How many of us wish we could live, work and play golf in the Thousand Islands? James (Jim) Hungerford, who left the River almost forty years ago, can now boast this accomplishment as he has come back to the River as the Director of Golf at the 36-hole Thousand Islands Country Club on Wellesley Island.
For the past 38 years Jim was the Director at the 18-hole “Ontario” course at the Brookwoods Country Club facility in Ontario, New York, near Rochester. He grew up in Clayton, son of James and Helene Hungerford and has always returned for family gatherings on Hungerford Point.
Certainly welcomed back to the River by JoAnn Schwalm, owner of the popular course, and her team at TICC, he is thrilled to be returning to the greens he often played as a youngster.
Jim first started playing golf at age 12 in Clayton. His first game was with Connecticut cousins. “They knew how to play, and they whupped me,” he remembers. “I decided to practice and the next time they came I would do better.” He did. Golf and basketball were his high school sports. In fact, when he completed his undergraduate degree from the University of Houston in Texas, he was offered a job as a basketball coach, contingent on his earning a master’s degree. However in 1972 he got a summer job at the Ontario Club (now Brookwoods), which led to a permanent job.
Giving up basketball became easier as Jim pursued his career and gained his Class A card as a member of the PGA. This designation goes beyond teaching or playing at a course. It includes all the business aspects of golf, including management and marketing; something at which he has excelled.
Golf is just one of the many sports available to visitors to the Thousand Islands, and for those enthusiast, the TI Country Club boasts a fine reputation. Under Jim’s leadership, the club has already secured the 2014 New York State Women’s Senior Amateur Championship and is a prestigious member of the NYS Golf Trail system. The NY Golf Trail was established three years ago. Packaged with two-day hotel stays, the trail has now grown to 21 select courses in seven distinct regions.
The original nine hole course at TICC was built by George Boldt in 1894. It was expanded to 18 holes in 1924 by Seth Raynor. Raynor built over 100 courses. He died at a young age in the 1930s of pneumonia, but is known as the architect who never liked golf! However, he designed many famous courses - the Greenbrier, Fishers Island and the Chicago Golf Club to name a few. Today the TICC Club has 36 holes with the addition of the golfer friendly Lake Course.
In the early 2000s Tom Schwalm and his wife JoAnn purchased the club, which includes two restaurants, two golf courses, 20 villas and a marina. Tom died suddenly in 2009 and the whole Thousand Islands community felt the loss. However, happily for us, JoAnn has carried on and has expressed her pleasure at recruiting Jim back to the River.
“I am certainly enjoying the summer but there have been some setbacks. We lost 17 trees in the storm on Wednesday, June 8 on the road leading to Westminster Park and 9 on our fairways. But we also have had some great initiatives, everything from well attended tournaments to the continued development of the junior program under the leadership of Dustin Walbridge, who is a PGA apprentice.” Jim explained. He went on to sum up, “My wife Sylvia and I are pleased to be returning to the River. Sylvia also grew up in Clayton, my parents are here and the river is in my blood.”
Jim often relates that one of his proudest times in the golfing world was seeing 13 of his staff members go on to careers in the field. The appreciation is mutual. When Jim left the Brookwoods Country Club, the staff and the golfing community gave him a fine send-off. They produced an 11-minute YouTube video, “Hungie Retires” – which certainly pays a fine tribute to a golfing player, teacher, manager and mentor. Without doubt, many will join us in saying their loss is our gain.
Welcome back Jim Hungerford and thanks for keeping the tradition of fine golfing at the Thousand Islands Country Club a reality.
By Susan W. Smith, Editor, TI Life Magazine
Editor’s note: TI Life has a brief overview of Golf in the Thousand Islands under Events. However these pages are being revamped to include more up-to-date information. Jim Hungerford and his TICC team gave me new information that is now posted, including "We are extremely price friendly this year and offer discount coupons at both courses that may be retrieved from our web. In addition, our Twilight Delight rate (after 2 PM) is a fantastic deal - $35pp at the Signature Old Course and $22pp at the Lake Course. Both rates include carts... "