mcj-2021-06-16-news-river-birch-partnership

River Birch Golf Club Director of Golf Kehli Bowen, left, and owner Andy Willingham stand next to a flag commemorating a partnership between the course and True Temper for a new testing site for the shaft manufacturer.

AMORY – River Birch Golf Club will soon be the second True Temper consumer cross-branded test site for golf club shafts in the nation following a new partnership sparked between the course and the corporate level of the local manufacturer.

True Temper is one of Amory’s bigger employers.

“A member got us connected to one of their engineers out of Memphis with the idea that they’re a stone’s throw from our clubhouse and what it might look like to work with them. I’ve got some corporate sponsorship opportunities for the year that I’ve been looking into doing, and sponsoring the ranges is one of them. We got into the conversation not about what they could do for us but more so how can we work together as two businesses in the community,” said Kehli Bowen, River Birch director of golf.

True Temper’s other consumer testing facility is in Carlsbad, California.

“I’m super excited about it. As long as this golf course has been here and True Temper has been in our backyard, I get this guy in here and within a year and a half, he’s making it happen – that’s awesome,” said Andy Willingham, who purchased the course with his wife, Kathy, in 2019.

By sponsoring the range, True Temper will offer new range balls and improve the aesthetics of the range, in addition to using it as a testing site. Bowen anticipates for improvements to be finalized in the next six months.

“We’ll see what we can do to get some new bodies into Amory and inject some new commerce into town and at the same time get their hands on some shafts they may not have seen or can’t get access to as a regular consumer,” Bowen said. “It’s all about giving your average golfer an experience they can’t get anywhere else. I’d like to reach pretty wide with it. We have the hotel in town and option of a tour of the plant, so it would be a stay and play option.”

Willingham agrees the more out of town golfers who participate, the more it will help the local economy and in turn generate more money back into the course.

“Membership has climbed significantly since I took over, and we’re putting everything back into the course. We got a new mini-excavator, we got new greens covers, we did a big drainage project on #8 green back in the fall. I think that’s going to make that green way better this summer. Our current customers are definitely seeing a difference in course conditions and projects we’ve been trying to get done to make the golf course better,” he said.

The Amory Rotary Club will sponsor a June 26 two-man scramble benefiting the Quality Education Fund at River Birch. There will be an 8 a.m. shotgun start, and people may register online at www.riverbirchgolfclub.com or at the pro shop.

The $60 entry fee per person includes one mulligan, lunch and drawings.

River Birch is also hosting more youth golf clinics, which Willingham said is important for the game of golf.

“I think that’s something True Temper is interested in as well because these kids that could be junior customers are going to buy True Temper shafts. Everybody who is in the golf industry, I think, is excited about getting youth in the game,” he said.

Bowen said most people know golf club brands such as Titleist, Callaway and Ping but don’t realize True Temper makes the shafts.

“Being able to see the variety of shafts…most people think, ‘Oh, it’s an S300 or an S400,’ they don’t realize there’s any number of shafts that kind of piggyback off the traditional ones we saw 20 years ago. Being able to get those in their hands changes it a little bit,” he said, adding testing the shafts will optimize players’ performance.

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