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Eugene F. “Gene” Young

Gene Young

North Carolina has become a mecca for thousands of Golf Croquet players. It has Eugene F. Young to thank for this. Gene’s lengthy service to croquet is highlighted by his terms as President of the US Croquet Association from 2009-2011, and Regional Vice President for the Southeast region from 2003-2008. Additionally, his efforts in promoting Golf Croquet in Lake Toxaway are largely responsible for the recent croquet boom in the mountains of western North Carolina.

Gene was instrumental in making the USCA a more efficient and well-run organization. One of his primary contributions was the innovation of an annual planning meeting that helped the USCA focus on achievable goals. Although the planning meeting first took place while Rich Curtis was President from 2005-2008, the idea and execution were solely due to Gene. As USCA President, he was constantly and tirelessly thinking about how to improve the organization and help it to grow. Gene proved to be an excellent President of the USCA.

Dr. Eugene F. Young was born November 27, 1951, in Shelby, NC, as one of seven children. He graduated from Shelby High School in 1970, the University of North Carolina with a BS in Chemistry/Dentistry in 1973, the UNC School of Dentistry in 1977, and attended the UNC School of Dentistry Department of Restorative Dentistry 1985-1993. He is married to Teri Thornton.

Gene began playing croquet in 2001 and was the USCA “Rookie of the Year” that year. Early on, he jumped right in and devoted many hours to the game. Within a year or two, he was playing at the Championship level. Among early tournament successes, he won the highly regarded USCA Southeast Regional Championship Doubles in 2003 with partner Harold Allison, one of his croquet mentors. He was co-founder of the Toxaway Mountain Challenge in 2010-2011, a golf croquet exhibition coordinated with Toxaway Mallet Club and George and Jane Enochs. He later organized an annual series of these exhibitions featuring the best players from the United States and other countries. Guests from nearby clubs who did not yet have a croquet facility were invited to get a flavor of what croquet could do for their clubs and their members. This has now become an event attended by many players who need a comfortable environment to experience tournament play.

Because of Gene’s collaborative commitment and effort, the North Carolina mountain area within 30 miles of Lake Toxaway now has 11 clubs with active croquet programs, and nearly 1,500 people playing croquet regularly. In addition, Lake Toxaway has provided even greater exposure for the residents in this area by hosting the USCA Golf Croquet National Championship three times, most recently in September 2018. The success of this croquet achievement would not have been possible without Gene Young’s enthusiasm and organizational skills, along with the assistance of many talented and gracious championship players.

Gene brought intensity and dedication to the task of achieving his goals. As VP and then President of the USCA’s North Carolina district, he brought a new level of organization and forward planning to croquet in the State. He took a similar approach on the USCA Management committee, first as Regional VP and then as USCA President.

In recent years, the most remarkable growth in croquet in general, and USCA membership, has been in North Carolina’s western highlands. While this growth has roots going back many years, it was during Gene’s tenure as USCA President that things really took off.

Since leaving the presidency of the USCA, he has concentrated on the promotion of the game of croquet. Gene is currently a member of the USCA Golf Croquet Committee. Golf Croquet has successfully grown “on the mountain” in Highlands, Cashiers and Lake Toxaway, NC, due to the efforts of Gene and the assistance of several other individuals including Jeff Soo, George and Jane Enochs, Bill McClanahan, and Michael Albert. Gene still enjoys playing croquet and giving instruction to players in North Carolina, and occasionally in Arizona.

Gene’s contributions to croquet in the United States are extensive, and have had a significant effect on the stability and growth of our sport. Eugene F. Young will be a welcomed addition to the US Croquet Hall of Fame.

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