He deserves it. But to be honest, the world of golf will be a little bit less fun with the impending retirement of Ken Mangum, the director of golf courses and grounds at the Atlanta Athletic Club.
Mangum was the guy who got the courses ready for competition and there are few in the nation who can do it better. In his 26 years at the Athletic Club, he helped host five major championships (including the 2014 U.S. Amateur Championship) and oversaw six major renovation projects. He lobbied for — and got the club to go along with — the transformation of the greens to Champions bermuda. And, perhaps least known by most, he designed and built the club’s par 3 course that remains a favorite among the members and their children. He will retire effective May 31, 2015.
And while Mangum is truly one of the best at at craft — he was inducted in the Georgia Golf Course Superintendent’s Hall of Fame in 2014 and will enter the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame in 2015 — he’s above all a good, decent and honest man.
As far as the media is concerned, Ken has always been a willing and accommodating source of information, a good spokesman for a part of the sport that usually only draws attention when something goes wrong. The superintendent is like the long snapper in football; no one knows his name until he launches the ball over the head of the punter. Not many people pay attention to the superintendent until the greens start to die.
Mangum was part of the Big Three at the Athletic Club, joining general manager Chris Borders and director of golf Rick Anderson. The trio formed a tight bond, all having arrived about the same time. It isn’t often you see three key players on the same page with the same frequency as those guys. There was something there that just clicked. Now another part of that is moving on. Borders retired two springs ago and has since been inducted into the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame. Mangum has decided to call it quits on May 31, not long after his induction into the Georgia Hall.
So Ken Mangum will ride off on his golf cart after 40 years in the business. He’s planning to spend time with his wife, Pam, as a world-traveler, part-time fisherman and occasional golfer. The only grass he’ll be worried about is that in his own front yard.