As on the first trip, we headed to the far western reaches of Kentucky. Our destination was the small community of Cunningham in Carlisle County to play at Dogwood Hills Golf Course. I would estimate the population of Cunningham as simply NOT MANY. You know you are there when you see the water tower labeled Cunningham Ky. The rural aspect and the fact that Cunningham is such a small community are some of the things that make this story so interesting.
Carlisle County was formed in 1886. It is bordered by Ballard County to the north and Hickman County to the south. The county was named after John Griffin Carlisle, a speaker of the United States House of Representatives.
In many ways, Carlisle County is like a slice out of America’s past. Don’t get me wrong. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Carlisle County is a quiet community. It is an agricultural community. From county line to county line, there are farms as far as the eye can see.
The biggest employer is the school system. The second biggest employer would most likely be Graceland Properties. They finance portable storage buildings across the United States. Other than that, farming is the lifeblood of Carlisle County. You cannot find any chain restaurants in Carlisle or hardly any restaurants period. We ate at Tee’s and Tacos after playing golf. It closed down two days later.
Despite a lack of industry and chain restaurants, there is something much more special that I found in Carlisle County. What I found in Carlisle County is better than any factory or eatery anywhere. I found some of the finest people you could ever meet on planet earth and a jewel of a golf course. You could sense the pride that the people who were associated with the golf course felt.
We started our day by meeting Dana Daugherty in the clubhouse. Shortly afterward, we met her husband, Joey Daugherty. He paired us up with our golfing host Steve Sullivan. Steve was a wonderful guide and easy to play with. He even put up with all of my bad shots without complaining.
I learned much about Dogwood Hills during and after the round from him and Joey. The course was built and opened in 1997. Farmers literally took their tractors, dirt pans and dozers and created a golf course. The course gets its name honestly as the terrain is steep throughout the nine holes.
From atop the 5th tee box, the smoke stack at the Wickliffe paper mill 12 miles away is easily visible. Dogwood trees lace the landscape all around the course.
The course may be the only one in the state of Kentucky to feature mini-verde Bermuda greens. Since most of Kentucky is in a transition zone as far as climate, these greens are special. They are cold tolerant for the winter and drought resistant in the summer.
Now, let me tell you about two special holes on the course. They are both par threes. The second hole is a par three that can be very difficult. The green has a lot of slope and you have to know how to play it. It is easy to putt the ball off of the green if you are above the hole. Then there is the island green on the 150-yard eighth hole. There must have been a lot of work put into making this beautiful golf hole. Some of our group managed to drop a few in the water on this hole (names withheld to protect the guilty). It is a challenging but fair hole. My problem was I got a glance of it on about the sixth hole and it started playing games with my mind ahead of time.
Hopefully, you can sense that we had a great time at Dogwood Hills. I highly recommend you take a day and play this course. The 90-mile drive to get there is worth it. The people are great. The greens fees were very reasonable. It is only around $20 for the cart and green fee, and that is for 18 holes (play the same nine twice with different tees for several of the holes).
I would like to personally thank the Daughertys, Club President Jeff Davis and Steve Sullivan for their hospitality. Also thanks to the Daughertys for making a donation to our cancer research fund from their D and D Turf Management Company.
Our group’s mission was to play golf and raise money for cancer research. We did both and one thing more. We made friends for life. Isn’t life great?!
OT: Travel to Dogwood Hills. Tell them Coach Wright sent you.
Double OT: Luke’s Truck Stop is a long time eatery there that we missed out on. Give it a try.
Enthusiasm Makes the Difference Mike Wright is the head coach of boys basketball and cross country at Trigg County High School. Emails concerning Coach’s Corner can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.