Kahite golf pro following a dream

Lucas Forstrom recently joined the Tellico Village Golf Department and will serve as the assistant golf professional at The Links at Kahite.

Ever since he was at a young age, Lucas Forstrom has always held a golf club and dreamt of becoming a golf professional one day.

He recently saw that lifelong dream become reality after being named the new assistant golf professional at The Links at Kahite several weeks ago.

Forstrom previously served as the golf professional at Concord Park Golf Course and was ready to make the jump to a larger operation.

“I might’ve picked it up when I was real little, but my first golfing memory is there used to be a driving range between Lenoir City on the way to Oak Ridge and I remember being super little and swinging my brother’s plastic clubs and hitting a real ball,” Forstrom said. “From there, I grew up as a member at Oak Ridge Country Club at a young age and played at Oak Ridge High School. It’s funny because we actually grew up across the cul-de-sac from Scott Stallings, a PGA Tour player and would play street hockey out there with him. It’s kind of a small world that we all kind of grew up playing there, and that’s where things definitely took off.”

Forstrom graduated from the University of Tennessee in 2013 and 2016 with his bachelor’s and master’s, respectively, in sports management. From there, he went onto work with the Tennessee Golf Foundation and Tennessee Section Professional Golf Association.

During that time, Forstrom formed relationships with Chris Sykes, Tellico Village director of golf operations, and Casey Flenniken, Tanasi golf professional.

“I’ve known Chris for a long while and I’ve known Casey Flenniken for a good long time dating back to when Casey was back at Oak Ridge, and I’ve been out here for various events,” Forstrom said. “Obviously, all three golf courses are awesome but I think the only reason I would’ve left where I was would be to come work with a team like we have here with Sykes, Casey and more of the guys I’m getting to know now. Between all three golf courses, we’re turning the most rounds of any facility in the state all the time. It’s every day, 12 months out of the year and that actually really interested me.”

Sykes credited Forstrom for hitting the ground running since starting the job Aug. 1.

The Village golf department has worked overtime due to the exponential growth of the game, and Forstrom is a welcomed hand.

“We’ve had record growth obviously because business was up 25% last year and this year it’s up about another 10%, so it’s up about 35% over where we’ve been historically,” Sykes said. “We’ve needed additional service staff and obviously an additional manager for the golf operations team, so we were kind of under the radar looking for an assistant golf professional and the stars aligned. I had a prior relationship with Lucas and would cross paths from time to time ... and it’s been a little bit slower of a transition than we would’ve hoped, but we feel very fortunate to get somebody on board with his credentials, qualifications and experience.”

Forstrom will be responsible for maintaining day-to-day operations at Kahite, providing lessons, organizing tournaments and assisting with various projects around the course and Village alongside Kahite head golf professional Jeff Harrington.

“One of the things I like about being here in Tellico Village is the ambition of everybody, and you see that how out here with them doing this bunker renovation project,” Forstrom said. “There’s very clear goals for where we want this golf course to go, and of course being able to host state level events on the amateur side, on the professional side and the junior side. We want to take the golf course to that level, which is going to be a lot of work for us here managing those events and managing that level as this golf course grows in stature. That’s our goal here and to just continue to advance golf here further into the 21st century.”

Sykes believes Forstrom brings a fresh, innovative mind to the table and will be a valuable asset for the golf department for years to come.

“We can have a legitimate professional with his eyes on the operation all the time,” Sykes said. “Our day-to-day will be improved, and he’s going to participate in some of our league programs, our junior programs. His home office will be in Kahite, but he’ll still spend time at all three facilities and be heavily involved in golf. He’s already had an impact.”