Village names new golf director

Chris Sykes, right, receives the 2018 Tennessee Golf Association Four-Ball Championship award from former Tellico Village director of golf operations Jim West. Sykes was recently named the new director of golf operations following West’s departure.

The Tellico Village Property Owners Association officially appointed Toqua Golf Course superintendent Chris Sykes the new director of golf operations following the departure of Jim West in December.

Sykes previously served more than eight years as the Toqua Golf Course superintendent and worked closely with West.

“I’m excited to be part of a great team to keep moving golf forward,” Sykes said.

He brings nearly 25 years of leadership in sales, business operations and property management. He was a member of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University golf team and worked at The Honor’s Course in Ooltewah after graduation.

Before joining Tellico Village in 2011, Sykes served as senior director of golf for a 1,400-acre resort in Orlando, where he was responsible for planning, development and management of a $9 million golf facility, encompassing golf operations and grounds maintenance with a $10 million operating budget and more than 100 employees.

He also worked at The Honor’s Course in Ooltewah for two years before serving as superintendent at Cherokee Country Club in Knoxville for 13 years.

“I grew up playing competitive golf, went to school to play golf and got my degree in agronomy and have remained involved in the game for a number of years, whether it’s through coaching ... I had a stint as a director of golf in my tenure in Orlando,” Sykes said. “I’ve got experience on a very large scale at that facility that I can make use of and apply with the existing group of folks that are on the team, again, to keep moving golf forward in Tellico Village.”

While at Toqua, Sykes served on the Turf Grass Association Board of Directors for three years and is a recipient of the TGA Environmental Stewardship Award.

“Just there’s tremendous support and a real opportunity to continue to grow the game,” he said. “We’ve done a good job at that, but again, there’s opportunities to continue to build on past accomplishments.”

Adam Jacob, Toqua golf professional, has worked alongside Sykes for several years and is excited for his new opportunity.

“His knowledge and leadership, obviously, his tenure at Toqua as the superintendent, he’s turned that course into one of the top courses in our area,” Jacob said. “Improving every year, you know, little things here and there, and then I think that will translate to the golf department and the rest of golf in general at Tellico.”

Jacob believes Sykes’ experience will prove beneficial in growing the game.

“He’ll help us market golf better at Tellico because he’s done it at a high-end resort area,” Jacob said. “Obviously, they’ve got some different budgets than we have, but we can still work from that and take those tools and ideas that they used and apply it to what we’re doing here at Tellico. We’ll continue to do what we’ve done in previous years and our successful events and programs, grow from that more and see what we can do to bring more ideas to the Village.”

Sykes said the transition will be “a process” and plans to evaluate options moving forward. A Toqua superintendent has not been named.

“We’ve got a list of things that we’re going to play with, nothing that’s all that earth shattering other than just continue to expand our nontraditional programs that were launched last year and place an even greater emphasis on growing the game,” he said. “Again, it’s still going to be a process. We’ve got a lot of great folks on the team, and it’s going to be a gradual restructuring process where we try to make best use of the skills we have in place.”