Freddy Cook Jr. was only allotted a shade more than 29 years on this earth. He crammed more living into those 29 years, however, than most who survive for more than the standard three score and ten. Golf was a passion for Freddy for more than half of his life and, in recognition of his accomplishments at that sport, a name card reading ’Freddy Cook, Jr. – Permanent Member’ has been placed on the table reserved for members of the 2014 class of the Fannin County Sports Hall of Fame.
Freddy Cook Jr. was born and raised in Epworth, Georgia. His parents are Janet and Freddy Cook Sr. and his two older sisters are Amanda Herendon and Tricia Deal. His immediate family also consists of his 8-year old daughter, Annabelle, who lives in Murphy NC. Like Freddy, Annabelle is described by the family as “outgoing, adventurous and FEARLESS! No two people could butt heads like Freddy and Annabelle. But she was the Love of his Life.”
Freddy’s first love, sports-wise, was baseball. He was a hard-throwing sidearm pitcher of some distinction. He played for some very good teams including the 9 and 10 year old Fannin County All-Stars who won the District 5 baseball tournament in Adairsville to advance to the state tournament in that age bracket. Freddy’s pitching career ended prematurely when he suffered an arm injury that resulted in tendonitis.
With his baseball career a thing of the past, Freddy and some of his buddies started playing golf in the spring and summer of 1998. Freddy turned 14 in August of 1998 and entered Fannin County High School soon thereafter.
Freddy was a skilled golfer almost from the moment he first picked up a club. Tom Turner, a familiar figure on the Basin Golf Course for more than 40 years says that Freddy was “a natural”. Freddy made his first hole-in-one after only two months of taking up the game. Freddy just got better and better and lowered his handicap to 0 by 2002. He made the Fannin County High School golf team as a freshman in 1998-99 and earned four varsity letters during his years there.
In July, 2000 Freddy entered the Copper Basin Golf Club annual tournament at the ripe old age of 15 and won the Championship Flight of the tournament. He went on to win a record 9 club championships over the years, his last victory coming in the 2010 event. His streak was interrupted in 2005, when Freddy’s close friend and mentor David Adkisson took the championship. When asked how he managed to win the tourney, Adkisson replied “Freddy did not play that year”. David and his wife Lisa live next to the Basin golf course and were like family to Freddy almost from the moment that he first appeared on the scene in 1998.
In addition to his domination at the Copper Basin Golf Club, Freddy was also enjoying a very successful high school career. His golfing days FCHS culminated with his performances during his senior season of 2002. Freddy topped of his career when he won the Region 7AAA low medalist championship at Chattahoochee Golf Course in Gainesville, Georgia. After shooting two rounds of 78, Freddy found himself in a two-man playoff. He won the championship on the first extra hole. He received a note from the Region 7AAA Golf Chair in Gainesville who commented that in addition to his play “you conducted yourself with class and dignity. It is a pleasure knowing that a person of your character will be representing our region” at the state tournament.
Freddy was a little off his game at the State Tournament, also played in Gainesville, but still managed to shoot 82 and finish 13th in the field of 97 competitors. He was the first golfer in the history of Fannin County High School to advance to the State Tournament.
Freddy Cook Jr. was a slightly built young man, standing 5’ 11” and tipping the scales at 145 pounds soaking wet. Despite his size, however, he could consistently drive the ball 300+ yards when required to do so. Most who saw him play seem to feel that his short game, especially chipping, was his strong suit. He was a better putter than most but, like the top players, he struggled with that part of his game at times.
Freddy was quick to give credit to others for his successes on the golf course. His coach Greg Chambers, his teammates, his senior mentors such as the Adkissons and Tom Turner, and, most importantly, his family, were very, very instrumental in helping him become one of the best golfers in the history of Fannin County and the Copper Basin.
Freddy turned pro in 2002. He successfully passed the ‘playability’ test at a course in Stone Mountain in 2002 and became a ‘PGA Apprentice’ working at the Whitepath Golf Course in Ellijay, Georgia. He learned a lot there in the areas of tournament hosting, teaching, course and pro shop management and business management under Lonnie Reese, who was the teaching pro at Whitepath.
Freddy loved every aspect of golf. He loved to play but he also loved the other parts of the sport including organizing fund-raising tournaments, such as the Brett Dickey Golf Tournament, the Shriner’s tournaments and the ’Hospice Advantage – Breast Cancer’ tournaments and simply directing the overall activities at a golf course. He played in a few satellite tour events but the financial and time requirements to pursue a playing career are staggering. Freddy was most comfortable with his playing partners and associates at the Copper Basin Golf Club and he returned there as Club Director in 2009.
During his downtime from golf , Freddy owned his own landscaping business and worked at a TVA nuclear power plant. In addition to golf, he loved baseball, NASCAR and he loved his Tennessee Vols! But most of all, he loved his daughter, his family, his high school golf team, his high school coach, and all the wonderful and close friends he had in the community.
In April, 2011 Freddy Cook, Jr. was diagnosed with a rare form of brain and spinal cancer. He had not ‘been himself’ for some time prior to the diagnosis, but the seriousness of the condition caught Freddy and all his loved ones by surprise. He fought a terrific fight but the odds were against him from the beginning. Freddy died on September 18, 2013, just a month after his 29th birthday. He is survived by his parents, his two sisters and his daughter.
Freddy summed up his love for his home course at Copper Basin when said: “Standing on the 8th tee feels so close to God, looking back through the mountains. It’s a feeling like no other!”