Written by Bob Fraim, Long Time Fox Den Member & Historian
Fox Den Country Club is the result of one golfer’s enthusiasm for the game of golf and his desire to build one of America’s finest golf courses in the East Tennessee area. That person was Chester A. Massey, Insurance Executive of Knoxville.
After several years of extensive travel devoted to both meticulous review and research of country club planning and management and visitation to dozens of prime properties, Chester identified and chose acreage west of Knoxville for his golf course and planned residential community. From this area originally known as Concord, Tennessee, came the town of Farragut some 12 years later on January 16, 1980.
The Fox Den Bugle, official communication for Fox Den Country Club, issued its Volume 1, Number 1 issue in May 1968. That issue covered many of the highlights of what was to become one of the finest golf courses and country clubs, not only in the state of Tennessee and in the south, but also in America. The Board of Directors met initially on September 1, 1968.
The Bugle notes that famed golf course superintendent Willard Byrd and Associates cleared the land for the creation of the golf course. Credit was given to Mr. Byrd for construction of many of America’s finest golf courses, including Willow Creek in Boca Raton, Florida, McGregor Downs, Ledo Key, The Country Club of North Carolina, and other courses in the Hilton Head, South Carolina area.
Mr. Byrd was quoted as being extremely enthusiastic about his new project, stating “Fox Den is without a doubt one of the most beautiful pieces of land I’ve ever worked on. It has everything—rolling hills, beautiful wooded areas, and long fairway stretches, all located in front of the magnificent backdrop of the Great Smokies. Each of the 18 holes will have four large sets of tees. From the back tee, the course will measure 7,000 yards and have a course rating of 73.6, highest in the state. It will be one of the most exacting and exciting 18 holes in America. However, from the red and white tees, the course will be an enjoyable challenge even for the beginner.”
With the start of construction of the golf course, the old Oliver Kermit Everett farmhouse was remodeled and used as the first Clubhouse and Pro Shop on March 1, 1969. Our second Clubhouse (current Fitness Center) was opened to members on May 21, 1971, adjacent to the present tennis facilities.
On March 1, 1969, the club hired its first golf professional, Mickey Bessignano of Rumford, Rhode Island. Our first nine holes, opened for play on May 15, 1969, were seeded with windsor blue fairways and pencross greens. The first hole played was our 9th hole as we know it today. The nine holes were completed by playing our present 8th hole where there was a huge barn used as our original equipment storage area. The original purpose of this barn was as the largest breeding facility for mules in Tennessee.
The lower level of the new Clubhouse opened for business on Friday, June 9, 1995, and full services were provided Friday, June 16, 1995. In the early 2000’s, the interior of the former clubhouse was remodeled and outfitted as the Fox Den Fitness Center, an auxiliary facility to the new main Clubhouse.Fox Den’s Board of Directors announced on Thursday, December 16, 1994, that after 23 years of occupying the smaller Clubhouse, they selected Ferry-Hayes Designers, Inc. of Atlanta for the interior design and Michael Brady, Inc. of Knoxville as the architects of the new 34,000 square-foot Clubhouse we occupy today. Johnson & Galyon were selected as the general contractors. The full Fox Den Country Club membership voted approval of the $4,000,000 extended construction project. It was never in Chester Massey’s plans for Fox Den to have elaborate facilities for its members other than those provided through golf, tennis, swimming, and horseback riding. The horseback riding never happened due to success of home building around all 18 holes of golf. In 1978 the pool complex was relocated from the old Clubhouse, now the Fitness Center, to its current location.