Tomac Woods Golf Course-an era of golfing ends in Albion


Contributing Writer
September 23, 2021

According to golfers, employees, and families playing golf at the Tomac Woods just outside of the city of Albion was more than spending time playing a game. Playing there was spending time with family. Generations of area golfers learned the game or perfected it on that course. Many of them said that players of all skill levels could enjoy the game at Tomac Woods because no one judged each other’s skill level. They played for the love of the game.

Playing there was spending time with family.  They played for the love of the game.

The 18-hole Tomac Woods Golf Course was established in 1964 and remained in the family until they recently sold it to a solar farm company. A meandering creek, woods, mid-19th century stone walls, and wetlands all were a part of the charm and challenge of the course.

Jeanne Manley and her husband Dave Kennedy enjoy their last day of hosting guests at Tomac Woods Golf Course in Albion. Their hope is people will keep their fond memories of the course and continue to play the game.

The decision was gut-wrenching for Jeanne Manley and her husband, Dave Kennedy. “My mom and dad and I built the golf course with a lot of help,” Manley said. She and her husband are at retirement age, and they knew it was time to sell. Since there were no buyers to continue operating the golf course, they sold to a company that will be a part of the largest system of solar farms built in Michigan.

But their beautiful memories can’t be sold. Kennedy shared what memories he will hold of the course. “The friendliness of the people that we have met through the years. It’s been very cordial and very nice. I was, and am still trying to be a golf player,” he said with a straight face. When asked if he married his wife for her golf course, he chuckled, “Probably.” Manley thinks golf kept them together and said smiling, “Some days were better than others.”

When asked if he married his wife for her golf course, he chuckled, “Probably.” Manley thinks golf kept them together and said smiling, “Some days were better than others.”

Their grandson, Harrison Chapman, plays for Marshall High School and learned how to play at the golf course. His mother and grandfather taught him how to play on the green. “I won the club championship out here this year. So that was pretty special, and I have worked out here for a pretty long time. I started by picking up all the pencils and keys out of the carts. It was pretty fun, and I learned how to work a cash register,” he said.

Alex Harris, Albion, finished his last day of play at Tomac and is about to head into the golf shop to pick up some final souvenirs.

In talking with the golfers on the last day of play, several said they learned the game on the wooded 18-Hole course. Alex Harris, Albion, has played at Tomac Woods since 2010. He currently owns and operates Smart Strength and Conditioning, LLC and shared that Tomac has been a part of his life. “Tomac was one of the places where I started to learn the game and really get into it seriously. At that time, I was just a college kid, and so it was a stress relief from football in school. It was a good place to go on our day off and play with the buddies. But now my life is different, now I am a business owner, and it is still a stress relief. I played a lot since then, and I care about the game a whole lot more.” His best memory brings him back to a scramble with the football team in his junior year. “I chipped in on hole 17 to win the match, and I was playing the other quarterback, and it was some competition. That was good, and I also had some dates out here, so that was good too.”

Steve Caldwell Tomac Woods
Steve Caldwell rushed from his job in Battle Creek a couple of hours before dusk so he could play one more time at Tomas with his friend Matt Goodrich, “It’s a great course and we’re gonna hate to see it close-up,” Caldwell said.

The final day for Manley was filled with selling off both golf and club items, operating the course and saying good-bye to people that felt more like family than players. “It’s just been a lovely day of old friends and family coming by and old employees that worked for me years ago that have come by to say hello and good-bye and maybe write down a memory that they may have of the golf course. A lot of people are obviously very sad, as are we. It’s all about the people that have been through here all these years.”

Manley said what kept them going was the players. “How wonderful they’ve been and how much enjoyment we have brought to their lives being able to play here. Two, three, four generations have played here over the years. So, it has been an emotional time for a lot of people.”

Manley said their proudest accomplishment is “bringing a lot of young people into the game.” They tried to create a comfortable atmosphere where people could bring their families and judging by the hundred or more people who rushed to play their last game at Tomac Woods Golf Course Saturday and the previous days, they succeeded.

Tomac Woods Last Golf Player
One Tomac Woods golf player is enjoying the game in the final couple hours of the operation of the 57-year-old green.

Photos by Sylvia Benavidez except as noted.  Photos and story copyright, The Recorder.

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