McDERMOTT — When an opportunity at the Elks Country Club came about following the closure of Shawnee State Park Golf Course to the public, the fit of whom would best serve as the pro at Scioto County’s lone 18-hole course seemed to make too much sense — for both Tyson Phillips and the course.
Spending 14 of the last 17 years at the now-closed Shawnee course, Phillips was approached with a chance to return home to help better the game of golf in southern Ohio and Scioto County as the Elks’ new pro.
“We’ve tried to make this work in the past, me coming down to work here,” Phillips said on Thursday morning. “Spending three hours working away from my family in Oxford, the time was right for me to come back. The Elks approached me in December and we were able to get me started for this season.”
Phillips began his career in golf as the assistant pro at Findlay Country Club, before spending four years at the First Tee of Augusta with Augusta National Golf Club as the assistant pro.
A graduate of Portsmouth West High School, Phillips then returned home to dedicate 14 of the last 17 years of his life as the course pro for the Shawnee State Park Golf Course.
Phillips’ fit inside the Elks’ clubhouse is a different one than he’s used to during his professional days, but not unique to his experiences as someone who grew up in Scioto County.
“My grandma is the one who got me started into golf,” Phillips said. “Her and my grandpa were members here at the Elks.”
In addition to his professional career as a golf pro, Phillips has also served youth sports in Scioto County and northeastern Kentucky — in his current role as an assistant boys basketball coach at Portsmouth and in both head and assistant coaching capacities at Portsmouth, Portsmouth West and Greenup County (Ky.) School Districts.
The closure of Shawnee Golf Course indeed makes The Elks Scioto County’s only 18-hole course, which will subsequently mean the days of walk-in golfers to be less likely.
Patrons instead will likely have to call in advance and request a tee time due to the level of increased interest Phillips believes the course will have.
“The day-to-day operations are going to be huge with us being the only 18-hole golf course in Scioto County,” Phillips said. “Tee times are almost going to be mandatory. It’s going to be very rare you’ll be able to get here and walk straight to the first tee and start playing.”
To help combat that issue and give golfers every opportunity to schedule their tee time, members and non-members can visit elkscountryclub.com for a full calendar of dates and times to schedule your upcoming outing.
Phillips also mentioned that coming soon each golf cart will have a GPS unit to help aid golfers with distances during their round.
“No matter where you’re at on the golf course, you’ll be able to see the yardage to each hole,” Phillips said. “Front, middle, and back. Hopefully it’ll help speed up play a little bit, and it’s also an added amenity for our golfers.”
The changes at the 1924 Donald Ross-designed course for this coming golf season don’t stop there, however.
Phillips added that the course is planning to over-seed and re-seed the rough areas, add new items available in the pro shop by the end of March or beginning of April, and increase its kitchen menu in the clubhouse as ownership has purchased new grills and stoves and is hoping to hire a cook to prepare specialty meals for league nights and tournament play.
Elks Country Club is also preparing to host its Pot of Golf event — to be held Saturday, April 18 at the Elks City Club located at 544 4th Street in Portsmouth.
Tickets to the event are $125 as only 200 tickets will be sold, as attendees may also purchase a $20 meal ticket for the chicken/rib dinner from The Scioto Ribber.
Total prizes for the event total $20,300 and include cash prizes, golf memberships and golf clubs.
“It’s an old piece of history,” Phillips said of the course’s design and designer. “Donald Ross is a well-known architect in the golf business, and we’re very proud to have one of his courses right here in Scioto County.”
Visit elkscountryclub.com to view all amenities Elks Country Club will offer for the upcoming golf season including online tee-time booking, membership rates, a calendar of upcoming events to take place at the course, wedding rental information and more.
The Donald Ross-designed Elks Country Club, located at 19787 OH-73 in McDermott, is Scioto County’s only 18-hole golf course.
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