Callahan Golf Links, a 1000-acre property in Cherokee County that used to be a family cattle farm, has blossomed into a beautiful 18-hole golf course thanks to part-owner, Kevin Callahan.
This family farm has a storied history going back before the Civil War. During the 1800’s, the original settlers of the farm were the Carpenter family, who are related to father Matt Callahan on his mother’s side. Farming, dairy cattle and saw milling were the primary sources of income for the farm. During the Civil War, General Sherman’s troops passed in close enough proximity to the farm that livestock had to be hidden in distant woods and in steep terrain to prevent their slaughter by the Union army soldiers. During and after World War II, the farm was converted to pasture for the raising of cattle. In the late 1990’s, the Callahan family was faced with a decision that would determine the future of the property. Their choices were to collect timber which takes years and years to develop; continue raising cattle and poultry but face the sporadic fluctuation of beef and chicken prices; or to sell the family property to real estate developers. After much deliberation, the Callahan family decided to honor the family land and utilize the beautiful scenery to make what we know now as Callahan’s Golf Links.
Kevin Callahan had no idea he would eventually be in charge of a great course like Callahan’s. Kevin attended Auburn University and majored in business management. After graduation, he moved to Canton where he worked in the heating and air business. Having a basic knowledge in management from his degree at Auburn University he felt like he should be doing more with his career. Kevin wanted to be a part of something bigger. Growing up, Kevin played golf as a hobby. Kevin said “I never even thought of connecting my hobby with my degree”. His father Matt obviously saw potential in him to help run the golf course and this is where Kevin put his management skills to the test.
It’s actually more difficult to run a golf course than many people know. According to Callahan, “there are several aspects to running a business like this. You have the property and greens management, the range, the carts, the clubhouse, and the irrigation. There is just a lot that goes into this business.” Although this seems like a lot to handle, Kevin Callahan explains how he manages to maintain such a nice looking golf course. “It’s easy to keep up good work when you see people enjoying your work.”
A unique aspect of Callahan’s golf course is that it is a “links” golf course. Developed in Scotland, a links golf course is the oldest kind of golf course. The word comes from the Scots language and refers to an area of coastal sand dunes, and also sometimes to open parkland. Though most of the links courses are found in Ireland and the United Kingdom, the Callahan farm land’s natural beauty and varied terrain provided the ideal setting for a tremendous golf course layout.
In addition to its unique course layout, Kevin Callahan feels that there are other unique features of the Callahan Golf Links. One of those features is the friendly atmosphere. “There are many things that bring people to Callahan’s. The most important being the atmosphere” says Kameron Williams, a regular at Callahan’s.
There are a number of challenges to maintaining a thriving golf course. The greens and fairway management plays a huge role in the success of a golf course. Callahan states that course management is the most important piece to the puzzle. He explains, “the best equipment and nicest club house won’t do you any good without a well-managed fairway.” Justin Osborne, the assistant golf coach of Reinhardt University agrees, “this course is great for our players, it presents different challenges every day that we have to adapt to, whether it be the conditions or the hole placements, it keeps you guessing.”
Since opening in 2008, and the business continues to flourish. They offer an extensive and affordable membership program, a fully-stocked pro shop, a practice facility that includes putting and chipping areas as well as a driving range. The clubhouse is equipped with a bar and grill surrounding by natural settings, an important feature according to Kevin Callahan, “when you are not out on the course, it’s a great place to unwind with your favorite beverage and enjoy golf on our 50″ flat screen TV.
Owning and operating the golf course is a dream come true for Callahan. Not only is he able to work on a beautiful property that has been a part of his family since the 1870’s, but to be able to work with family every day is a bonus. “Taking a hobby like golf and my management degree from Auburn suited me well, and to be able to put that together almost doesn’t seem like a job anymore.”