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Showing 7 articles from April 10, 2013.

Ask Ken Beck

Lebanon's quiet golf legend

The Wilson Post

The Masters Tournament, which tees off Thursday at Augusta National in Georgia, stokes tales of Bobby Jones, the greatest name in amateur golf history.

While the tales abound about Jones, who captured the Grand Slam of Golf in 1930, a smattering of Tennesseans will recollect a late Lebanon Golf and Country Club member, Emmett Spicer Jr., whom Jones considered his better.

He is the best Ive ever seen, Jones said about 75 years ago. He is better than I am, but I can probably out-putt him.

In 1931, the Associated Press reported Spicer is ranked second only to Bobby Jones as a stylist in Dixie golf ranks.

Among career highlights of the golfer, who for the most part shaped his sparkling game from tee to green in Memphis, were five Tennessee State Amateur titles and two Southern Amateur championships.

Spicer, manager of the Lebanon Coca-Cola Bottling Plant 50 years ago, had three children who went to Lebanon High, Rosalyn, Kathy and Stuart; and great-grandson Jay Pittman played on the Lebanon High golf team this past fall.

Comparing his golf game to his great-grandfathers, Pittman, 17, confessed, Ive got a ways to go.

Starting catcher on the Lebanon Blue Devils baseball team this spring, Pittman considers hardball his favorite sport, but he began golfing at 10 due to the encouragement of his grandmother Kathy Hesson.

I just wanted him to play since my dad said that it was a game you could play your whole life. Id drive the cart and hed play, said Spicers daughter Kathy recently at the Lebanon Golf and Country Club. My best memories of my dad are here: Watching him putting on the practice putting green.

When I was growing up, he was playing for pleasure, recalled Stuart Spicer of Murfreesboro, noting that his fathers weekend foursome normally included local businessmen K.O. Lester Sr., John Draper and Theo Floyd.

Once, when he was much older, some young fellow found out who he was and challenged him to a game of golf, thinking that he would show everybody how good he was. Dad kept putting him off, until he finally told him, All right, I tell you what Ill do. Ill play with a putter and you use a full set of clubs, and well play five holes, and he beat him.

That Spicer played a great game is obvious from the record books. His skill was more than simply hard work.

I think he was naturally gifted, said Rosalyn Wilkerson of Smyrna of her father. He was a perfectionist. He was an only child, and he loved us all a lot but it was his way. When I was in school I had to make straight As. If didnt, I got grounded.

Wilkersons daughter, Lisa Ramsay of Walterhill, has turned into the family historian, inspired in 2003 by her grandfathers posthumous induction into the Tennessee Golf Hall of Fame.

I guess I heard about his career growing up to some extent. I saw some of the trophies in my grandparents house. I knew that he golfed but didnt really understand what that meant. When I saw the state amateur trophy, which is really big, with his name on it, I thought, That is really cool. It just got me interested in knowing more, Ramsay said.

The Hall of Fame noted about her granddad: In eight years, from 1926 to 1933, Emmett Spicer of Memphis set a standard for golf in Tennessee that has never been duplicated. During this period, few tournaments were available for the everyday working man to play in, yet he won five TGA State Amateur Championships.

Nashville Banner Sports Editor Ralph McGill wrote of the golfer in 1928 when he notched his second state golf crown: It was the frail, modest Spicer, big of hand and heart and a master stylist, who showed the field what great golf was. There was not a contestant in the field of 215 who could have furnished him with serious competition. One, if sentimentally inclined in his golf, could almost fall in love with that left arm of Spicers. One could almost dream of those big hands and the wrist-lash that enables him to get a golf ball down the fair-green near 300 yards every clip.

Gene Pearce, author of The History of Tennessee Golf, said, Emmett Spicer was the greatest golfer Tennessee had ever produced up until Cary Middlecoff. Cary, in one of his books, mentioned that he had modeled his swings after Spicer, yet people who had seen both of them play said they had never seen any similarities. Cary said, That was true, but I did try to incorporate all of the key elements of Spicers swing into mine.

Chasteen Harris was a contemporary of Spicer. According to his daughter, Harris was invited to play in the first Masters. Judy Harris of Columbia (Tennessee) said not playing was the one thing he regretted about his golf career. If Chasteen was invited, I have to believe Emmett was too. Both were members of Colonial Country Club. Spicer won five State Amateurs and two Southern Amateurs. Harris won each of these tournaments once. Bobby Jones played several exhibition matches in Memphis and was always complementary of Spicer and Harris.

Born Aug. 3, 1905, in Clarksville, Robert Emmett Spicer Jr. moved to Memphis at 5 years of age with his father, an accountant for Coca-Cola, and mother. He began golfing at about 12 at the Colonial Country Club, initially learning the game from club pro Frank Sprogell.

On June 3, 1923, at age 17, Spicer captured the Colonial Country Club title and later that year won the Memphis city golf title. The next year at 18, he set the Colonial course record at 66, and for a lark shot a 35 at the Overton Park course with his putter as his only club.

Over a 10-year span, Spicer won state amateur titles in 1926, 1928, 1929, 1932 and 1933 and finished runner-up in 1924 and 1930. He won two Southern Amateur Championships in 1926 and 1930 and six Memphis city titles.

At Colonial on June 9, 1927, Spicer and Harris played an exhibition match against the Peachtree States Bobby Jones and Watts Gunn. The Memphians lost the match as Jones shot a 69 and Spicer a 70. Among other golfing giants of the day, Spicer played head to head against Gene Sarazen and Walter Hagen.

As for other accomplishments, he broke the Belle Meade Country Club course record in 1927 by shooting a 66. He moved to Nashville in the summer of 1928 at a time when he was booming 275-yard drives in the era of hickory-shaft golf clubs.

While employed by National Life and Accident Insurance Company and a member at Belle Mead, he became the first golfer from Nashville to play in the National Open in 1929. He competed in the 1932 U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur and likely would have played more national events except for the expenses. He once said, A fellow must eat. Tournaments cost too much for a working boy.

While professional golf in the 1930s paid very little in prize money compared to todays PGA, Spicer took a stab as a pro in January 1935 and entered the Los Angeles Open and a few other West Coast events.

As far as I can tell, we couldnt find where he won any prize money, said granddaughter Ramsay, thus he returned to the amateur ranks and took a job as a Coca-Cola route salesman and truck driver in Cairo, Ill., and later became an accountant.

By this time, Spicer had married Maureen Stuart of Brownsville. The couple was in the midst of raising three youngsters when they moved to Lebanon, where Spicer managed the Coca-Cola Bottling Plant for 10 years.

Recollecting how his father practiced the game, Stuart said, He didnt like to putt. He didnt think he was a very good putter. His whole thing was, If I can lay the ball right where I want it, I wont have to putt. I can just tap it in. He would put a hat out in the yard and practice chipping, and hed put a 100 balls out and chip until he put every ball in the hat.

Spicer had plans for his young son to be a chip off the old block but it was not to be.

The last time I ever played was at Lebanon Golf and Country Club on a Fourth of July, when we always had tournaments. For my age range, I was maybe 8 years old, I only had to play five holes, Stuart said.

The fifth hole was a dogleg around the woods, and I ended up in the woods. I decided to cut through instead of chip out. He was standing up there watching me, but I didnt know it. I hit about two or three trees and lost by two or three strokes so when I come up past him, he said, You dont deserve to win if youre gonna play like that. So I put em down and didnt pick em up again.

That day my mother, my father and Kathy all won their divisions, and I didnt, said Stuart, now able to laugh about the incident.

A few years later, Stuarts father prompted him to give the sport another try.

It was the summer after the seventh grade, and I had been offered a job at the Western Auto Store, he reminisced. I came home to ask Dad and Mom about it. He said, Well, I tell you what you can do, you can either play golf or go to work. Ill pay you to play golf or you can work.

I said, What does it mean pay me to play golf? He said, Youll be out every day after school practicing. Youll be out there as if it was a job, and I said, I believe Ill go to work. In hindsight, looking at Tiger Woods now, maybe I would have been better off.

Emmett Spicer continued to play the game he loved, still shooting in the 80s, until a year or so before his death of cancer at 67 in 1972. Laid to rest at Wilson County Memorial Gardens, he was remembered for his personal philosophy Live today as if it were your last. Plan for tomorrow as if it were forever and noted for the maxim, Dont forget to smell the flowers along the way.

Daddy didnt talk about it, Wilkerson said about his glory days on the links. He never wanted to be put on a pedestal.

He was very humble about his past, Hesson said. We had these old trophies upstairs in the attic. He didnt put them on shelves and show them. Later (when the price of silver rose to record high prices), Mother sold em. We said, Daddy finally made money from playing golf.

Spicers offspring hold on to precious few mementoes from their fathers victories across the Southland; however memories of the night of his induction into the Tennessee Golf Hall of Fame may be their best souvenir.

Wilkerson said of the event, which featured speakers Vince Gill and Nancy Lopez, It was a lovely night and it was really emotional for me. To think after all those years that he got that recognition.

I was just the proudest I could be of him, Hesson said, seeing him finally recognized for what he had done.

I had mixed emotions to tell you the truth, Stuart said. I was excited and sad at the same time, because I felt like the fame was not what it was all about to him. It was about playing the game to the best of his abilities and with all his heart, not to receive recognition from others but to be the best you could be at something you loved!

When I was little, people would walk up to him and find out who he was and look up to him in awe. I kinda began to put him way up on this pedestal that he never asked to be on. I placed him in a position too hard for anyone. But when you saw and heard people talking about him, not only was I proud but inspired, and I guess I found a hero in him for my own sake.

Emmett Spicers granddaughter Lisa Ramsay sums up his Tennessee golf legacy saying modestly, Im not a golfer, but from what Ive read, it sounds like there havent been that many people as good as he was.

There havent been, not by a long shot.


Wilson Living


Wilson Living Magazine

There were seven beeps then nothing. When I tried rebooting, the same seven beeps and blank screen. Thats how a device that weighs less than a newborn, has no conscience or sense of urgency turned my life completely upside down for SEVEN FULL DAYS!

When I took my tech baby to the doctor, I got the standard battery of questions. If theres anything that will make you feel more inept as a human being its being questioned by an IT Specialist, Programmer, System Administrator or any other computer person title you can think of that means, You are a complete moron and a disgrace to

Silicon Valley


By the grace of Steve Jobs I found a guy that is cool with me not worshipping at the altar of Apple to fix my super inefficient Windows-operating laptop without using inside words like PITA to describe me. (LOOK IT UP)

Heres how the conversation went:

Did you notice your processor overheating?

Whats a processor?

Its the brain of your computer; the memory, everything. When it overheats for an extended amount of time, it will completely shut down and take everything with it.

He acted like it was no big deal, so I really didnt think there was a reason to worry. I felt super smart. We were getting each other. For a moment, I felt technically superior, even thinking that I may adopt all hoodie/flip flop wardrobe and listening to continuous loop of dub step. But then, he continued.

Since everybody backs up these days, its not that big of a deal to lose your information.

Right. Wait, what? What do you mean? Ive lost everything on my computer?

Probably, but as long as you saved it on your external hard drive, dont worry about it.

My what? Is that another name for a thumb drive?

He looked over the top of his reading glasses as if he was trying to decide if I was joking or a complete moron. Thats when he realized that, yes, I am a complete moron and not really that funny. In fact, it was just a few months ago I learned that Google is considered a verb.

This is probably where his story and my story will differ.

He might say I got emotional and tried talking him out of giving up so easy. He might even say that I blamed this whole fiasco on my children, my husband, the Harlem Shake or the fact that I was a Jehovahs Witness as a child.

I would like to say this is NOT how it happened. But, because this person recovered all of that very valuable information, Im not going to call him a liar. Im not even going to blame it on PMS. I will just say this: I may be an idiot. I may not know the difference between MB and RAM. I may have outdated software, still use Internet Explorer, and prefer Facebook to Twitter. HOWEVER, I do know the computer I just ordered is already obsolete, techie people are 21st century mechanics spouting off a dialect mere mortals cant understand, and the next time someone asks about backing up, Ill know they are not talking about a persons driving abilities.

Email any comments to because luckily she knows how to check email.


General News

Fiddlers Grove designated historic site

Fiddlers Grove Historical Village, located on the grounds of the James E. Ward Agricultural Center, Lebanon, has been named a designated historic site by The Association for the Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities.

The APTA is the oldest nonprofit historic preservation organization in the State of Tennessee and the fourth oldest in the nation. Since 1951, APTA has been working to preserve and maintain historic sites that played an important role in Tennessees rich cultural heritage. APTAs mission is to promote and encourage active participation in the preservation of Tennessees rich historic, cultural, architectural and archeological heritage through restoration, education, advocacy and statewide cooperation.

Currently, there are 11 chapters that administer 14 sites. APTA sites include: Belle Meade Plantation, Nashville; The Athenaeum Rectory, Columbia; Buchanan Log House, Nashville; Crockett Tavern Museum, Morristown; Glenmore Mansion, Jefferson City; Ramsey House Plantation, Knoxville; Holy Innocents Cemetery, Arlington; Rachel H. K. Burrow Museum, Arlington; Historic Post Office, Arlington; Blacksmith Shop Site, Arlington; The Pillars, Bolivar; The Little Courthouse, Bolivar; Lee House, Memphis; and Woodruff-Fontaine House, Memphis.

Hawkins County and Rutherford County also have APTA chapters.

As part of their program each year, APTA considers historical site nominations from each Grand Division of the State of Tennessee. Two nominations in each Grand Division are selected, and Fiddlers Grove was one of the sites selected in 2012 for the Middle Tennessee division.

The Fiddlers Grove Foundation, Wilson County Promotions, and The Association for the Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities (APTA) extends an invitation to all citizens to the dedication of the APTA Historic Site Marker at 2:30 p.m., Sunday, April 28, at Fiddlers Grove Historical Village, followed by a reception at the Jordan House.

For additional information, contact James Jordan, chairman of the dedication committee, at 838-8524.

New permits show growth

The Wilson Post

A sure sign that Wilson County is growing can be found in the increasing number of building permits issued in the first quarter of 2013.

Wilson County Building Inspectors Office Assistant Marlene Davidson said that 126 total building permits were issued from January to March of this year, including single family homes, mobile homes and commercial properties.

Back in 2005 we had 632 homes built in the year. It went down slightly in 2006 and in 2008 it went down to about a third and continued to decline. It bottomed in 2010 at 150 for the entire year, Davidson explained. We were happy to see that number come up to 185 in 2012. We are glad to see it quit declining.

Numbers have been fairly consistent for January, February and March of 2013 compared to the first three months of 2012 in Wilson County. In January 2012, a total of 31 permits were issued- 12 of which were single family homes. In January 2013, a total of 34 permits were issued 18 of which were single family homes.

Twenty-one total permits were issued in February 2012, seven of which were single family homes. Thirty-three permits were issued in February 2013, with 18 being single family homes. In March 2012, 58 permits were issued, with 19 being single family homes. In March 2013, 59 permits were issued, with 18 being single family homes.

Davidson said the department sees two booms throughout the year typically in the fall and spring. Basically people come in October to go ahead and apply for their permits, so they can work and get inside. We see another spike in February and March once those fall homes get finished, she said, adding that most building permits are issued to contractors.

Mt. Juliet Codes Department Permit Tech Chris Harvieux said business has been steady in West Wilson as well.

In January 2012, 13 single family home permits were issued compared to 34 single family home permits issued in January 2013. Twenty-six single family home permits were issued in February 2012 in the city, compared 21 single family home permits issued in February 2013.

Lebanon Building Inspections has issued 81 single family home permits this year as of Tuesday, April 9 17 in January, 36 in February, 13 in March and 15 in the first week of April, said Chief Building Official Danny Raines.

Raines said that in 2012 nine permits were issued in January, 14 in February and 15 in March.

Weather concerns cancel after school activities at Lebanon High

BULLETIN -- Due to the threat of severe weather Thursday afternoon, all after school activities at Lebanon High School have been canceled. This includes all sporting events, choir, dance, theater, after school detention, or any scheduled after school activity. 2:04 pm

Meteorologists at the National Weather Service Office in Old Hickory are keeping their eyes on a storm system expected to move through Wilson and other counties in Middle Tennessee on Thursday which could produce damaging winds and a spin-up tornado.

The storm system was expected to move through between the hours of 5-10 a.m., but meteorologists on Wednesday pushed back the arrival time to between 10 a.m.-3 p.m., said Capt. Stephen Spencer, EMA planning officer with Wilson County Emergency Management Agency.

This means the heating of the day could influence the strength of the storms compared to a daybreak impact time, he said.

A Special Weather Statement from the NWS said a squall line was expected to move east from Arkansas and would be along the Mississippi River by 1 a.m. It was expected to weaken as it neared the Tennessee River around 8 a.m., Thursday, but showers and thunderstorms are expected to regenerate during the morning with a few possibly becoming strong to severe as they move eastward across Middle Tennessee during the day on Thursday.

The main threat will be damaging straight line winds, the statement said, adding large hail was possible, also.

The weather service does not expect a large tornado outbreak from this event, however strong winds and a spin-up tornado from a thunderstorm cell is possible, but no large tornado outbreak, Spencer noted.

The statement said that for the first three months of 2013 there have been 27 tornadoes in Tennessee with no fatalities. During the first three months of 2012, there were also 27 tornadoes and three fatalities.

Stay tuned to local media and for updated information regarding this potential severe weather situation.


General Sports

April 9 prep baseball

Franklin no-hits Station Camp
GALLATIN -- A.J. Franklin threw a complete game no-hitter Tuesday night as Wilson Central defeated District 9AAA rival Station Camp 3-0. The sophomore lefty struck out 11 Bison hitters, walking one in the fifth, but picked him off base -- facing just 21 batters in the game.

The Wildcats (8-8, 3-1 in District 9AAA) scored three runs in the top of the fifth thanks to hits by CUlen Smith, Kyle Hubbuch, and Reynolds Wehunt.

CU baseball hosts UVA-Wise Friday

At long last, home. Cumberland's baseball team will host a three-game Mid-South Conference series Friday as UVA-Wise comes to town. Friday's single game starts at 2 p.m. with a 12 Noon doubleheader slated for Saturday.

The series marks CU's first home baseball games since March 23. Live radio coverage begins at 2:15 p.m. on WCOR AM-1490. The Bulldogs stand 30-13-1 overall andmoved up two spots to12th in the latest NAIA poll.

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