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Looking back on 2005, looking ahead to 2006

Has anyone else taken a moment to reflect on 2005 and wonder where a whole year went?

Talk about a blur

Seems like yesterday that Tennessee was getting ready to thump Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl.

It certainly doesn't feel as if 50 weeks have come and gone. Look around: The buzz about UT men's basketball no longer involves a Peterson; three of Phillip Fulmer's assistant coaches are no longer on the staff, either.

What changes could be in store for 2006?

Could the Indianapolis Colts win the first Super Bowl of the Peyton Manning era, possibly at the expense of his brother, Eli? Will the Tennessee Titans cut ties with Steve McNair and draft Vanderbilt quarterback Jay Cutler? Could a woman actually qualify for the Masters golf tournament? Will Ted Turner swing a deal to buy back his beloved Atlanta Braves from Time Warner? Could a woman actually win the Indy 500?

On the local prediction front, this much appears likely: The City of Knoxville is going to get back into the golf business, at least temporarily.

While officials have been understandably mum while Parks & Recreation director Sam Anderson had heart surgery and then lost a brother to a fatal heart attack, big changes are on the horizon for Whittle Springs Golf Course. In what could qualify as one of the most laughable municipal contracts of modern times, the city has leased the historic public course since the mid-1980s for $1 a year to HMS Golf Management of Augusta, Ga.

Yes, one dollar a year.

Can you imagine getting Willow Creek developer Bryan Testerman or general manager Bill Roach Sr. to agree to that at one of the best daily-fee facilities in the state? Go knock on Joe Parker's door at Dead Horse Lake and see if he would hand the keys to someone for a dollar a year.

A dollar hardly buys a golf ball, much less an entire course for an entire year.

While there's an undercurrent of silence about the change at Whittle Springs, it apparently could be as early as Jan. 1 or as late as March 1. It's also not clear whether proposals will be sought to manage a relatively short, par-70 layout that has played host to the Knoxville Men's City championship since the 1930s.

While several updates will be required for various reasons, a meeting room at the City & County Building could be filled with folks that are willing to help revive it.

A likely scenario could involve a partnership with the Wee Course at Williams Creek, where Doug Amor is the pro and Andrea Bakalyar is the superintendent. The demanding 18-hole, par-3 junior course near downtown has been a bigger hit with adults than youngsters. There could be ample staff -- and equipment -- to improve course conditions a few miles away.

Knox County leases Three Ridges Golf Course to Premier Golf, which manages 16 courses nationally and has expressed an interest in expanding its local base.

At least two Knoxville groups would like to be part of this process, too. Others are waiting in the wings.

The plot will thicken next year, when the lease expires at Knoxville Golf Course off Schaad Road.

Maybe by then Peyton Manning will be talking about winning another Super Bowl and perhaps a woman will have finished first in the Indy 500. There's a realistic chance that golf on the other side of town might get up to speed, too.

Award-winning columnist Chuck Cavalaris writes a bi-monthly column for farragutpress. Send questions or comments to He can also be reached at 865-769-9295.


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