Mid Am Crisis ft. Mark Stewart – Owner, Tobacco Road Golf Club

The 13th hole at Tobacco Road Golf Club

Mark Stewart once had a crazy idea to build a golf course on his family’s old sand pit. Turns out it was a pretty good idea. Tobacco Road Golf Club has been wowing guests for over 20 years now and Stewart is still at the helm of the operation. When the project began in 1998, he took a chance on an up and coming golf architect named Mike Strantz. There was no way to know how impactful that decision would become. Today, Mike Strantz courses have a cult following and Tobacco Road is widely considered his masterpiece. Stewart has always liked taking risks and he’s still at working to make his dream course an even better place for people to have an unforgettable golf experience.

Stewart and I first met a few years ago when I was doing some reporting for the Golfer’s Journal on how Tobacco Road came to be. We’ve stayed in touch since the story came out and have become good friends. He keeps a close eye on trends in the golf industry and we often talk about how things are going at his course and here at my home track in Tallahassee. Now, as the COVID19 golf boom reaches the one year mark, I wanted to catch up with Stewart to see how things were going and what he is doing at Tobacco Road to seize on these generational golf business opportunities.

During our discussion, we talked about the impacts to golf travel, the surge in new players, and what strategies the Tobacco Road team has pursued to capture new business. We also dove into some of Stewart’s memories from the early days and working with Mike Strantz. I’m always impressed with how much he emphasizes the preservation of Strantz’s work there and we spoke on that as well. There is also a fun segment where we dive into Stewart’s favorite movie franchise – The Fast and the Furious. You will get a kick out of that.

It’s always a treat to talk to Mark Stewart and this episode was a blast to record. I’m headed up to Tobacco Road again soon and look forward to seeing that great place again with a new batch of friends. If you haven’t been yet…I highly recommend you go.

To learn more about Tobacco Road Golf Club, Mike Strantz, and all the great ways to experience the course please visit https://tobaccoroadgolf.com/

Thanks as always for listening to Mid-Am Crisis. The show is brought to you by my friends at Imagine Golf – the #1 app for the mental game. Download Imagine Golf today and start your journey to an improved way of thinking on and off the course. https://www.imaginegolf.com/

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Cheers,

-J

Mid-Am Crisis is a production of Revell Media, LLC

Golf is Everywhere – Tobacco Road

I fell in love with quite a few places in 2019, but nowhere has left as deep an impression on my golfing soul as Tobacco Road Golf Club. I spent the better part of six months working on a special project for The Golfer’s Journal in which we documented the history of this remarkable place. That story appeared in issue #10 of The Golfer’s Journal and included a companion podcast(see  below) featuring recordings of Tobacco Road’s designer, the late great Mike Strantz. While I was visiting the course for my story, I took a lot of video, but didn’t want to share it until after the piece had published in the magazine. Now that the story has been out in the world for a few weeks, I thought it would be great to share the video as part of my Golf is Everywhere series on Youtube.

I can’t think of a better way to close out 2019, then to share my video essay from Tobacco Road. The course, its designer, and certainly its owners and staff have had a huge impact on me and my writing career this year. That being said, I’m happy to share this latest video. Give it a watch when you can and if you haven’t had a chance to subscribe to my Youtube channel, I hope you will!

Cheers,

-J

Golf is Everywhere – Tobacco Road

The Golfer’s Journal Podcast – The Lost Strantz Tapes

 

 

Happy Trails Forrest Fezler

Forrest Fezler has passed away, but his impact on golf and on me will be felt for many years to come. I was fortunate to get to know Forrest in recent years and after a few meetings he agreed to let me tell his story. Forrest was a world class player, a risk taking entrepreneur, talented golf designer, and all around good guy. He lived a life in golf that was always played slightly out of bounds. Like his best friend and partner Mike Strantz, he was a maverick until the end.

I first met Forrest when I was President at Capital City Country Club in Tallahassee, Florida. Forrest had taken a liking to Capital City in his final years and we talked him into building a few bunkers for us. I had long known the highlights of his life story but I was curious to know more. We scheduled a lunch that turned into a long afternoon conversation about his career. That conversation led to another lunch and even more conversations about golf.

I asked Forrest if he would mind me writing his story and he agreed. Through a few months of chats and texts I got a great sense for who he was. The story became a narrative about his life, the life of Mike Strantz, and how the fates brought them together to build some of the most interesting new courses in golf. Together they made Maverick Golf Design one of the most cutting edge firms in the game.

I spent a couple of months building out their story and I couldn’t wait to share it with Forrest. The day I sent him the final draft was the day he told me about his tumor. I remember sinking in my chair when I read his message. I could tell it was a bad diagnosis from his tone.

Forrest was struggling to read the story due to the effects from the tumor, but he trusted me to go ahead and release it. I published the story and it quickly became the most read piece I had ever written. A few days later I got a text from Forrest. He had finally gotten through the story and he let me know what it meant to him.

This is what he sent me:

“It has brought tears in my eyes all night.

Especially reflecting on this new chapter in my life. Your kind words are more healing now than you will ever know or appreciate

That means the world to me.

Thanks for being there when I needed it so.

Forrest”

I’ll never forget that text and I’ll never forget my talks with Forrest.

I’m so glad that I got know his story. I found Forrest to be a humble man with many talents and someone who clearly loved everything about golf. He was a champion in the sport but he will likely be best remembered by friends as someone who championed them and the game many of us adore.

If you’d like to learn more about Forrest Fezler, his life, and career you can check out the story here.

The Maverick Lives On

Happy trails Fez. Golf will surely miss you.

-J