Originally created 05/11/05

Hall will not hurry to replace director



The Georgia Golf Hall of Fame doesn't plan to replace executive director Mark Darnell, at least not anytime soon.

Darnell resigned in March, and his last day on the job at the Augusta-based hall was April 30.

A former dean of area golf club pros, Darnell had held the position at the hall of fame since December 2002. He plans to concentrate on consultant work with out-of-town golf courses.

"We probably won't look to hire an executive director until the entire attraction is complete, which is the gardens and the hall of fame (building)," said Dianne King, the hall's marketing director.

It could be years before the hall's building is built. In the meantime, the hall of fame's board of directors and executive committee will take over the leadership.

Darnell's exit ends 15 years of involvement with the hall of fame. Starting in 1990, he served on the board of directors for 10 years, then served as chairman of the board for two years before becoming executive director. The former West Lake Country Club head pro was also inducted into the hall as a member in 2000.

"I think after that kind of period of time, it was time for a change," Darnell said. "I think it was time for a change not only for me, but I think for them, too. I'm looking forward to new opportunities. Change is good."

Darnell said the timing was right to leave.

"They've basically got a new board of directors at the hall, and they've got some great, wonderful ideas," Darnell said. "The hall of fame will do very well moving forward."

Darnell, who was the head pro at West Lake for 33 years before being forced out in November 2002, had been doing some consulting work at a North Carolina golf course over the past "six to eight" months, he said.

He's had other offers to be a consultant, which he now plans to pursue.

"I wanted to take advantage of them and devote time to it," Darnell said. "If I tried to do both (work at the hall and consult) it wouldn't be fair to either party."

He plans to take on two more consulting jobs, also in North Carolina. He can do much of the work out of his Martinez home, with occasional visits to the courses, he said.

Darnell, a PGA of America Master Professional who has conducted hundreds of seminars, is certified with the PGA as a general manager and as a merchandiser, which is why he is in demand as a consultant.

"It's mainly the general manager's side that I'm working on," said Darnell, who periodically served as West Lake's general manager.

As a consultant, Darnell studies a club's policies and procedures and works on budgets in an effort to make the operation more efficient.

He is also has consulted with courses that haven't opened, helping set their management policies.

"It's fun to set those up; you don't have to change anything," Darnell said.

Business is good in that field right now.

"You can always tell when golf is flat; consulting work picks up," Darnell said. "They want a quick fix. They want you to work for a few months rather than hiring new employees."

HEAD PRO SEARCH: Expect the general manager/head pro position at Augusta's Forest Hills Golf Club to be filled by July.

"I think it will be done sometime in June, most likely mid-June. By July 1, for sure," said Augusta State University Athletic Director Clint Bryant, who is on Forest Hills Management Committee's six-man search committee.

The dual positions at Forest Hills have been vacant since April 10 when Robby Watson left to be head pro at Columbia County's Bartram Trail Golf Club, which opens Aug. 1.

Forest Hills assistant pro Scott Allen has assumed those duties on an interim basis since Watson's departure. Bryant said the search committee has received 25 rsums, including one from Allen, who was recommended for the job by Watson when he left. The deadline for submitting rsums was April 29.

The search committee will meet "in two weeks" and "whittle down" the list of candidates, Bryant said.

After interviewing the finalists, Bryant said the search committee will make a recommendation on its choice to the 13-man management committee.

NEW HOME: The Gordon Uhl/Golf Capital Invitational makes its debut at Forest Hills Golf Club on May 21-22. The Regions Cup tournament had been played at Graniteville's Midland Valley Country Club for the past seven years.

Now in its 42nd year, the tournament started at Green Meadows Country Club (1964-69), then moved to Goshen Plantation Golf Club (1970-97) before going to Midland Valley.

Entries can be picked up at Forest Hills or by calling Linda Uhl at 823-2339.

Entry fee of $120 covers green fees for the tournament rounds (with carts) and a practice round between May 16-20.

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