On Saturday, March 24, 2012, Ansley golfers gathered at Settindown to compete in the annual John Hall Memorial Shamble. A beautiful day and a well-conditioned course awaited a field of 100 players, with 25 4-man teams participating in the popular "shamble" format.
Ansley Communications Manager Paige Niewerth sat down with member Richard Perry on Friday morning to talk about John Hall and the tournament that bears his name.
It’s Friday morning and I am able to catch up with Mr. Richard Perry before he tees off for his 9:30 a.m. tee time. Though you can usually count on finding Mr. Perry at the Settindown course, from time-to-time he plays “The Old Lady”, Ansley’s intown course.
Mr. Hall, an Atlanta native, was a World War II pilot and member at East Lake Golf Club before joining Atlanta Country Club. Hall was a large man, and Mr. Perry referred to his hand as the size of a ham. He would always joke with Hall that his hand was so large that he could “pick your pocket with a sand wedge.”
“John always had a dream of building a golf course,” Mr. Perry said. Perry mentions that one Wednesday evening John, Tom W. Wheeler Jr. and he envisioned a golf course and were ready to engage in a plan. Hall and Wheeler found land in Forsyth County, but it was Cherokee County land they later secured to build on.
John Hall spent countless hours drawing out what is now the Settindown course in his basement. Hall eventually turned over his plans to renowned golf architect Bob Cupp to do some tweaking. Foreseeing a links style course, and coming to the realization that there was no ocean, Hall and Cupp compromised on the heathland style golf course. Settindown was ready for play in 1988, and Hall’s dream of acquiring 18 founders for Settindown, one for each hole, prospered.
“Ansley Golf Club ‘One Hell of a Good Club’’”, by David Swann, mentions that Settindown was originally established as “a gentlemen’s club devoted strictly to golf.” It wasn’t until 1992 that Settindown established a clubhouse. Hall and Perry both sat on the board for a number of years and were heavily involved in the Settindown management at the time. The men diligently played golf twice a week, every Wednesday and Saturday. When not playing, they spent their evenings playing bridge, poker, gin and backgammon.
When I asked Mr. Perry how Mr. Hall’s golf game was, he didn’t hesitate to express how he was a good golfer, especially a good putter. Perry mentioned, however, that as you age you don’t putt as well, and over the years Hall grew to dislike his short game. With a laugh, Perry stated, “When John did make it, he would shout ‘It’s in the leather. Hallelujah!’ and would go on to sing the song in its entirety.”
Survived by his wife Margaret and two children, Mr. Hall passed away in the mid-1990’s. This tournament is played in honor of a man who brought into existence this “scruffy” course, as Mr. Furman Bisher, famed Georgia sports writer who passed away last Sunday, once described Settindown.
The tournament has been around for roughly 15 years and Mr. Perry has played in most all of them, and is in attendance today.