oust the Board of Directors.
Whether the disgruntled members will attempt to have Darnell rehired is unclear. Darnell has an unlisted phone number and was not available for comment.
Darnell achieved elite Master Professional status in 1987, and is the only local resident to be inducted into the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame. After an All-American golf career at Purdue University, he turned professional and eventually joined West Lake as its first head pro.
On the eve of his Hall of Fame induction two years ago, Darnell was asked what his future held.
"I'm basically a workaholic," he said. "If I'm not doing PGA educational seminars and workshops across the country, then I'm here (at West Lake) seven days a week. My dad raised me that way; that was his work ethic. So I'll probably be here as long as they'll have me."
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