TOP PHOTO: Bobby Heatherly served as the golf pro at the La Follette Country Club for nearly 40 years. During Heatherly’s 36 years on the hill, sweeping changes took place. Membership maxed out going from 15 members in 1969 to 210 creating a waiting list to join and leaving no room for anyone to pay a green fee and play.
LAFOLLETTE, TN (WLAF) – Former La Follette Country Club golf pro Bobby Heatherly had no idea what he was in for when he stepped into the lobby at WLAF on Thursday morning. He was welcomed like a rock star, and to all those on hand, he truly is a rock star. The occasion that brought a reluctant Heatherly to the radio station was State Rep. Dennis Powers was going to present a proclamation from the state to Heatherly. Though it was the stories and the laughter that stretched the gathering out to nearly two hours.
There are many lives in Campbell County that Heatherly touched, influenced or coached somewhere along the way in particular on the golf course or in a gymnasium. Heatherly served as the pro at the La Follette Country Club and officiated little league, junior high, high school and college basketball for decades.
At the top of the list of those touched are the many friends he made along the way. More than 15 of those friends came out for Heatherly on Thursday morning; Elwood Bailey, George Ellison, Bob Fannon, Kenny Goins, Robbie Heatherly, Warren Heatherly, Dennis Henegar, Joey St. John, Wayne Kitts, Len Pierce, Dennis Powers, Mike Rogers, Joe Snodderly and Josh Vann.
A recurring theme throughout the morning was how Heatherly ate, slept and breathed the La Follette Country Club, and that if there was ever a question of who was in charge, it was without question Heatherly.
“Once I had a suggestion about adding a water hazard, and he quickly told me to keep running my little insurance business, and that he’d run the golf course,” said Dennis Powers.
Same story for George Ellison. “I served as president of the country club and one day said, Bobby, what do you think about this?,” said Ellision. “You run your business, and I’ll run the golf course,” Heatherly shot back.
Bob Fannon turned the tables on Heatherly. Heatherly had been regularly burning trash on the club grounds, and the smoke wasn’t too well received by some of the neighbors. In an effort to help the residents and to poke some fun at Heatherly, Fannon, then on La Follette City Council, had Fire Chief Wayne Gregg, City’s Code Enforcement Officer and the fire marshal to pay Bobby a visit about the burning. Heatherly came to Fannon and told him he knew about his little prank. Fannon told him to run the golf course, and that he’d run the city.
“In its day, our country club was the best around here. He spent all his time working on that golf course, and that’s a real credit to him,” said Ellison.
Heatherly’s son Robbie was first to speak to the group after his father opened the gathering talking for more than a half hour. “My father hasn’t talked that much in 12 years; all told. But I know today means a lot to him seeing all you gentlemen coming by, because he’s touched us all. I didn’t have anybody I talked to about being here that didn’t make it. Whatever you all had planned today, you put it on hold to be here,” said Robbie Heatherly.
Perhaps Heatherly’s closest friend and former high school basketball teammate at La Follette High, Joe Snodderly, spoke saying that he would keep it short and sweet. “Bobby, I’ve got a lot to tell on you buddy, I could write books, but I won’t. You’re like a brother to me,” said Snodderly. He became a tad emotional as he handed to mic over to Len Pierce.
“Bobby is La Follette Country Club. He is the reason we are all here in this room today,” said Josh Vann, La Follette Country Club General Manager. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 11/11/2022-6AM)