Tony Dean played Three Oaks Golf Course on the final day it was open. Never mind the rampant weeds or the greens that had disappeared through the years. It was a routine Dean had kept since becoming a member in September 1997, two months before the course opened.
Three Oaks finally succumbed to dwindling membership and insufficient funds, closing down June 30.
"When the course opened up, the course was 100 percent Bermuda," Dean said. "When it closed up, it was almost 90 percent weeds."
The layout will probably best be known for an incident involving its original owner a year after the course opened.
On Nov. 5, 1998, David Jones was driving a tractor along the edge of a pond near the fifth hole when the bank gave way. The tractor pinned the man under water for what rescue officials later believed to be 4 minutes.
Eight men worked to move the tractor, but the tougher task was to free him from the pond's thick mud.
"He had turned blue," said Wayne Newman, who was playing that day with his brother, Curtis. "I thought he was dead, myself."
Dean, who had never met Jones before jumping in the water to help save him, also thought the man was dead.
Once the men got Jones to solid ground, Evans resident Art Rahn administered mouth-to-mouth, Dean said. Jones was taken to Medical College of Georgia Hospital and Clinics and eventually recovered.
He sold the course to Bill Waters in 2002, and Waters set out to revive it.
But Dean said the course's condition steadily worsened the last few years it was open.
"They didn't have the members to get the money," Dean said. "They had to take it out of their pocket. Membership kept going down and down and down."
But Dean and the group of Three Oaks regulars continued to show almost every single day, walking the course.
Dean has since joined Thomson Country Club and Gordon Lakes Golf Course. But he's holding out hope for a return to Three Oaks.
"It's a good little course," he said. "If someone would take it over, if they'd put some money into it, I'd go back in a minute."
TitleTown not far
The south Georgia city of Valdosta was named TitleTown USA by ESPN last week. The town beat out the likes of Boston, Green Bay, Wis., and Gainesville, Fla.
Nominations took place in the spring, and after the entrants had been pared to 20, fan voting from July 23-27 decided the winner.
Valdosta's rsum includes what's dubbed the nation's winningest high school football program, Valdosta High.
Rival Lowndes High School has won three class AAAAA football titles the past four seasons. And Valdosta State University, where former Greenbrier quarterback Nick Richards is headed, won Division II national football titles in 2004 and 2007.
ESPN converged on the town July 28. Fans packed Bazemore-Hyder Stadium.
When the moniker was bestowed, the town previously known as Winnersville went nuts.
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