Wilson takes over Saddle Creek

Friday, February 26, 2016
The Saddle Creek Golf Course staff from left is, Ryan Whittle (Head of Range Personnel), Sandy Sanders (Head of Waitress Staff/Event Planner), Richard Ryba (Assistant PGA Pro/Tournament Coordinator), Danny Arsenault (Head Chef/Food & Beverage Manager), Greg Wilson (General Manager/PGA Pro) and Susie Wilson (Accounting /Bookkeeping). Not pictured: Will McCullough (Golf Course Superintendent). Photo by Anthony S. Puca

PGA Professional Greg Wilson and his wife Susie left their course (Cedar Creek Golf Course) to son Adam and grandchildren in Ottumwa, Iowa for a new challenge and it is a big one, leasing Saddle Creek Golf Club and reopening the course that has been closed for several months.

"My son (Ben) came down here to become a music producer in Nashville and we came down to visit him eight years ago, loved the climate and the people were awesome, just friendly people," Wilson said. "I don't like the Iowa winters, so I told my wife, if we ever get a chance to find a facility in Tennessee, we've got to get out of here."

Ben Wilson is married to country, R&B, pop and soul singer Kassie Wilson and they reside in Nashville, performing quite regularly downtown and performing at gigs and fairs, etc., all over the United States.

In 2014, the Wilsons entered the Texaco Country Showdown and made it to the National Finals where they were one of five finalists out of a total of 20,000 entrants.

Searching the area

During the last six years, Greg Wilson looked at Blackberry Ridge Golf Course in Shelbyville and Highland Rim in Joelton, but neither worked out to his expectations.

"I love a challenge and to take something marginal, not the facility, but the way it was run and watch it grow like you raise a child," Wilson said. "I see us by far being the best conditioned golf course in this area and we want to remain a friendly facility with lots of activities for our members and junior golfers."

Saddle Creek has been managed by six different groups, including owner Eddie Roberts since opening in 1995, but Wilson wants to bring stability to the course as he explained to his current members and other prospective members Wednesday night that he is in for the long haul.

"I didn't know that people felt so bad about that (stability) until I got here," Wilson said. "I want this to be a fun place to be, not a stressful place to be because of its past, I want to get rid of that past."

Future owner?

Wilson signed a three-year lease with an option to buy from Roberts and he intends to attempt the latter.

"To me it's about setting the groundwork for the foundation of golf, like raising a child and watching it grow," Wilson said. "What I liked about the course after studying all the opinions of the players about the course on-line, I got the impression it was a good golf course, fun to play with great greens, but not well run or something---something was not quite right, I don't know what it is, it doesn't make sense to me because this course is in a market that should be able to make it financially."

Wilson, born in Kansas and raised in Omaha, Nebraska has been at several clubs during his longtime career in the golf business and can play and teach the game at highly proficient level.

Wilson qualified for the National Senior Club Professional Championship several times and won the Iowa senior section championship three times.

Maintenance

Saddle Creek will be in good hands as far as the course maintenance with the hiring of experienced golf course superintendent Will McCullough, who won Eagle Golf Superintendent of the Year in 2013-thru-2015 and was instrumental in the maintenance of the new Hideaway Golf Course in Arrington.

McCullough, who moved from Texas after his wife got a job Nashville, has also been in the golf course business for many years with the Evergreen Alliance Golf Ltd. (EAGL) management group.

"He is a great guy, a very hard working guy, this guy has got skills," Wilson said. "Will and I are convinced that although we all take care of the major things like the fairways and the greens, it's the accumulation of the dozens of the little things that make the difference."

Wilson and his Integrity Golf Group will stress junior golf and some of the events he has planned is Nine & Dine, Chamber of Commerce Golf Day, Club Championship, Weekly Sunday morning points game, Monday night Ladies League, Wednesday afternoon Corporate League, Member medal and match play events and a Ryder Cup type of event versus another yet unspecified golf course.