Report on Ross River Retreat
Annual Meeting in Knoxville Tennessee

From our Past President - Gerald Stratford

It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as your President for lo these many years and I am delighted to pass the baton to Mr Miller who showed me how the job should be done not so many years ago. 

Those of you who were not able to attend the River Retreat missed one of our best outings ever. The golf course at Holston Hills was everything we expected, a true championship golf course in extraordinary shape given the brutally hot summer this year. Good food, good drink, good friends and Southern hospitality at John and Michael's home club was splendid, and we all thought that the highlight would turn out to be the beginning. However, wonderful surprises were in store.

The Williams Creek golf course was a phenomenal track carved through dense forest. Each of the challenging par three holes (18 of them) was surprisingly nestled in dramatically tumbling terrain with wonderful bunkering and undulating greens. Tee shots that missed those greens were destined for disaster, and some of us needed to purchase additional balls when making the turn. Fazio may have designed the course, but Donald would love it. The fact that this public access golf course is a venue for the First Tee program and a gift to the people of Knoxville is a model for what should happen in every community in our country.

In recognition of this splendid asset, and it's contribution to the young people of Knoxville, those Board members (there were 8 of us) who played the Wee Course voted to make a DRS Foundation contribution to the Williams Creek First Tee of $1,000. It would indeed be my hope that some of our members who played there on Sunday might make their own personal contributions to this great program as well. 

On Monday, we crossed the highway from the extraordinary Cherokee Golf Club clubhouse where we had had a phenomenal dinner the night before and discovered another jewel. Long denigrated as a minuscule awkward course, out of date and in need of repair, the parkland layout at Cherokee squeezed between the highway and the railroad line has been masterfully restored by Ron Pritchard.

A brilliant solution to limited space is the incorporation of six par three holes into the intricate layout. Cart paths are remarkably tucked out of play and despite the snug fit of puzzle pieces, one never felt crowded or in danger from adjacent fairways. Each of the par threes asked for different clubs, and some of the par fours felt like part of a much bigger golf course.

Splendid stuff, and grand kudos to John Stiles for a truly wonderful three days.

Thanks to The Ross Society members who attended our Annual Meeting in Knoxville, Tennessee, and for Holston Hills Country Club's hospitality in hosting us.

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