By Leila Beem Núñez, Editor
The Old Stone Fort Golf Course, previously Manchester Golf and Country Club closed five years ago and has since been revived by local businessman and longtime golfer, Tink Driver. Over a year after beginning to improve the grounds and facilities, the course is set to open once again 7 a.m. Tuesday, April 18.
There will be an opening ceremony on that day.
After the state department of environment and conservation closed the course along with TO Fuller state golf course, Driver was able to purchase 140 acres back from the state after two years of trying to buy it by bid. The land was originally part of the estate belonging to his wife, Judy Driver.
“It had been closed up into a wilderness, really. It took a year just to get it back in shape,” Driver said. “The course looks great now. Within three years, I think it can be the finest 18-hole golf course in the state of Tennessee.”
Currently, Old Stone Fort is a nine-hole course with hopes of future expansion.
Over the past year, Driver said he and his team of five have worked nearly every day to improve the site, redoing the greens, and planting trees and flowers, among other improvements – such as clearing land near the Little Duck River for more scenic views. Driver said the driving force behind the project has been the need in the Manchester community and in Coffee County for an affordable place to play golf, particularly for seniors and youth.
“We’re doing this for the people of Coffee County, the seniors. They have no place to play at a decent rate,” Driver said. “Of course, it’s also for juniors to come and play – and ladies. The future of golf is lady participation.”
Rates on the course include a $10 green fee to play nine holes and $18 to play nine holes with a cart. An 18-hole game will cost $28 with a cart.
Driver said the course used to be a big regional attraction for golfers, and that the scenic beauty of the course in Old Stone Fort – located near the Little Duck River – makes it a primary attraction. The grounds have cultural value, having been both hunting and ceremonial grounds for Native Americans, Driver said. He added that the Duck River has great ecological value as well, having the greatest variety of freshwater animals on the continent.
“It was a favorite golfing place for people all from all over Middle Tennessee. They really came from everywhere to play that course [when it was open],” Driver said. “It’s probably the most beautiful 140 acres there are in the county.”
Driver, who has played golf for decades and traveled to various courses around the world, said the Old Stone Fort Golf Course will be an asset to the area.
“My phone rings off the wall, people calling to ask when it’s going to open, not only from Manchester, but people from all of the surrounding counties,” Driver said. “They come from everywhere to play this course because of the scenic beauty.”