Law on the links

One of Nashville's more accomplished amateur golfers talks about the game he loves [From the November/December issue of Nashville Post magazine]

Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis attorney Lew Conner is a widely recognized litigation lawyer. The former Tennessee Court of Appeals judge and founder of the Dearborn & Ewing law firm also mediated the 31 cases filed as a result of the National HealthCare Corp. nursing home fire in 2004. He was able to settle 29 of the cases.

Conner is also widely recognized as a standout player and ambassador for the game of golf in Tennessee. A three-year player at Vanderbilt University who has remained a top local amateur golfer and competes in senior events statewide, he is the founder and former chairman of the Tennessee Golf Foundation, a member and former president of the board of directors of the Tennessee Golf Association, and a member of the boards of directors of the American Senior Golf Association and the Southern Golf Association. Not surprisingly, he is also a 2010 inductee into the Tennessee Golf Hall of Fame.

NP: What is your current handicap?

Six.

NP: What’s the lowest it has ever been?

Plus two.

NP: Do you see a correlation between someone with a low handicap and their ability to be successful in business?

The lower the handicap, generally the easier to connect with the business community through golf.

NP: What is your favorite golf saying that relates to business?

In a round of golf, one can learn all that’s needed to determine if you want to do business with any or all of those in your group.

NP: What are your three favorite local courses to play and why?

Golf Club of Tennessee — the best course in Tennessee in my judgment. Belle Meade — in my view, the finest country club course in Tennessee. And Vanderbilt Legends — 36 great golf holes.

NP: What’s the best round of golf you ever played?

A 61 at Clarksville Country Club when I was with the 101st at Fort Campbell 45 years ago.

NP: What’s your favorite club in your bag?

A Walter Hagen 56 degree sand wedge, which I used for nearly 20 years.

NP: Which club do you wish you never had to pull out of the bag?

These days, most of them, but right now I am probably most uncomfortable with a three wood from the fairway.

NP: What’s your drink of choice on the 19th hole?

A Macallan 12 single-malt scotch.

NP: If you could assemble a dream golf foursome, who would be the other three players?

My son, Forrest Conner, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.

NP: Ever had a hole in one?

I’ve been very lucky with 10, plus a double eagle on No. 8 at Link Hills in Greeneville, Tenn., in 1997, playing with Forrest in the TN father/son tournament.

NP: You provided the first gift funding for the Cleo and Lewis Conner Sr. short game practice facility used by Vanderbilt University golfers. What’s the value of that property for these collegiate golfers in SEC competition?

The facility contains greens and chipping complexes of various types of grass different from that of Vanderbilt Legends. This allows our teams to become familiar with these grasses in preparation for tournaments played on these surfaces.

NP: What impact has golf had on your life?

Golf has been an enormous part of my athletic, social and professional life. Golf has allowed me to establish and maintain very meaningful lifetime relationships with many people I would otherwise likely never have known.

NP: Talk about the state of golf and golf facilities in Nashville and across Tennessee.

Golf is declining nationally because of the recession and the overbuilding of courses. Tennessee has not been completely spared. However, the game locally and statewide is generally thriving because of the excellent facilities available, the partnerships between all organizations involved with the game (e.g. pros, amateurs, superintendents, club managers) and because of the continued emphasis by all on junior golf.

NP: Thanks, Judge.