A Life Lived: Tommy Horton was a winner on and off the golf course

Published 1:10 pm Tuesday, April 2, 2024

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One of America’s most beloved golfers is credited with saying: “Success in this game depends less on strength of body than strength of mind and character.”

There’s no doubt that Tommy Horton would agree. Horton worked as a golf professional at the Elizabethton Golf Course for 25 years and followed that with an additional 20 years at the Mountain Glen Golf Course in Newland, N.C. Horton would be the first to tell you that golf is more than just a game. It teaches you life lessons like no other sport – honesty, cooperation, humility, hard work, silence, learning to accept the uncontrollable, and staying focused – but, it’s also fun.

Horton had a great impact on numerous young men who worked for him at the golf courses. He shared more than the love of the game with his workers, he also shared life lessons. Barry Hinkle was one of those young men who worked for Horton. He shared on the funeral home tribute page that Tommy was his first boss. He worked in the Pro Shop at the Elizabethton Golf Course, and noted that he learned alot from Horton’s leadership.

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Another writer on the tribute page, Tony Rowen, shared that at the age of ten he became a caddie at the Elizabethton Golf Course. “Tommy’s influence on me over the next 10 years was so great that I wanted to become a PGA Golf Professional. My PGA career is now in its 45th year and I still teach and play the game that Tommy taught me.”

Horton died March 23 at the age of 85. During his years as a golfing pro, he made numerous friends both on and off the golf course. Many in Elizabethton, who did not play golf, remember his faithfulness to First United Methodist Church, of which he was a long-time member. He had served as church treasurer, a member of the Administrative Council, and was a member of the Pairs and Spares Sunday School Class.

Both he and his wife, the late Diane Henderson Horton, were faithful members of First United Methodist.

Horton was a graduate of Memphis State University, where he attended on a golf scholarship. He had also served in the Army National Guard.

He and his wife were the parents of a daughter, Margaret “Meg” Brown of Elizabethton, who noted that some of her most memorable times were vacations at the beach every summer. “He enjoyed his family and friends. He led a very active life and was attracted to people. He had slowed down the past year, but he continued to live alone and do his own thing,” said Meg.

In addition to playing golf, Horton enjoyed U-T sports. “He watched all their basketball and football games. He also watched a lot of golf,” shared Meg.

“He gave a lot to golf. It in turn blessed him with a lot of friendships, and he was able to mentor many young people,” Megan shared. “Golf was more than a game to him, it was a way of helping others.”

If it’s worth anything, you might want to move on the street Horton lived on….he was 85 years old, and his next-door neighbor was Virginia Laws, who is 105 years old. Between them, they have a lot of memories and fun times.

Horton’s family and friends celebrated his life March 30 at First United Methodist Church.

It’s been said that golf is a puzzle without an answer. But, we do know that Tommy Horton had the answer to the game of life – play it just like you do the game of golf: be honest, humble, stay focused, and have God as a partner.