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Sardis students learn history from local legend
Golf great Tommy Aaron teaches about Hall Countys past
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Masters Tournament winner Tommy Aaron talks with Sardis Enrichment School students as they visited Chattahoochee Golf Course on Wednesday to hear about local history.

The morning gloom had given way to sunshine as local golf legend Tommy Aaron stepped onto the green Wednesday.

Surrounding the golfer were about 30 elementary school children, who silently watched as he demonstrated a 14-foot putt.

"It broke a little bit to the right, did you see that?" he asked, after a light swing.

The kids nodded and several hands shot in the air to question Aaron about wind speed and golf scoring.

The field trip to Chatahoochee Golf Course was part of a new class at Sardis Enrichment School to teach fourth- and fifth-graders about Hall County history.

Before Aaron won the Masters Tournament in 1973, he grew up in Gainesville and spent his summers at a small, nine-hole golf course near Gainesville High School.

The course was later submerged by flood waters after Lake Lanier was created in the 1950s.

"I have nothing but fond memories of playing that old course," Aaron said.

Aaron gave a vivid account of the history of golf in the area, which he said wasn't especially popular when he was young. Some considered it to be elitist, he said.

"Very few people played the sport," he said. "People in town thought it was a frivolous thing for me to do. They said I may as well bag groceries, I'd be more productive."

After the original golf course was flooded, the city was without a course for about five years, he said.

Aaron practiced his golf game at a baseball diamond at New Holland Mill or traveled to courses outside of town.

Aaron told the children televised golf tournaments and famous athletes, such as Tiger Woods, created a fresh interest in the game in more recent years.

Many of the children told Aaron they have been to a golf course in the past.

As they sprawled out on a grassy hill near the course, Aaron showed the kids photos of professional golfer Jack Nicklaus awarding him the green Masters jacket.

He also invited fifth-grader Karia Jackson to try a putt after his lesson. Jackson mimicked his technique but used a little too much power in her swing.

"It takes a lot of focus. I tapped it once and it went really far," she said.

Sardis teacher Terri Crumley said she hopes the children will remember some of the lessons Aaron shared, such as his belief that golf involves integrity, honesty, respect and sportsmanship.

She adds that she has lined up meetings with other famous people in Hall County for her class.

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