To give up something precious, something meaningful for the benefit of another is inherently against human nature. That’s hard enough. Even for those whom one cares most deeply, it’s extremely difficult to set aside their own desires and dreams for the sake of that person.
But what if that other person is a total stranger?
Every soldier in the United States Armed Forces is ready and willing to sacrifice everything for those they haven’t even met. While many fight for their families, what they do preserves the freedom of everyone in this country. When one of them lays down their life in the line of duty, no one should be without thanks.
Yet most won’t even know their names, let alone who they are or what they’ve done for us. Citizens simply go on living their lives, oblivious to the sacrifices soldiers make in order for them to do so.
Harry Nix aims to change that, though.
Having purchased the Hillcrest Country Club on the outskirts of Montpelier, Nix has already changed the name of its golf course to Patriot Hills. His plan is to dedicate each hole to a fallen veteran, with each flag containing a brief biography on each one.
A veteran himself, Nix joined the Marine Corps in the twilight of the Vietnam War. Hoping to become a pilot, the end of the war left him to become a Marine Corps Engineer instead. Eventually, he ended up in North Carolina, where he joined the National Guard, also as an engineer. He retired in 1996.
Until 2001, “When the buildings fell.” according to Nix. Requesting to be reinstated in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11th, he spent another year in the service of his country working in Afghanistan.
Aside from his sterling military career, Nix also spent more than 33 years working for the state police.
For the last 17 years, he’s been a detective in Steuben County of Indiana. As retirement drew near, an opportunity presented itself.
“Somebody told me (Hillcrest) was being auctioned off.” Nix recalled.
Retiring on June 10th, Nix had actually already bought and begun work on the course a month prior.
Work might be an understatement, actually. Two years after being foreclosed, Nix has been renovating the course himself. A strenuous task in its own right, one obstacle has stuck out for him.
“Getting the greens back.” Nix named his biggest challenge. “They’re coming back real slow.”
This is likely because Nix insists on them doing so naturally, without the use of chemicals.
After a Summer’s worth of hard, careful labor, Nix is finally ready to open Patriot Hill’s front nine holes to the public, with the back nine ideally being ready next June. He’ll be holding a Meet and Greet opening on Sunday, August 24th, with visitors being able to play the finished holes for free.
“Come play the course on us.” Nix invited.
The holes aren’t dedicated quite yet, however. Nix intends to have local veterans honored at each hole.
“I’d like to get as many veterans from around here as possible.” Nix stated, adding, “Every time you play golf, they’ll be remembered.”
Not being from the area, Nix will speak with area American Legion Posts for names and background information.
There are two holes that won’t be set for local veterans, though. Nix will dedicate a hole to Pat Tillman, the former NFL player who gave up his career to fight in Afghanistan, where he was killed by
friendly fire. He’ll also use a hole to honor Mike Green, a close friend who died in an ambush IED attack in December of 2007.
The goal of Patriot Hills will go beyond the noble endeavor of honoring veterans. Nix also wants to reach out to community youths. He’s encouraging schools to bring their teams to practice on the course, and is planning on offering golf lessons next year. Not only will this encourage more business in the future, but Nix hopes that the “etiquette of golf” will help to teach kids proper manners as well.
It only makes sense for Nix to think that way, as golf has been a part of his life for a long time.
Working as a greens keeper at the Lake James Golf Course from 1968-72, before joining the Marines.
He also had a hand in restructuring the course as soon as he left.
Now Nix has his own golf course, and setting his own terms. Those wishing to sign up for membership to Hillcrest Country Club and access to Patriot Hills can pay $500 for a 2015 membership, which falls in line with the course’s Grand Opening next Spring. That price also includes the rest of 2014 for free and will hold for at least one more year.
Being in a position to set those prices, and decide when a Grand Opening will take place, has been a long time coming for Nix.
“It’s been a dream of mine to own my own golf course.”
After sacrificing so much for everyone else, he’s certainly earned the opportunity to pursue one of his dreams for a change.