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Fox directs golf as well as he plays.

IT MIGHT FIGURE THAT THE man running a typical state amateur golf organization would be a desk guy, a regular office type and maybe weekend hack at best. Maybe he might approach par on occasion. But not in Arkansas.

Jay Fox, who is in his 19th year as the executive director of the Arkansas State Golf Association, can control the ball on the course as well as any amateur in the state. He's got three ASGA Player of the Year trophies to prove it.

Now closing in on 50, Fox has relinquished the top spot to the likes of younger guys Wes McNulty and Chris Jenkins, to name two of the state's top players these days. But Fox is still there in the chase at many tourneys, including one of his favorites, the War Memorial Park Fourth of July Tournament.

Fox, a Bald Knob native, was a standout basketball player as a teenager and his overall athletic ability has served him well on the course as a big hitter through the years, and he carries an 0.1 handicap (it once was a low as pills 2.4).

Fox took a few minutes recently to talk about his job with the ASGA.

AS360: For a guy who we know loves golf as much as you do, you must have your dream job.

Fox: If there ever was a dream job for me, this is obviously it. I had to kind of be talked into applying for it when Monk [Wade] retired in 1990. I didn't think it was the job for me because I had seen how little golf Monk played. Over the years--this is my 19th year, and I'd definitely have to say if there ever was a job made for Jay Fox, this is it and hopefully my board continues to feel the same way.

AS360: What does the executive director's job entail?

Fox: I manage the staff out of the office out here at Eagle Hill [Golf Club, in Little Rock]. I administer the policies and procedures as set forth from time to time by the [ASGA] Board of Directors. We have a volunteer board of 24 people from around the state who meet quarterly ... they tell me what to do and part of that administration is overseeing the 24 championships that we administer, to Arkansas Golfer magazines that we put out, the statewide golf calendar, the 16,000 members that we have get handicap indexes. We measure and rate golf courses. It just seems to go on and on and on.

AS360: Do you personally rate the state's courses?

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Fox: Our office does. The USGA course ratings are handled by our director of handicapping, Mac Stubbs. We have volunteers, three men's ratings teams and two women's ratings teams, and they're from different parts or the state and they're all trained by USGA people--we're having a ratings seminar on April 21 to kind of get our people up to speed, so to speak. But these people are volunteers, they work solely for expenses and we could not do what we do without them. We have a number of wonderful volunteers that are kind of the backbone of the association.

AS360: But, no doubt you get to play some nice courses from time to time.

Fox: I do certainty get invited occasionally, from a PGA golf professional or a director of golf or something, where I get to play ... I have gotten to play some nice courses over the years. That is a definite yes.

AS360: In your position, you've also had opportunity to meet some of the great names in golf, right?

Fox: I would say that's true. Not too long ago I happened to have dinner with Rees Jones, who has become known as the "Open Doctor" for his work with the USGA the last few years. He helped redesign Torrey Pines, of course, before Tiger [Woods] won the U.S. Open there last year.

I've been friends with John Daly for a long time before he had any success on the PGA Tour. And I've known Ken Duke since he was 12 years old, and Bryce Molder and some of the others around here who are starting to have some success out there. So, yeah, I've gotten to rub elbows with some of the best. The day I got to play Augusta National about 6 or 7 years ago, Jack Nicklaus was on the range. I got to shake Jack's hand and rub elbows with him. So I have been around some pretty good people.

We started the state Golf Halt of Fame in 1994. I got to spend some time with Byron Nelson when he was here [for his induction]. I got to spend some time around Jack Stephens when Jack went in. That was still by far the largest number of people we've ever had [at an induction], a little more than 700 people were there the night that Jack got inducted and he told some great Augusta National stories, some I had never heard before.

AS360: How did you happen to be in Wichita, Kan., the day Stan Lee won the U.S. Senior Amateur in 2007?

Fox: Stan reached the finals on a day we didn't have anything going on as far as a tournament here. When he got to the finals, about 6 o'clock the night before Mac Stubbs and I loaded up in his vehicle and we drove pretty much all night and got to Wichita in the wee hours of the morning. We were some of the first people Stan saw in the parking lot. We were sort of trying to come in incognito and not let him know we were there. We pulled in about the same time he did and the first thing he said was, "What are you two rednecks doing?"

AS360: You mentioned knowing Ken Duke for some time. Will you be attending the Masters when he plays Augusta for the first time?

Fox: As a matter of fact, I have some practice round tickets for Tuesday and Wednesday. We're hoping--I say we, I'm meeting a good friend, Steve Fate, who runs the New Jersey State Golf Association, he does the same thing I do--we're going to get into Georgia on Monday, play some golf that afternoon and then go to the practice rounds on Tuesday and Wednesday and specifically hang out with Ken during the practice-round days. While we're there, hopefully we'll come up with a ticket for Thursday and Friday. I promised Ken a long time ago that if and when he ever got to the Masters that I was going to do my best to be there, so I'm going to be there.

AS360: How's your game these days?

Fox: My golf game so far this year is pretty nonexistent. I've played some golf but not the magnitude of golf that I want to play this year as it gets warmer and dries out some. I'm going to play a few of the [ASGA] designated tournaments this year again and the Mid-Senior. I don't think I can quite have the success I had last year but I'm going to be out there trying to compete

AS360: If you had only once course you could play, what would it be?

Fox: Based on my experience, it would have to be Augusta National. I got to play kind of a round and a half with Frank Broytes and John David [Lindsey] and Lyndy Lindsey, about seven years ago now, and Augusta is so special because we get to see it in the Masters every year ... I've never played Pebble Beach so I can't compare, but right now Augusta would be at the top of the list.

AS300: What would be your dream foursome?

Fox: It would have to include my father [Norris Fox], who got me started in the game. And this is going to seem odd but I think one of those guys would have to be Ken Duke, because he and I had a nice chase through the amateur ranks through the years. And a fourth would be the guy I consider the greatest player of all time, Jack Nicklaus.

AS360: Finish this sentence, "You've got the best seat in the house because ..."

Fox: I've got the best seat in the house because I'm lucky to be surrounded by a talented staff and a terrific group of men and women on the board who I work for and allow me to do this job every day.
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Title Annotation:BEST SEAT IN THE HOUSE: Jay Fox
Author:Harris, Jim
Publication:Arkansas Business
Article Type:Interview
Date:Apr 6, 2009
Words:1427
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