Robert Hoadley Among Sullivan Semifinalists
If The First Tee of the Sandhills ever needs a testimonial, it has a living one in Robert Hoadley, of Southern Pines.
Hoadley was one of the first “star” pupils of The First Tee and has epitomized everything the association stands for in golf and in life.
Perhaps Hoadley would have excelled in the game without The First Tee. We have no way of really knowing that. But the fact is that he’s lived up to the exacting credo of the organization and has earned the respect and admiration of practically everyone who knows him.
Now a sophomore on the golf team at UNC Greensboro, Hoadley has earned national recognition by becoming one of 12 semifinalists for the annual AAU Sullivan Award.
This award is presented annually to the nation’s outstanding amateur athlete and is based on leadership, character and sportsmanship, all of which The First Tee emphasizes. Recent past winners include Michael Phelps, Tim Tebow and Shawn Johnson. This year’s winner will be announced in New York on March 14.
Hoadley won the North Carolina Junior Championship in 2007 and represented the Sandhills Chapter of The First Tee in the Wal-Mart Championship at Pebble Beach twice as a junior player. He had two top 10 finishes as a freshman at Greensboro and has won several amateur events, both individually and in partnerships with other players.
Hoadley joins some elite athletes as a semifinalist. Among them are Auburn quarterback and Heisman winner Cam Newton and Olympic gold medalist figure skater Evan Lysacek, who was named the 2010 Sportsman of the Year by the U.S. Olympic Committee.
Obviously, Hoadley has some stiff competition. But he’s already a winner in the eyes of everyone who knows him, and this only builds his resume.
We can only add our names to the list of well-wishers for this shining example of a First Tee product. But it also needs to be we must also remember that his parents deserve a round of applause for their guidance through his formative years.
The closing and eventual sale of The Pit Golf Links doesn’t have to be the purveyor of doom for golf courses in the Sandhills.
The Pit was struggling in recent years despite a great national reputation and being considered one of the “must play” courses in the area by many national publications.
Dan Maples, a Carolinas Golf Hall of Fame architect and the son of the much praised Ellis Maples, designed, built and operated The Pit. It was one of his pet projects and he loved tinkering with the layout, always trying to improve it and make it even more special than it already was.
I have spoken briefly to Maples since the sale of the course and hope to talk to him for a later article. But I know that no matter what tone he uses in describing the failure of The Pit, it is a sad time for him. He loved The Pit. and it was the last property he disposed of as the economy kept slip-sliding away.
Area courses have fought the good fight, and some have come up with plans that have helped keep operations alive if not profitable.
Pine Needles, the Peggy Kirk Bell resort and showplace that hosted three U.S. Women’s Opens in an 11-year span from 1996 to 2007, started a membership program last year and saw immediate positive results with dues coming in.
In a recent conversation with John McDougald, the director of golf operations for Talamore and Mid South Golf Clubs, he pointed out that some courses, such as Mid South, are feeling the lack of new members. He did declare, however, that both Mid South and Talamore are in no danger financially.
With the economy drying up, retirees from other sections of the country who would normally have been relocating to this area are finding it hard to sell their homes and make the move. And that’s even if their IRAs survived the series of market declines.
With the average age of Pinehurst area residents being higher than in most parts of the country, it’s vital that new members keep coming.
I know, nobody ever dies in Pinehurst, but a lot of us do go on prolonged visits elsewhere occasionally.
Contact Howard Ward at howardward @att.net. To vote for Robert Hoadley for the AAU Sullivan Award, visit www. aausullivan.org.
More like this story