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Golf Kentucky Links • View topic - Middlesboro Country Club

Middlesboro Country Club

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Middlesboro Country Club

Postby thurman » Sat Jan 19, 2013 8:05 pm

I just read that Middlesboro Country Club is the fifth oldest still-existent club in the country, founded in 1889. Easily the oldest club in the state. They also claim to be the oldest continually played course in the country (all the "clubs" older than them have gone through multiple courses, apparently). From what I can tell, it's a 9 hole semi-private in far southeastern KY, not far from Wasioto Winds.

Has anyone played this one? Know anything about it? I found a course in Middlesboro on Google Maps that fits the description. Looks pretty straighforward with just one or two bunkers, but it's still an interesting piece of history and I might be interested in seeing it if I ever get down that way.
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Re: Middlesboro Country Club

Postby A-Dub » Mon Jan 21, 2013 10:51 am

Basically, what do you need to know about it. I know most of what needs to be known about it for our purposes. I can't confirm about the 5th oldest course period, but I know it's in that neighborhood.

As far as the oldest continuously played, it does mean it has basically never closed. Many courses closed during the Depression, World Wars, many other reasons, etc. MCC never closed for any of those reasons other than weather.

Supposedly, in recent years, there was some rumor of them finding oil somewhere on the land the course owns, with consideration of drilling it and using the money and building a new 18 hole course, but from my understanding that issue is split, partially because they hesitate to lose the "Oldest Continuously Played" title and the members love the old school character out there.

It is the only course in Middlesboro, and one of two in Bell Co, the other being Wasioto Winds. Middlesboro, back during the economic boom, probably had enough members to have gone private and was really in immaculate shape. Between the building of Wasioto Winds and losing members to them, along with the failing economy, tends to have ups and downs with conditioning. They hit a stretch in the mid-2000's where it was kinda ugly, but they have been in better shape the last few years. I havent played in a few years because when I go home, I play Wasioto, but I talk to people who play there pretty regularly to keep up to date. Last time I played there was probably 2008 or so.

As for its design, it is fairly straighforward. They tend to have some decent size fairways lined with mature trees, leading to small, generally back to front sloping greens. It can be challenging, particularly if you are missing fairways and are in the trees and/or missing the small greens. The course has some short par 4's, most of them straight, with a couple dog legs. Everyone seems to love the very short par 3 number 5. It's a wedge of some sort for most people, straight up a hill. It's a solid course for a 9 holer and to be as old as it is.

You can make a nice little weekend out of going down there and playing Wasioto, Woodlake in Tazewell, and Middlesboro. When you are thinking about going down there, let me know. Like I say its my hometown and I can give you the tour of courses.
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Re: Middlesboro Country Club

Postby smashdn » Tue Jan 22, 2013 9:08 am

Jason,

Sounds like you need to find yourself a hickory set to really appreciate the course and its history.
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Re: Middlesboro Country Club

Postby A-Dub » Tue Jan 22, 2013 10:36 am

Not sure what you mean by that.
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Re: Middlesboro Country Club

Postby thurman » Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:14 am

I think Smash is making a GCA joke. A lot of those guys like to play with hickory shafts and balata/gutta balls for fun. I'm not nearly that much of a golf hipster.

I can't believe that I've never heard of Middlesboro CC though. The more I research, the more it looks like it really is the oldest course in the country still in operation. Obviously the fact that it's just a nine holer has probably kept it from wider recognition, but it's hard to believe a course in Kentucky would hold that title, let alone one in such a remote location.

I don't know that I'd plan a special trip down there, but it would definitely be worth seeing if I'm ever in the area. I'd love to play Wasioto sometime too although it would definitely be a haul. I'll keep you posted on further historical findings or any roadtrip plans.
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Re: Middlesboro Country Club

Postby A-Dub » Wed Jan 23, 2013 9:53 am

3 hours? I make that trip all the time from Louisville. Believe it or not, that area gets a nice number of tourists down there, particularly in the fall, to see the mountains, leaves changing, and play golf at Wasioto and Woodlake. Many of them don't know about Middlesboro, discount it because its 9 holes, or just think maybe they can't get on because its a "country club." Would have been a nice old school routing if it were continued for 18 holes and I would have liked to have seen it.
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Re: Middlesboro Country Club

Postby smashdn » Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:26 am

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Re: Middlesboro Country Club

Postby A-Dub » Thu Jan 24, 2013 1:02 am

Jason I'm sure you have seen it. Here is the website in case you have not, which also has a history section explaining the origin and continuing history of the club.

http://www.middlesborocountryclub.com/index.html
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Re: Middlesboro Country Club

Postby A-Dub » Wed Jul 29, 2015 12:52 pm

So I saw an article yesterday that MCC is apparently in a pretty tough situation financially. It's not terribly surprising considering the state of the golf business, but when I started playing golf back in the 90's this place was booming so its tough to imagine. Would hate to see anything happen to it.
http://middlesborodailynews.com/news/14 ... b-at-stake
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Re: Middlesboro Country Club

Postby thurman » Mon Aug 03, 2015 10:02 pm

It sounds like the community is at least committed to keeping it alive, even if it means a city takeover. Either way, I need to get down there this year. I drove through Middlesboro yesterday actually. I talked about stopping to play but we got through town a little later than planned and after seeing three trucks with huge Confederate flags flying in a two mile stretch, I think my wife decided there were other places she'd rather be left to spend 90 minutes on her own while I played. We ended up settling for mini golf at Lake Reba in Richmond.

Let me know if you head back planning to play and need a fourth. I'd be game to join. I need to do Wasioto too.
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Re: Middlesboro Country Club

Postby A-Dub » Wed Dec 16, 2015 8:19 pm

Update on MCC: They got a buyer/leaser several months ago. I'm not entirely sure on the set up of that. I think maybe its a lease to own type situation or a dollar lease deal.

Anyway, Samson Bailey, a guy from the area that owns a company called Golf Preservations Inc. has taken ownership of the course. They basically re-build greens and drainage in greens at golf courses everywhere. He has done work at many of the big courses around the nation and is in his mid to late thirties and is probably a millionaire at this point.

The winter of course is their slow time, so he is using this time to make some renovations to MCC. If you can access his Facebook without being his friend, you can see some of the things they are doing. If not, I can tell you it looks like he is doing some excellent work in re-doing all of the greens out there. Some of the before pictures are pretty crazy at the condition the greens had gotten to. I'll be interested to follow the progress they are making out there and I will probably make time to go check it out next year.
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Re: Middlesboro Country Club

Postby A-Dub » Mon May 30, 2016 11:56 am

Course is fully open now. Apparently the greens and surrounds are pretty nice, but playing slow due to the grow in. They had to completely rebuild all of them, moved 1 or 2, and changed some contouring. I believe there are plans to do the fairways later this year or next year but I have heard a couple different thoughts on that. Rates are very reasonable. They are bringing back their invitational in a couple weeks and I am debating on going in to play.
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