Clarence Riley Blankenship, "Buck"
(1906 - 1987)
Died: at age 91
When he was a teenager, his father, a sharecropper, moved his family from Kentucky to California in search of work. Being a "farm boy," Buck landed a job on the grounds crew at the exclusive Hillcrest Country Club in Beverly Hills and spent the next 21 years working there, eventually becoming the course superintendent.
Buck was in California when the Depression hit and his family whitewashed a chicken coop on a chicken farm in the San Fernando Valley and used it as its residence.
Even though he had a good job in California, Buck always talked to his family about moving back to Kentucky and that's what he did in 1944. He bought a small farm outside of Hustonville with $7,000 in savings, then, a few years later, sold it for $14,000 and bought the 110 acres (along with a wheat drill) in Mercer County for $16,500. That 110 acres is today Bright Leaf Golf Resort.
Blankenship learned to love golf courses in California. Love of the land and farming brought him back to Kentucky. He was a busy man. In addition to farming, he found time to design and build golf courses. In 1963, he decided to build one for himself. After all, he had the land. Blankenship designed and developed Bright Leaf. He first built a nine-hole regulation course and a lighted nine-hole, par-three course on that farm he bought in Mercer County for $16,500.
Blankenship, is a member of the Kentucky Golf Hall of Fame. He designed dozens of courses, including Kentucky courses at Fort Knox, Owen County, Casey County, Frankfort, Nicholasville, Georgetown, LaGrange, Ashland, Lexington, Taylorsville and Versailles. Many of the golf courses were built partially because of a federal program that allocated money to small towns without golf courses.