Director of Agronomy at the Hound Ears Club
By Bill Hensley
BLOWING ROCK—Getting a teenaged boy to mow grass and tend to the lawn would be a difficult task, but those chores came easy for Allen Storie who is the new Director of Agronomy at the Hound Ears Club.
When he was 15 and in high school, Storie took a summer job working on the golf course maintenance staff at the Grandfather Golf and Country Club. During his tenure he learned how to grow grass, mow it, keep it free from weeds and diseases and to lay sod. He also learned how to drive a tractor, rake sand bunkers, paint benches and ball washers, use a weedeater, and a few other pertinent activities.
“I never thought that type of work would interest me,” he said, “but I learned to love it. I couldn’t wait to get to work each morning. By the end of the summer, I had decided to make agronomy my career.”
After graduating from Cloudland High School where he played football, the Cranberry native enrolled at Catawba Valley Community College and graduated two years later ranked first in his class. He received a degree in Applied Science and Turf Grass Management.
While he was in college, Storie worked as an intern on the maintenance staff at the Rock Barn golf course in Conover and assisted in the construction of the Jones course. “That was great training,” he remarked, “and strengthened my desire to become a golf course superintendent.”
After receiving his degree, Storie joined the Elk River Club staff as an assistant in training under Monty Melton. He stayed for three years before accepting a position as assistant superintendent at the Grandfather Club, where he worked for five years.
In 2008, Storie, 29, was named assistant to John Tester at Hound Ears. When the veteran Tester retired recently after 37 years of service, Storie was promoted to the top job.
“Replacing someone like John Tester is a challenge,” he pointed out. “He is legendary in the industry and leaves big shoes to fill. He had an outstanding turf grass program established, and I look forward to continuing his fine work.”
As the Director of Agronomy, a title that is synonymous with golf course superintendent, Storie is in direct charge of the 135-acre golf course and the grounds of the prestigious club just off Highway 105 at Shulls Mill Road.
During the season from mid-April until the end of October, he works long hours overseeing a staff of 16. “I’m on the job by six o’clock every morning,” he explained, “and go home in the late afternoon, depending on what needs to be done.”
In addition, Storie has a wide variety of equipment to operate and maintain, including 40 mowers, tractors, carts, trucks, weed eaters and backhoes. “There is always something to do in this business, and I like that,” he commented. “And I also like working outdoors and not being confined to a desk.”
When he is not on the golf course, Storie has a variety of interests to keep him busy. First, there is Finn, a seven-months old son to help his wife, Teresa, raise and enjoy. He is also an active church soloist, a tenor, who sings frequently at area churches, weddings and funerals. His specialty is gospel hymns. Finally, he is an avid dog breeder and trainer.
“I am a very enthusiastic hunter—deer, bears, turkeys and coons,” he smiled, “and enjoy that very much. I guess that’s the mountain boy in me.”
“But with all my interests, my work comes first,” he continued. “You can’t imagine the pride in seeing your golf course be acclaimed for its great condition. In a sense, I feel like I’m an artist trying to create the perfect outdoor picture.”
Don E. Vance, the Hound Ears Club’s Chief Operating Officer and General Manager, said, “We are fortunate to have someone with Allen’s talent and experience. He brings a required professionalism to the job that will enable him to enhance and continue our fine tradition for excellence.”
After seeing that 30 acres of fairways have been mowed three times a week, and that 18 greens and 72 tees have been cut and manicured, does the maintenance man ever want to play the game?
“I’m not a very good player,” he admitted, “but I enjoy the game. My best score is in the mid-80s. My job is to see that our members and guests have a well-conditioned course.”
And that they do…thanks to a gospel-singing, coon-hunting young man with many talents.
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