If you are not familiar with Crooked Creek Golf Course, a 50-year institution near downtown Hendersonville, think of the theme song from the popular 1980s sitcom “Cheers.”

“Where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.”

Long-time owner Marc Gooden, who has been associated with the course for 46 years, sums it up perfectly: “It is a friendly place to play golf.”

Crooked Creek is like a comfortable recliner or that special woman greeting you at the door after a long day – a nice, soft place to land.

An 18-hole layout that has an interesting mixture of relatively flat holes and some with varying degrees of elevation, Crooked Creek is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

As part of that celebration, the course will host a two-day, two-man best ball tournament June 23-24. The cost is $130 per player and there will be food and drink galore in addition to the competition.

The course designed by Alex Guion and Stewart Gooden – Marc’s uncle – opened in 1968. A few years later Marc Gooden began leasing the course and took ownership in 1984.

“It’s been 46 years,” said Gooden. “We’ve been able to see the course evolve so much over the years.

With a $5,500 loan, Gooden set out to improve on what was pretty rudimentary layout.

“We didn’t have any golf carts or equipment, no cart paths, no irrigation, one set of tees,” he said.

“So we got to work, and it’s grown into something pretty nice. We converted our fairways to Bermuda (grass) a few years ago and that’s made a big difference in our conditions.”

Tommy Laughter has been general manager at Crooked Creek for 24 years, and it’s like home to him.

“It’s just a local spot for people to come play golf,” he said. “People that come through our doors are mostly golfers who have been coming for years, and it’s like family.

“We’re looking forward to the tournament. It’s going to be a good time and a way to celebrate our anniversary. This has been a great place to grow up and grow relationships that you will have all your life.”

“There’s just not a lot of public golf courses around, and we’ve tried to enhance it over the years,” said Gooden.

“The location is really good and it’s a beautiful piece of property. We feel like we are a part of this community and want to always keep it that way.”

Foy Levi of Hendersonville enjoys his frequent visits to play Crooked Creek.

“It’s a great place to play golf,” he said. “It’s always in great shape, and the guys in the gang (about 30 to 40 strong) are fun to play with. Everybody here is friends, and I really like that.

“It has a good variety of holes, and what you see is what you get. You can play it all the way back and it’s a long course, or you can play a set of tees that suits your game.”

Following the anniversary tournament in June, of course there will be the Apple Jack, played every September for nearly 50 years, a tournament that celebrates Hendersonville’s Apple Festival.

Places like Crooked Creek produce loyalty and a sense of wanting to stick around – Gooden for 46 years, Laughter for about a quarter-century.

“It’s a very special place for me,” said Laughter. “It’s more than a job; every day it is family.”

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