En Joie Golf Club lives up to its reputation

ENDICOTT Any golf course that has hosted a professional tournament for four decades does not need a boost in publicity. For us, though, playing En Joie Golf Club was an opportunity to play one of the premier 18-hole facilities in the Southern Tier.

Yes, neighboring public courses such as Conklin Players Club and the Links at Hiawatha Landing have built stellar reputations as marquee venues, but each falls a little short in the luster department.

Rick Ferris and I made our sixth tour of area courses earlier this week, and we were joined by En Joie assistant pro and 2007 Norwich High School graduate Ryan Evans.

Evans, who has worked as a PGA Class B professional in an apprentice role the past few years, earned his Class A PGA card on July 1 passing the last of the rigorous tests administered by the PGA.

In his second year with En Joie, Evans, now living in Greene, has no immediate plans to abandon En Joie or the area, although he could now easily step into a head pro position in the South or the West.

"I get a lot of questions about going down South, but I would just be another one of the 10,000 guys already down there," Evans said. "I'm very happy where I am right now. One of my biggest goals is to see golf in this area grow. It would be great if I can be one of the guys to start that."

When we stepped to the first tee, the intention was to assess a well-known golf course, and pick the brain of a guy Evans who would know all of the ins and outs. Turns out Evans' path to this point in his career made for an interesting subplot.

The former Purple Tornado linkster didn't pick up the game until he was 14 years old. He was a freshman player under retired NHS golf coach Bob Branham, and honed his fundamentals over four years on the golf team, while also developing into a gentleman golfer with a solid foundation in course etiquette.

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