Lee Sayre retired after 30 years at the helm of Mountaineer Golf Center. Sayre

BOONE — Just before his 75th birthday, Lee Sayre decided the time had come for his retirement after 30 years as the resident pro at the Mountaineer Golf Center.

While his retirement from the range does not mean a retirement from the sport, Sayre admitted that he is no longer the same golfer that won numerous tournaments and trophies.

“My body is not cooperating, so that’s a part of it for sure,” Sayre said, adding that keeping up with the younger employees is not as easy as it was 30 years ago.

In his younger years, Sayre “grew up” on the course at the legendary Miami Springs, but it did not take long for him to start traveling.

“Come the winter, all the tourists come down so they cut off all of your golf privileges and I said, ‘wait a minute, why am I working at a golf course I can’t play?’” Sayre said. “I started traveling. Atlanta, California — I was a surfer dude too — and then I went to Hawaii for a year and worked at a resort there.”

In his life, Sayre has played some of the most well-known courses across the country, from Pebble Beach to TPC Sawgrass. In the early 70s, he even played a round with American sports icons Bill Russell and Jim Brown.

“Of course I choked,” Sayre said with a laugh. “I was so nervous, I didn’t play very well.”

After selling his sports car and surfboard, Sayre headed back to Florida and became a golf pro. When the course he worked at was bought by a businessman from Chicago, Sayre said he would teach him how to run a course.

Sayre said he wasn’t thrilled with the relationship and how the course was being run, and decided to follow other pros’ examples and look at some spots up north.

“I’d seen all these pros come up north and play golf all winter,” Sayre said. “I said, ‘that’s what I want to do, I want to find some place where it snows in the winter like New York or Michigan.’”

Sayre stumbled upon Boone, which fit his plans even if it did not work out how he expected.

“Mountains of North Carolina I thought ‘that’d be nice, I’ll go up there for a season and then I’ll find a real job,’” Sayre said. “That was 30 years ago and here I am, I found my niche.”

He said that he fell in love with the area along with the teaching and club fitting aspect, at which he is a certified master.

“I’m a master club fitter — the first one up here in Boone really,” Sayre said. “I understood how much equipment makes a difference. You can go anywhere and they’ll show you a set of golf clubs, but finding the right one for you is really important.”

Sayre added that retired or not, the love of the game — and teaching it — will never go away.

“It’s a game of a lifetime,” Sayre said. “I’ll keep playing for right now. My game is nowhere where it used to be, so I just go out and have some fun.”

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.