published Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

Who golfs? 'Catfish' Klassen

Jerry "Catfish" Klassen

Ranger, Harrison

Somebody with the nickname of "Catfish" must have at least one story to tell.

Jerry Klassen is full of them from his days playing softball and working for DuPont and recently from spending half of his days as a ranger and manning other duties at the Bear Trace at Harrison Bay.

Still, how'd he get the nickname "Catfish"?

"I was playing league softball and they wanted me to sign a contract, but I wanted to look at other options of where I could play," Klassen said. "It was about the time Jim 'Catfish' Hunter [a Hall of Fame pitcher] was going through arbitration. So somebody said, 'Oh, so you're pulling a 'Catfish.'

"And oh, buddy, did it stick."

Klassen couldn't fully settle into retirement, so he asked if he could work one day a week at Bear Trace so he could play free golf, but he'd pay cart fees. The job quickly turned into two or three days per week.

Then he fell in love -- with the course.

"Now I've been here seven years," said Klassen, who almost always wears some garment proclaiming his love for the Tennessee Volunteers. "I don't think there's a better layout or a better place to be with the animals and the birds anywhere around here."

He began playing golf in 1968 -- "maybe '69," he said -- and had a membership at Creeks Bend. He scored the only hole-in-one of his life at No. 10 there in 1984.

"It cost me $37 in beer," he joked. "That'd be like $200 now."

But he has a priceless nickname.

about David Uchiyama...

David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...

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