Local Golf: Hill comes home as pro at Corbin Hills
By Ronnie Gallagher
SALISBURY — At the age of four, Jay Hill received his first golf clubs from Jerry Barger.
Forty-three years later, Barger has given Hill something even better: the chance to be the golf pro at the course he grew up playing.
Hill took over as the new pro at Corbin Hills a couple of weeks ago. It’s a dream come true.
“I don’t know very many guys in our industry who get to be a club professional at a course where they grew up playing,” Hill said. “It’s always been a dream to get back home. I get to reconnect with old friends and be with my family.”
Hill remembers following his uncle to Corbin Hills as a kid. While Barger gave him his first clubs, Ed Welch gave him his first lessons. Hill was instantly hooked.
“I was a big Ed Welch fan,” Hill smiled. “I knew if I wanted to work, I wanted to be in golf.”
Hill’s family moved from Salisbury when he was 13 but he never forgot what he learned here. He eventually played at Campbell University before becoming a pro at other North Carolina courses — 13 years at Crooked Creek in Fuquay Varina and two at Walnut Creek in Goldsboro to name two. When Walnut Creek had money issues and got rid of three positions, including his, he came home to Salisbury.
Hill was teaching at Rick Murphy’s Golf Academy in Greensboro when Corbin Hills owner Barger and general manager Tim Gardner approached him with an offer to be the pro.
“It was a stroke of luck,” Hill said. “I appreciate the opportunity to come home and work with Jerry and Tim.”
Speaking of strokes, Hill still has the magic when he swings a club. The first time he played Corbin Hills in 20 years, he fired a 65.
“It was a little different than the way I remembered it,” Hill said. “It’s a great test of golf for any skill level.”
Corbin Hills’ new pro is in his element when he has a club in his hand.
“I love to compete,” said Hill, who has won nine Carolinas PGA sectional events during his career.
His main focus now is to reach several goals for Corbin Hills. He’ll teach, run the pro shop, be in charge of merchandising and organize events. But he also wants to promote the junior program.
“Bringing in kids is strengthening that part of our program,” he said. “One of the first things I saw was how many kids in middle school were playing golf. I see what Salisbury High School has going on. I hope the residents realize how fortunate we are to have this kind of talent — not just with the kids but the ladies and adults.”
Hill said fun is the name of the game at Corbin Hills.
“We want to focus on our customers feeling welcome,” he said.
And when the customers hit the course?
“It’s as good as I’ve seen it coming out of the hot months,” Hill said. “It’s a credit to how hard Tim and his staff are working.”
Hill wears the look of a content man, especially when Barger joined the conversation.
“Jerry got me into liking golf as a kid,” Hill said. “Now, he has given me a chance to come back home and be a part of his team.”
In Hill’s world, a Dream Team.