Forest Hills picks Usry for position

File/Staff
David Usry: Augusta native was the head pro at North Augusta Country Club from 1998 until late February.

It didn't take long for Forest Hills Golf Club to hire a new head pro/general manager.

 

Less than 48 hours after Scott Allen was out, former North Augusta Country Club head pro David Usry was in.

Usry was approved for the job Wednesday morning by the Forest Hills management committee's executive committee, and then was introduced to the staff.

"We've looked and talked to a lot of people and he does have a lot of good experience," said Don Grantham, the management committee's chairman.

Usry, an Augusta native who was a nationally ranked junior golfer in the early 1980s, had been the North Augusta Country Club head pro from 1998 until late February when Fred Layman purchased the course. Usry was also the North Augusta club manager from 2005 until he left.

Prior to his stint at North Augusta, Usry worked at three South Carolina golf courses and also worked at a golf instructional center.

"His track record is rather impeccable as far as what he's done," Grantham said of Usry, who is 43. "We were delighted David was available to us."

Grantham said a Forest Hills member alerted him to the fact that Usry was no longer at North Augusta Country Club, and talks began in early March, he said.

"I'd like to put it on the record: I didn't pursue Scott's job in any way," Usry said. "I'm sorry about the way it was handled. I know there is a lot of negativity going on and I'll have to deal with it. I just hope people give me a chance."

According to Grantham, Usry's No. 1 priority will be to bring back interest in Forest Hills. Play has dropped off since a 2003 renovation that closed the course for 11 months. When it re-opened, the character of the course had changed. It was more difficult, and outside play suffered.

"They want to change things around and try to draw some revenue," said Allen, who commented on his departure for the first time Wednesday.

"Once we get the golf course where he needs to be, we're going to hit it very hard with a marketing plan," Usry said, referring to the conditioning of the course.

"We've got to get the course back to where it is respectable within the community," he said. "We've got a lot of hard work ahead of us to bring it up to the standards Augusta State and the Augusta Golf Association want. I do see us getting back to the level we need to be at."

Grantham said the decision to move Allen out after 22 months on the job was based on a "mutual understanding."

On Wednesday, Allen didn't want to get into a war of words with his former boss.

"I probably shouldn't say anything bad," said Allen, who started at the club as an assistant pro in 1992. "I don't know what to say. They made their decision."

Allen was surprised by his ouster at a meeting Monday afternoon, but now thinks "this decision was made months ago."

He will stay on through Wednesday; Usry takes over the following day.

"I'll finish here and start looking," Allen said of his plans. "I haven't really thought about it. I'll figure it out; it will work out for the best."

When the announcement was made that Usry would succeed him, Allen wished him good luck.

"I know Scott; he's a great guy," Usry said. "I met with him today (Wednesday) and we had a good conversation. He held no ill feelings towards me."

Reach David Westin at (706) 724-0851 or david.westin@augustachronicle.com.

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