To thank the Erwin Elks Lodge for allowing them to practice there, the members of the Unicoi County High School golf team painted tee boxes at the club. (Photo contributed by Gene Renfro)

By Keeli Parkey

When the coach of the Unicoi County High School golf team went searching for a place to practice, the Erwin Elks Lodge welcomed him and his players with open arms.

“Since Buffalo Valley closed and has not reopened, we needed somewhere to go and the Elks Lodge was gracious to have the team there,” head coach Gene Renfro said. “We can’t thank the Elks enough for having us there.”

For many years, the UCHS golf program practiced and played its home matches at Buffalo Valley Golf Course; however, with the course now closed, Renfro’s squad needed a new place to practice. Thanks to the willingness of the Elks Lodge to make its course available, the Blue Devils have had a place to prepare for their 2018 campaign.

“We have practiced there during the previous two weeks and scrimmaged with David Crockett there,” Renfro said. … “Practice is going well. … We have worked a lot on our short game and hitting to targets. Hopefully, once matches begin we can translate that to the course.”

The Blue Devils recently paid the Elks Lodge back for its generosity. Renfro said during a practice last week, his squad took a break from swinging their clubs to paint the tee boxes at the Erwin course.

“We integrated that into practice,” he added.

The Blue Devils will open the 2018 season at Cattails Golf Course on Monday, July 30, against Dobyns-Bennett and Volunteer. The season will continue through September. The Erwin Record will print its annual golf preview story in an upcoming issue.

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Renfro and his players will be having fundraisers in the coming weeks, including the 2018 Unicoi County Blue Devil Golf Classic on Saturday, Aug. 4. This event will be held at the Erwin Elks Club Golf Course beginning at 9 a.m. and will be an 18-hole select shot format with three-person teams.

The cost to participate in the tournament is $25 for individual players or $75 for a team of three. Hole sponsorships are $75 each; lunch sponsorships are $300; and title sponsorships are available for $500.

The event will include goody bags for every player, a postround meal, prizes and contest, silent auction items and mulligans. All proceeds will go to the Unicoi County High School golf program. For more information, contact Renfro at 335-2076 or renfrog@unicoischools.com.

The team will also have a fundraiser at Petro’s on Aug. 13.