PDT Sports Writer
One condition was set by Tyson Phillips prior to his hiring three seasons ago as girls basketball coach at Portsmouth High School.
When an opportunity to move up in his primary profession was too much for him to pass up, he was going to make the move.
That day has come as Phillips, a 1994 West graduate, will leave his positions with Shawnee State Golf Course and the Trojans to become the newest director of golf at Lake Cumberland Golf Club, located in Jamestown, Ky. The Daily Times first learned of the decision Sept. 25.
“I started in the golf business as just a teaching pro then to the assistant pro and to my head professional title with Shawnee is just a step up the ladder,” Phillips said.
The process was swift as course officials contacted Phillips in the middle part of August. A couple of unnamed golfers that were playing in a tournament at the course referred management to Phillips.
Previously known as Lilly Creek Resort, Lake Cumberland was purchased three years ago by current course CEO Brian Cooper and has already been the subject of a $6-plus million renovation. Everything from the clubhouse to the practice range to the course itself has undergone a major face lift with more improvements on the horizon. The course reopened with the new name this years after being shut down the previous two.
The pitch of being one of the premier public courses in the commonwealth also piqued Phillips’ interest. With the position, he will be able to make decisions on the day-to-day operations of the facility.
“What impressed me with Tyson was with his ability to communicate with people,” Cooper said. “…We were looking for someone to come to this course and build camaraderie.”
A few days on the course and the lake with management and locals sealed the deal.
“From tee to green, every hole on the golf course could be the signature hole,” Phillips said. “You’ve got two or three holes that have waterfalls around the green, the fairways are nicely manicured and the greens are rolling a 10 or 11 on the Stimpmeter, which the greens are really nice. The whole course has a lot of character to it and a lot of definition, the golf course is just beautiful.”
Portsmouth athletic director Joe Albrecht thanked Phillips for his service.
“It was a dream job for him and I know it was a tough decision to make,” Albrecht said. “… He went above and beyond the call of duty.”
During his time with the Trojans, the former Senator could not find a bad thing to say about the students, players, staff or administration and will miss everyone.
This is not the first time Phillips has been approached to leave for another course as he has been courted by other places for nearly a decade. However, he felt this was the right place.
While the new venture does bring happiness for Phillips and his family, there will be some difficulties when it comes to leaving home. He thanked his superiors for the opportunity and understanding the situation.
“All of the golfers, from the members to the guests (were) great,” Phillips said. “(They were) great to me, easy to get along with and very friendly.
“…I could go to any street corner in town, any store or anywhere I went around basically the whole southern Ohio area, I knew somebody from either working at the golf course or coaching basketball. That’s going to be the biggest change.”
The process to hire Phillips’ successor in both occupations is in the early stages. While the move comes at the right time on the golf calendar, it will force Portsmouth athletic officials to find the next head basketball coach with the first day of coaching allowed by the OHSAA set for Oct. 25 and the season opener Nov. 22 as the Trojans are set to welcome arch rival Ironton to town.
Along with Elizabeth Alexander, Phillips and their two kids, 10-year-old Tori and seven-year-old Cameron, will make the move once Cameron competes in next weekend’s U.S. Kids Golf PGA Golf Club Invitational in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Cody Leist can be reached at 353-3101, ext. 294, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking sports news, follow Cody on Twitter @CodyLeist.