Jimmy Koosa “listened with one ear” at the invitation and figured his meeting at Timberlake Country Club focused on instruction. Instead, he discovered the board of directors wanted his company to manage the facility’s golf operation.
“I didn’t know what I was getting into,” he said and laughed. “But I’ve never been afraid to jump into the deep end.”
Indeed, from his days of playing three sports at Cardinal Newman High, taking a shot at professional baseball and getting into golf to make ends meet, he’s been full-speed ahead.
From picking the range with a tube at LinRick at $3 an hour to operating Weed Hill Driving Range for 30-plus years to establishing Koosa Golf retail stores, his credo has been go-go-go. Along the way, he developed his golf game, worked at clubs and tested his skills on mini-tours.
Offered the Timberlake opportunity, he thought, “Why not?”
He’s no stranger to the Chapin club; he helped develop the Willard Byrd design “once upon a time.” Besides, he figures his management team — son Mickey, PGA professionals Blake Cathey and Matt Barton and former superintendent Steve Agazzi — can climb the tallest mountain.
“This is an opportunity to expand our brand,” Koosa, 71, said. “If we can be successful at Timberlake, we can be successful somewhere else.
“Really, this is both a challenge and an opportunity. Timberlake is a wonderful golf course, and the finishing hole has a spectacular view of Lake Murray. There is so much potential there.”
Koosa preaches patience to the membership on the road to improvements. After all, if there weren’t problems, he and his team would not be needed and, he said, “change doesn’t happen overnight unless you’re willing to spend a lot of money.”
His team has been at Timberlake “for six weeks or so, and we need about six months to really make a difference,” Koosa said. “We’re working with a four-man crew, and there are five areas to take care of every day. As we go along, people will notice. We’re going to expand golf opportunities with things like a junior program.
“We’re making progress within our budget. In a short amount of time, I would say the greens have gone from a ‘6’ to an ‘8’ on a 10-point scale. The bunkers need work; that’s labor and takes a lot of time. I hope we can get the irrigation straightened out by re-programming the system. The computer said sprinkler heads were putting out water, but they weren’t.”
Adding the Timberlake management responsibilities to his other businesses “is taking more time than I expected,” he said. “For example, I’m still teaching at Golden Hills, and we have the stores with fittings and lessons there.
“But again, I say, ‘Why not?’ If there’s anything I have learned over the years, it’s that you will never grow and get ahead by sitting still. I look at this as another an opportunity.”
Chip shots. USC seniors Scott Stevens (first team) and Will Miles (second team) earned berths on the All-SEC men’s golf teams. ... The Gamecocks, ranked 15th by Golfstat, and Clemson, No. 13, open play Friday in the NCAA Men’s Championship in Fayetteville, Ark. ... Kevin King (Bluffton) won the SCGA Senior Championship, edging 2018 champion Rich Weston (Pawleys Island) by one stroke at Callawassie Island Club. ... Newberry senior Harry Bolton, the South Atlantic Conference champion, has been named the league’s scholar-athlete of the year, an award that weighs athletic achievement with academic success and community service. ... The Kiawah Island Club has been chosen to stage the 2023 U.S. Men’s Amateur Four-Ball championship. Stroke-play qualifying will take place on both the River and Cassique courses with match-play set for Cassique.