Long journey continues for Summit Chase’s Epps with new golf academy
By John L. Byrwa
David Epps, the longtime head golf professional at Summit Chase Country Club in Snellville, is a lot of things, including but not limited to:
A devoted husband, proud father of two grown sons and doting grandfather to a pair of precious granddaughters.
A smiling friend to anyone who extends his or her hand.
And make no mistake, David Epps is without a doubt a man of his word.
He proved as much nearly 25 years ago when his “big, fat mouth” wrote a check that his legs, feet and sheer will, eventually -- and quite astonishingly -- cashed.
Rewind to 1987.
Summit Chase is one of three private golf clubs in Gwinnett County – Berkeley Hills Country Club in Duluth and Northwood Golf and Country Club in Lawrenceville are the other two -- that compete in the annual Gwinnett Cup, a friendly team event where the 19 best players plus the head professional from each club compete over 18 holes of combined stroke play for a shiny trophy and, most importantly, bragging rights.
(Today, there are four clubs in the Gwinnett Cup, with The Legends at Chateau Elan in Braselton also in the mix.)
We’ll let Epps take it from here.
“We had won it like four years in a row or something and had a real good team,” Epps recalled. “Craig Martin, who was the head pro at Berkeley Hills at the time, well, I told him out there the day of the tournament, ‘Shoot, I tell you what, this is how confident I am in our team. If we don’t win out here today, I’ll walk back to Summit Chase.’”
Yep, you guessed it. Summit Chase did not win. And a week later, Epps made good on his word and walked all the way from Berkeley Hills back to Summit Chase, a winding journey of nearly 20 miles that took him 7 ½ hours to complete.
In the middle of August.
“As soon as I made it back here, I walked straight into the pool, clothes on, shoes on, everything,” laughed Epps as he sat in the Summit Chase clubhouse grill room that overlooks that same pool. “I just walked right through the gate, stood there for a minute and just fell in.
“And I said, ‘I made it.’”
To be sure, Epps has “made it” in more ways than one.
Now the head professional emeritus at Summit Chase, Epps, who retired this past year from his full-time head professional duties after 35 years at the club spread over two stints, has embarked on a new career path that holds a special place in his heart: teaching the game of golf to youngsters.
The David Epps Golf Academy at Summit Chase opens this month, and Epps’ goal not only is to teach the game he loves to youths throughout Gwinnett County, but to help revive a sport that has lagged in popularity in recent years.
“Golf all around the nation is down, according to the National Golf Foundation,” Epps, 66, said. “Golf hasn’t grown to the levels of other sports, like soccer and lacrosse. I mean, pretty much every (high) school has a lacrosse team. It’s kind of my passion to get golf back to a successful level, where it used to be.”
Open to Summit Chase members and the general public, the David Epps Golf Academy will be geared toward junior players, but golfers of all skill levels are encouraged to participate in both group and individual lessons.
“Believe you me, this golf academy is going to be a great thing for young people,” said Summit Chase owner Van Britt, who first hired Epps as his head professional in 1980. “And when it’s good for young people, it’s good for golf.
“Our junior golfers here love David. He goes out and plays with them, he putts on the putting green with them. We’ve been here for 35 years and right now our junior program is better than it’s ever been. David really encourages them and he works with them. It’s just a good thing for junior golf what we have going here at Summit Chase. David is a true Class A golf professional.”
And while Epps is comfortable employing today’s technology, such as video evaluation and the like, his teaching style is a throw-back to a simpler day and simpler method.
“I’m more old school than anything,” Epps said. “I have a camera and a tripod that I can set up and hook it up to the computer screen and all that. But I just like to watch someone and say, ‘This is what you do, this is what I’m seeing you do, and this is what you can do to try and improve.’
“Everybody swings differently.”
What is common throughout all golfers, however, is the desire to improve and make the game more enjoyable. And when he has a hand in helping a student achieve his or her goals, that, more than anything, puts a smile on Epps’ face.
“I like to see students achieve success,” Epps said. “And I really enjoy the kids. If I see even a little improvement, a little success, then I’m satisfied.”
And if a student is not satisfied, Epps will gladly refund his fee.
“I’ve never had to give anybody their money back,” Epps said.
Rest assured, you can take Epps at his word.
Here is schedule for the David Epps Golf Academy:
Junior Golf Camps
Ages 7-9, June 16, 19, 20: 9 AM-10:30 AM
Ages 10-12, June 16, 19, 20: 11:30 AM-1 PM
Ages 13-15, June 14, 20, 21: 1 PM-2:30 PM
Ages 16-17, June 14, 20, 21: 3:30 PM-5 PM
Boys and girls, $125.00 per camp.
Beginner Ladies Golf School
June 10, 17, 24, July 1: 6 PM-7 PM
Advanced Ladies Golf School
July 8, 15, 22, 29: 6 PM-7 PM
Ladies School, $125.00 per person.
Both camps for juniors and ladies are open to the public.
Individual golf lessons with Epps are available to non-Summit Chase members. These lessons are one-hour sessions. The purpose of these lessons is to improve your golf swing, lower your scores and build self-confidence. A series of six one-on-one lessons with Epps is $225.00. (This is the cost of five lessons with the sixth lesson free).
For more information or to sign up for lessons, contact Epps at 770-979-9000 or 404-825-2999.