E.A. Sports Today

Cane Creek changes


Szuch leaving for GM job in Florida; City to eliminate director of golf position, budgets course improvements

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

Cane Creek Golf Course is getting the irrigation system it so desperately needs, but the director of golf who pushed for the project is leaving and won’t be there to see its benefits.

At Tuesday’s meeting to approve the 2018 budget, the Anniston City Council approved a $150,000 item for “golf course improvements,” part of which includes the irrigation project, but in a letter dated Sept. 7 Cane Creek pro Kenny Szuch submitted his resignation saying he has accepted a position overseeing an expanding facility in Florida.

The council eliminated the budgeted $70,000 director of golf position effective Oct. 1 as part of the same budget approval.

“This absolutely is not about an individual; I would never make a decision based on an individual like that,” city councilman Jay Jenkins said. “What we looked at was the financial need to the City and the reality was we felt like as a group that position could go away.

“Why did we feel that way? There are a lot of municipal golf courses in this world that do not have a pro in place. I played one in Denver once a week that was so busy if you showed up as a single you had to wait for a threesome so you could get on the course, and it didn’t have a pro. That’s not to say the City doesn’t lose something in this process – there’s definitely a loss – but you’ve got to look at the bigger picture in all that. A director is a luxury item at a municipal course. (The position) was something we felt we could live without.”

Szuch, a former Florida State and European Tour player, has been the City of Anniston’s director of golf and Cane Creek pro since July 2009. He is leaving to become general manager of an undisclosed multi-facility residential Yacht and Country Club for a venture capital management group from South Florida. His last day at Cane Creek will be Sept. 29.

“I have turned down several opportunities over the past couple years and this one was a perfect fit for me,” Szuch said. “I’ve known and worked with one of the managing partners of the venture group previously and it is going to be fun running this very active residential Golf and Yacht Club.”

It was not immediately known how the City of Anniston would handle the operation of Cane Creek after Szuch’s departure; all the remaining staff remains in tact. The city also maintains the nine-hole Anniston Municipal Golf Course, affectionately known as “The Hill.”

Steven Folks, the city’s director of parks and recreation, and Darren Spruill, the city’s director of athletics, could not be reached for comment.

“It will still be run the way it’s being run,” Jenkins said. “The current AD job description for the City of Anniston has golf included in his duties.”

The irrigation plan and the director of golf position both were in the original budget proposal. The director’s position was eliminated in a budget amendment.

“It was kind of how do you want to spend the dollar,” Jenkins said.

A quality irrigation system is an element Cane Creek managers have been clamoring for since the City took over the facility. Szuch put together a comprehensive course improvement plan that would have cost the City a fraction of its projected $1 million price tag and been recouped in the first six months of reopening.

The plan called for the removal of thousands of trees to promote turf growth, digging a four-acre irrigation lake and replacing the existing pump station and sprinkler heads, and resurfacing the greens. The project, had it come to term, would have set up the golf course for a grand reopening in July and had it in prime tournament condition for its showcase Fort McClellan Credit Union Pro-Invitational in August.

The tree removal was the only part of the project that was undertaken.

On the cover: Cane Creek pro Kenny Szuch (R) and Emerald Coast Tour director Geno Celano flank Dalton Chandler after Chandler won the Fort McClellan Credit Union Pro-Invitational earlier this year.

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