Cooke likes to give credit where credit is due. “James and Willie were my main supporters, my ‘go to guys’,” he reveals. “If I had concerns or questions, they would help me figure it out or find the answers for me. They were fixtures around here and I miss them both.”
The 18-hole course was designed by Jeffrey Timmons and Associates of Richmond and Cooke could not be happier with the final outcome. “Our course was designed ahead of its time for this region and we have been able to keep it that way,” he declared. From the leased golf carts rotating every four to five years to the high-tech computer system installed in 2007, Hobbs Hole is one of the finest courses in the area. They were even voted “Best Local Golf Course in the Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck” in 2008, 2009 and 2010 by readers of Northern Neck News, Westmoreland News and Northumberland Echo.
Cooke commented, “Curtis Harmon installed the irrigation and elevations and did a fantastic job.” Hobbs Hole owns all of its own mechanical equipment, tractors, lawn mowers, etc. and Cooke states, “Gary LaFleur is one of the best when it comes to keeping the course in tip top shape. He really knows how to make it all work and look superior.” LaFleur is the course’s Certified Golf Course Superintendent and handles this large responsibility in stride, Cooke added. And when it comes to head golf professionals, Cooke cannot praise Troy Thorne enough. “Troy is the greatest and has done a fantastic job here at Hobbs Hole. His dedication is phenomenal and I couldn’t ask for anyone better to be front and center at the course. He is knowledgeable in all aspects of the game, courteous and professional. He, along with all our employees, show true Southern hospitality to all our guests,” Cooke proudly admits. Hobbs Hole Restaurant is currently being leased by Paul and Garnett Copeland and is doing well. Cooke states, “Paul and Garnett are doing a great job over there and are a huge asset to the course and the community. They are able to accommodate our golfers for lunch and dinner, which is a big plus, along with people in the community who don’t play golf. Their daily specials offer some delicious dishes that you just can’t get anywhere around here. We complement them just as much as they complement us. It’s a win-win situation.” The two have teamed up for a new social event, the “Nine and Dine” is now offered on the first Friday of each month. For a set price, pairs can play nine holes of golf before dark and head over to the restaurant afterwards for dinner. “There has been a nice turnout for this,” says Cooke.
When you think of top-of-the-line golf courses, Hobbs Hole is right up there with some of the best in the state. They boast a state-of-the-art computer system which can also be used by clients to book their tee time online 24 hours a day. The Hobbs Hole Golf Association offers onsite usage of the USGA (United States Golfer’s Association) handicap system. There is an AED, an Automated External Defibrillator, located in the pro shop in case someone suffers a heart attack on the premises. The 80-cart golf cart shop features a handicap golf cart. This intelligent cart allows a person to drive right up to the green and swivel the seat to the side so that they can swing their club, without ever getting out of the cart. Golfers are also allowed to put covers on their carts and use heaters to warm them up in the wintertime which makes their play much more comfortable. Since they are open until dusk, the beautiful bermuda grass driving range and large bent grass putting greens provide an exceptional place to warm up before your round or to practice after your round. Also feel free to play only 9 holes instead of 18 if you do not have the time or stamina. In addition, a rarity on many courses, Hobbs Hole has installed five sets of tees for beginners to advanced players that are color coded, which levels the playing field for everyone.
The course is host to approximately 25–30 golf tournaments per year, which benefit groups such as Tappahannock-Essex Volunteer Fire Department, Richmond-Westmoreland Counties Habitat for Humanity and Relay for Life. There is even a nighttime golf tournament. Hobbs Hole also donates the course to several local schools which offer golf as a fall sport. Essex High School golf team (coached by Golf Pro Troy Thorne and his father, Jim Thorne), St. Margaret’s School golf team, and middle school programs, Tappahannock Intermediate School and Aylett Country Day School all hold home matches here. Hobbs Hole’s own Golf Pro, Troy Thorne, is a huge advocate for promoting junior golfers. “I always tell them, while baseball and football will only last through high school and college, golf will last your lifetime,” he said. To give proof to that statement, Thorne says there is a 92-year-old golfer and another in his late 80s that play just about every week during warm weather. Thorne says, “We definitely cater to seniors, they make up about 60% of our client base. We have even installed a Senior set of tees and are receiving great feedback about them.”
Troy Thorne grew up on golf courses and seemed to have a passion from a very young age. At 33, he has played golf his entire life. He first became employed at Hobbs Hole in 1997, during summer break from college while attending Old Dominion University (ODU). After graduating with a Marketing degree in 1999, he moved home to Richmond County and joined his father in the family business. That fall he interviewed for the position of Head Professional at Hobbs Hole and has been there ever since. Two years ago Thorne started earning his Professional Golfer’s Association (PGA) card which is a five- to six-year program and once completed will earn him a degree in Golf Course Management. He and his wife Heather live in Warsaw with their two sons, Reed, 10, and Lucas, 8.
Thorne was eager to implement a Junior’s Clinic at Hobbs Hole. Held in July, for ages 5–17, it gets youngsters interested in playing golf and allows high school players to advance their skill level during the off season. He also offers lessons to the public and club members year round. Thorne welcomes people of any age, gender and ability level. “I’m always anxious to help people improve their game. I am eager to watch their progress and improvement—that is why I love my job,” Thorne admits. He was also enthusiastic about the state-of-the-art computer system installed a few years ago. Hobbs Hole now has a large database for email marketing and other specialty programs. They now have a Customer Loyalty Program which offers an in-house cash incentive to be used towards game play, apparel or equipment in their pro shop and also allows individuals to book their tee times online. Along with a Birthday Program which, once signed up, will give individuals a free round of golf during their birthday week. “These are just a few of the things we like to do to ‘give back’ to our patrons and show our appreciation for their continued support,” Thorne stated.
“Our golfers also have the option of using our USGA handicap System. This is a nationally recognized system and the handicap configuration is a must for golfers who intend to play in tournaments. They just input their scores and the USGA system figures their handicap and keeps it current year-round,” he says. He also mentions Hobbs Hole’s Pro Shop. “We carry a full line of equipment, clothing, and other golfing accessories. Our Pro Shop consists of items from all the leading golf manufacturers. You can find all of the necessary equipment for a day of golf, or an entire season no matter what your tastes,” said Thorne. “I’m excited and blessed to be a part the cutting edge of golf course technology in our area and to be able to offer those services to our patrons,” he added.
Thorne closed by acknowledging, “Each year Hobbs Hole Golf Course strives to improve it’s condition. The owners of Hobbs Hole believe in putting money back into the course. While surrounding golf courses are cutting maintenance budgets, we are here to improve and the past sweltering summers offer proof. Our greens remained in top shape all year, even during the drought. Please join our Hobbs Hole family and rest assured that you will get the best value in golf the region has to offer.”
Hobbs Hole Golf Course is located at 1267 Hobbs Hole Drive in Tappahannock, behind Wal-Mart. Visit their website at www.hobbshole.com for information, tournaments and to book a tee time, call 804-443-4500 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hobbs Hole is open to the public year around. Annual memberships are available in several categories with added perks, but not necessary. Owners Billy and Betty Anne Cooke and their sons Keith and Kent Cooke along with all of the employees look forward to making your golfing experience at Hobbs Hole as rewarding as possible.