The send-off Red Price received Wednesday night at Forest Hills Golf Club was so heartfelt, even the stoic Price was touched.
Price, the former head pro and general manager of the club for more than 23 years, normally shuns the spotlight. On this night, he was the man of the hour in what was billed as a Retirement Celebration.
"This is kind of awesome; kind of overwhelming to me," Price said in his remarks.
A standing-room-only crowd showed up to thank Price for his service, including Mayor Bob Young, who presented Price with a proclamation declaring Aug. 18 John H. "Red" Price day in Augusta.
"You know the old saying, 'golf's been good to me?' Well, golf has been good to me," the 63-year-old Price said.
In their comments, club members, Augusta State University officials and the presidents Augusta Golf Association said it was the other way around.
That was especially true for officials of the AGA, the group that manages Forest Hills for Augusta State. The AGA took over Forest Hills - formerly known as Gordon-Augusta Golf Course - in 1978. After going through two ineffective head pros and general managers in three years, the group was in dire financial straits.
Price, who started Jan. 2, 1981, turned the operation around. On his watch, the club has generated more than $4 million for Augusta State athletics.
"A lot people don't know this, but Red saved the AGA," said North Goodwin, the current AGA president.
"He pulled it out," said Lee Parks, a former AGA president. "We had some people that didn't know how to run it. He brought his superintendent and made it look decent and he got people out here playing. He just knew how to run it.
"The banks going to call our notes," Parks said. "We almost lost it. That's when the committee found Red."
Andy Kilpatrick, an AGA president in the early 1980s, recalled a note he wrote to himself during his term about Price.
"It said, 'he's tough and determined, which we all know. He's tender and fair, which most of us know. He's honest and loyal, which all of us know, and he is a true friend," Kilpatrick said."
"It's been a good partnership," Price said of his relationship with the AGA.
Price will still be a fixture, just on a more limited basis, at Forest Hills. Since his "retirement" June 30, he has worked behind the counter from the 7 a.m. opening to 1 p.m. each day. His official title is consultant, a job he hopes to keep until his 65th birthday Oct. 2005.
"He's getting tired, he really is," said Price's wife, Faye. "He doesn't want to really retire, but it's time he slowed down. He's really welcoming this slowing down some. He doesn't want to get out of the business altogether, but he's ready to slow down."
"When I get up in the morning, and I've always been this way, my feet are ready to go," Price said. "I say, 'let's go.' I enjoy what I do; I've always enjoyed what I do and it's been a real pleasure."
Reach David Westin at (706) 724-0851 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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