Rock Spring resident James Jones did it the other way around.
A project some 20 years in the making finally came to fruition last July when Jones and his family opened Jones Lake Par 3 Golf Course to the public.
The course, a nine-hole layout with champion Bermuda grass greens, is built on his father’s farm at the intersection of Barfield and Cooper Roads.
Jones said he and his father had discussed building a golf course on the property before, but the plan really began to take shape with the construction of the Highway 27 by-pass around the Chickamauga Battlefield.
“When the by-pass was built in the early 1990’s, the population of Rock Spring started to increase,” Jones explained. “I started designing and constructing the course in 1992. I worked on it as a hobby for 20 years, usually during the summer when I had time off from my job as a construction worker. It was one of those dreams you probably think will never happen, but you just work at it anyway.”
James and Diane Jones are co-owners of the course with their daughter and son-in-law, Kelsey and Ryan Cannington. And despite the name, it is not built around water. The course was actually named for Jones’ father, Lake, a farmer and construction worker who, ironically, didn’t play golf.
“It’s a family golf course,” Jones said. “We don’t have PGA professionals here, but we like to say this is the home of future PGA professionals. I’d say we’ve had probably 500 kids who have played their first round of golf out here in just the first year we’ve been open.”
The nine-hole layout usually requires no more than a wedge and/or a short iron and putter to play. The holes range from just under 50 yards in length to about 100 yards, and Jones says a nine-hole round can usually be completed in just about an hour.
One of the golfers playing on a warm August morning was nine-year-old Cole Rominger and his six-year-old brother Luke, who were accompanied by their grandfather.
“(The course) is very good for the family and you can come out and play golf everyday,” Cole said. “We try to come out ever weekend and play as much as we can. It’s not too hard of a course, probably about a medium-hard course for the family.”
“We have a lot of grandfathers come out to play a round with their sons and grandsons,” Jones added. “Some even bring their wives to teach them how to play. We get quite a lot of locals, and a lot of locals have become members, but we’ve also gotten a lot of people from up around Chattanooga to down around Summerville who have been out here to play.”
Jones, an avid golfer, did much of the course construction work himself, picking the brains of golf course workers and using the things he learned while serving as a marshal at the LaFayette Golf Course.
“I don’t have any (professional) education in turf management, so a lot of it was trial and error,” he said. “I talked to a lot of greenskeepers and superintendents, all of whom were very nice people who didn’t mind sharing their knowledge. I just asked questions and tried to remember the answers. When I was a marshal at LaFayette, they were building the back nine (holes), so I watched and learned a lot from that.
“I spent a lot of time burning brush and growing Bermuda grasses, testing them to see which were the strongest. But really in the last three years since I retired, a lot of work has been done. We hired about 20 different people to help finish it, along with myself and Ryan.”
Nowadays, Jones spends his days mowing grass, running the day-to-day operations of the course, and finding time to have putting contests with his grandsons, Bentley and Luke Cannington, on the homemade course that was a 20-year dream in the making.
“Sometimes they even let me win,” he adds with a chuckle.
The course offers single player and family memberships along with daily discounts for senior and junior players. Along with junior clinics on Thursdays, a Skins tournament is held all day each Friday, and the course will host a two-man select shot tournament on Saturday, Sept. 22 at 2 p.m.
Jones Lake Par 3 Golf Course
Address: 620 Cooper Road, Rock Spring
Phone: (423) 413-6372
Facebook: Jones Lake Par 3
Hours: Open 8 a.m. until dark (except Christmas Day)
Greens fees: 9 holes (walking) $7, 9 holes (with cart) $14, 18 holes (walking) $11, 18 holes (with cart) $18. No cart fee for juniors if riding with an adult. Seniors and juniors receive $2 discount for single rounds
Memberships: Single player memberships are $30 a month or $200 a year, Family memberships are $40 a month or $300 a year