Thanksgiving buffet returning to the Clubhouse

Make your Thanksgiving plans with the Clubhouse, which will begin taking email reservations starting Tuesday, Oct. 26 via a special email address to be shared soon.

Expect all the traditional fixings for the return of the Thanksgiving buffet on Thursday, Nov. 25. Reservations will be from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Clubhouse will start accepting reservations on Tuesday, October 26 with cut-off for reservations on Thursday, Nov. 18.

Dining parties will be limited to 16 people.

For all those family members arriving on Wednesday, Nov. 24, the Clubhouse will also be open that day with a select menu from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Look for more details about reservations and the menu in the coming weeks.

Until then, regular dining reservations are highly recommended for the Clubhouse: (706) 268-1253 or on the OpenTable app on the dining page when you log on at

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The Trading Post officially opens on Friday, Oct. 15. to deliver one-stop shopping for your favorite Big Canoe collectibles

By POA Staff

Shortly after he was hired in June, Big Canoe Head Golf Professional Mike Miller surveyed the inventory in the Pro Shop in the Clubhouse and a light bulb went off.

Among the array of assorted golf shirts and accessories, the store featured Big Canoe souvenirs and items. Everything from Big Canoe license plates and hoodies to glassware and serving trays would undoubtedly catch the interest of non-golfers, he thought – that is if they even knew they were on the shelves of the Pro Shop.

Mike and his staff aim to change that on Friday, Oct. 15, with the official grand opening of the Big Canoe Trading Post. Taking up the eastern side of the Pro Shop that looks onto Duffers, the Trading Post is designed to draw those more interested in a Big Canoe baseball cap or beer mug than typical golf accessories such as a headcover or a ball caddy.

To help kick things off, all Big Canoe long and short-sleeve T-shirts will be 25 percent off on opening day.

With an expanded inventory of Big Canoe-focused stock that has nothing to do with 9-irons, the Trading Post caters to everyone from Property Owners eager to show their community pride to visitors who after dining in the Clubhouse want to come down to nab a Big Canoe keepsake.

“We’re not trying to have a pro shop that has a few Big Canoe goodies in it,” Mike explains. “We’re doing something very different, to bring in all the people who might not play golf and want to pick from a nice mix of items that celebrate what makes Big Canoe special.”

Not lost on Miller or Alison “Ali” Littley, the Pro Shop merchandiser who has been ordering Big Canoe collectibles, is the upcoming holiday season. Ali has selected an array of Big Canoe-branded kitchen items, such as wine glasses, coffee mugs, and Lazy Susans; clothes such as hoodies, sweatshirts, belts and assorted hats. And even items especially specific to Big Canoe, such as baseball caps each featuring Big Canoe’s most iconic animal residents: A bald eagle and a black bear. She also has ordered Big Canoe-branded blankets, magnets and Christmas ornaments, which at press time are scheduled to arrive shortly.

Among the many non-Big Canoe items on the block are the line of Simply Southern T-shirts and apparel, fall-themed dish towels and more bear-focused items than you can shake a picnic basket at. Also, look for Spartina brand goods including jewelry, handbags, scarves and other apparel.

Speaking of Big Canoe’s favorite furry critters, Ali has taken the Trading Post to another level with a bear-themed welcome sign available for purchase. Even the shop’s signature signage features a mini-canoe occupied by a lounging bear under the words “Welcome to the Trading Post.”

“We’re always happy to help folks knock off as many things as possible from their Christmas shopping list,” Mike says, “but what we really want everyone to know is that they can find all their Big Canoe items right here in the Clubhouse.”

New items are arriving every few days as the Trading Post, like all brick-and-mortar operations, contend with supply chain-related delays – so be sure to stop in regularly and check out what new shipments have arrived.

The Trading Post is open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. All Property Owners are entitled to 10 percent off and golf amenity members are entitled to 20 percent off all items. These regular discounts cannot be combined with the 25 percent shirt discount available on Oct. 15. Info: (706) 268-3323.

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Meet top-ranked tennis ace Chris Bussert, Big Canoe’s resident athletic champ

Big Canoe has had its share of residents with a serious athletic pedigree. Hall of Fame NFL  quarterback Fran Tarkenton lived here in 1977. And Wimbledon finalist and Australian Open winner Roscoe Tanner also logged time in the mountains of Big Canoe.

However, Big Canoe has never been home to an athlete while they were still at the top of their game – until now.

Chris Bussert, who has lived part-time in Big Canoe since 2006, recently achieved the No. 1 national ranking as one half of a doubles team in the United States Tennis Association’s men’s 65 and older division. He and his playing partner, Danny Carlson, have been tearing up the senior circuit, with recent wins at the Atlanta and Asheville senior invitationals; the National Men’s 65s Indoors in Minneapolis; and national team events in Asheville, N.C., and Hilton Head, S.C.

If Chris, 65, looks like he might be more at ease clutching a law book than a tennis racket, it’s for good reason: he’s still a practicing attorney, specializing in intellectual property law as a senior counsel at the Atlanta office of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton (

Chris stepped off the court long enough to sit down to reflect on his accomplishments.

Chris Bussert and partner Danny Carlson are the nation’s top-ranked doubles team in the United States Tennis Association’s men’s 65 and older division.

Chris and his partner’s record: Since they began playing together in January 2020, they have a 27-2 record, have won five national tournaments and were runners-up twice. Individually, they are tied for first in the country. Chris is also ranked individually in the top 10 in the world in the men’s 65 doubles division. (Doubles players are individually ranked in international competition).

Chris’ time in Big Canoe: Though he has lived here part-time since 2006, Chris didn’t make Big Canoe his permanent home until June 2020. The USTA, the national governing body for the sport of tennis, requires players to designate a city where they are based. Chris recently changed it from Decatur to Big Canoe. “I have had to get very good with my elevator pitch about Big Canoe as I get questioned about it at every tournament,” he says. “And I wear my Big Canoe tennis club shirt proudly.”

His Big Canoe elevator pitch: “It is one of the premier tennis facilities certainly in the state of Georgia,” he says. “The clay courts are extremely well-maintained and you also have two fully insulated indoor courts with premium LED lighting. An extremely friendly tennis community. Never a problem getting a court. And the surrounding area is gorgeous – it’s like playing tennis in a nature preserve. Of all the places we looked at, there is really nothing like this.”

Keeping it in the family: Chris also plays father son doubles with his 32-year-old son Shaun Bussert. They have two national championships among their accomplishments: The Senior Father Son Indoors in 2016 and the Senior Father Son Grass Court in 2017.

What makes Chris’ play stand out: “He’s a throwback kind of player,” says part-time Big Canoe resident John Hanna, the publisher of Net News (, the official publication of the Atlanta Lawn Tennis Association (ALTA). “His strokes are somewhat unconventional. He’s got a pretty nasty forehand – and I mean that in a positive way – because he slices it so it stays low and then the other guy has to hit the ball up.” Typically, the first tennis player forced to hit the ball higher tends to lose the point.

On maintaining his health in a physically punishing sport: “You have to spend at least as much time in the gym as you do on the court,” he says. “I have been working with Terence Griggs in the Wellness Center for the last five months to improve flexibility and endurance. The key is making sure that before you hit your first ball you are limber and warmed up. I stretch for a good 20 minutes before I hit a tennis ball. And you have to plan your rest days.”

Shaun and his dad Chris Bussert have two national championships among their accomplishments

Battle-scarred but still going: “I should tell you that I have had five major surgeries in the last six years,” he says. The injury list includes a torn quadriceps tendon in 2012, which he retore and had repaired in 2016; a broken fifth metatarsal in his left foot in 2017 and a broken fifth metatarsal in his right foot in 2018; and a hip resurfacing on his left hip in 2020. “I have been basically playing partial years every year because of the surgeries,” he adds.

Other accomplishments: When he was a student-athlete at Division III Kalamazoo College, he won the Division III national singles and doubles championships in 1978 and became the only player in Division III history to score a win at the Division I tournament in Athens, Ga. He played the satellite tour in 1979-80 including the Wimbledon and U.S. Clay Court qualifiers in 1980.

Why he stopped playing in his 20s: “I made the determination that I was no threat to break into the top 100,” he recalls, “So I went to law school . . . got married, had kids and essentially stopped playing for 24 years. I put my toe back in the water in my 50s, but I really started playing seriously again when I turned 60.”

His favorite thing about Big Canoe: “Whatever your interest is, it seems like there is a club for that. I started playing in the ping pong club Wednesday nights at the Wellness Center. It has been fun. But it’s the people I have interacted with who have been exemplary: (Wellness Activities Director) Steve Panetta, Terence Griggs, (Racquet Club Manager) Linda Powell. They have all enhanced the experience and it’s been great. I’m really glad we made the move here.”

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Upcoming Vaccine Clinics

The Wellness Collaborative in partnership with Jasper Drugs will offer vaccine clinics 9 a.m.-noon Thursday, Oct. 14 and 9 a.m.-noon Tuesday, Nov. 2 at the Broyles Center at the Big Canoe Chapel. Everyone must bring photo identification, Medicare (red, white & blue cards) and insurance (if applicable). Among the available vaccinations:

COVID-19 boosters (Pfizer; and, pending approval, Moderna) – must wait at least 6 months since last Pfizer vaccination (and, when approved, 8 months since last Moderna vaccination); individuals 65 and older and individuals 18 and older with underlying medical conditions are among those eligible. Must bring proof of previous COVID-19 vaccinations. No pre-registration required.
Flu Shots – regular and high-dosage (for over 65); No pre-registration required
Shingles – Shingrix vaccine – given in two doses, six months apart. Pre-registration required so adequate vaccines are available. Please send email to

Pickens Urgent Care & Primary Care will be offering the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine as well as the third booster vaccine for Pfizer. The drive-through vaccines are available at the Pickens County Chamber of Commerce, 500 Veterans Memorial Blvd., Jasper, Ga 30143. The first shot will be offered Friday, Oct. 8 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the second shot will be available Friday, Nov. 5 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

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Wellness Center Kayak & Stand-up Paddleboard Auction

The Wellness Center will be hosting an auction to sell six used kayaks and eight used stand-up paddleboards (SUP’s). Below is all the info you’ll need to know to place a bid on these items.


Six used sit in kayaks for sale: includes paddle, sold in condition as is
Only bids in a sealed envelope will be accepted
Sealed bids to be delivered to the Wellness Center: attention Steve
Bids may be dropped off 10/8 – 10/21
Bids will be opened and winners contacted Monday 10/21

To be accepted, bid must contain the following info:

*Name *Contact info *Amount of bid per craft
Minimum bid – $35
Highest six bids win (you may bid on more than one craft)
Must furnish transportation to pick up item(s) no later than Friday 10/28, contact Steve (706) 268-3441 to arrange access to the locked kayaks
Kayaks are located at the Beach Club (on the dock) and available for inspection
Cash or check accepted: check made out to Big Canoe POA

Stand-up Paddleboards 

Two year old Bic Tough Tec SUP’s for sale
Four – 9’2” 30lb Youth boards, weight limit 180lbs, originally $695
Four – 11’ 42lb Adult boards, weight limit 285lbs, originally $775
Only sealed bids will be accepted – Delivered to the Wellness Center
Bids accepted 10/8 – 10/21
Bids will be opened and winners contacted Monday 10/21

To be accepted, bid must contain the following info:

*Name *Contact info *Amount of bid
Minimum bid – $45
Highest eight bids win (you may bid on more than one SUP)
Does not include the Paddle
Must furnish transportation & pick up item(s) no later than Friday 10/28, contact Steve (706) 268-3441 to arrange access to the locked SUP’s
SUP’s are located at the Beach Club (on rack) and available for inspection
Cash or check accepted, check made out to Big Canoe POA

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Big Canoe Director of Operations Jason Brownell stepping down to pursue entrepreneurship

Back in 1995, “Forrest Gump” won the Oscar for best picture, Montreal had a Major League Baseball team, and a fitness center was but a dream in Big Canoe.

That was also the year that a 23-year-old Pickens High School graduate named Jason Brownell was hired as a golf course laborer to primarily groom the bunkers in Big Canoe.

“After about 90 days,” Jason said, “I told them that I could do more than rake bunkers. I wanted to do other things.”

Indeed, Jason did “other things” as he continued advancing through the POA ranks before 2013 when he become the director of operations.

That same desire for new challenges is what prompted Jason to announce that he is resigning from the POA as of Oct. 7 – exactly 26 years, 15 weeks and four days since he went on the Big Canoe payroll. Jason will soon be running his own business.

Jason Brownell (second from left) working as a Big Canoe golf course laborer in 1996.

“I have always dreamed of having my own business,” Jason says, “and having something that I could be 100% in charge of is exciting to me. It’s a new challenge that I am looking forward to.”

Jason, 49, leaves just as the POA has endured what he describes as a “nerve-wracking but also pretty cool” stretch that included draining and repairing Lake Disharoon, spearheading projects such as the renovation of the indoor tennis courts and many recent Spruce Up Big Canoe projects.

“Given all of the challenges that we have faced this year,” says POA General Manager Scott Auer, “with getting our assorted dams, roads, buildings and infrastructure back on track, it was awesome having someone with 26 years of experience onboard. As a former entrepreneur, I can understand the thrill of small business ownership. I am among the many folks wishing Jason nothing but the greatest success.”

Scott is working with the operations team to design the best organization for Big Canoe’s future success.

A longtime resident of Jasper, Jason lives in the same town where he grew up, though not without a few detours. He attended and graduated from the University of Georgia in Athens and lived in Big Canoe in the mid-’90s with his parents. His folks, Ronnie and Nellie, called the community home from 1994 to 2020.

Early in his career, Jason took on jobs that involved working on golf courses, which led to him landing that first gig in Big Canoe. He advanced in the POA, moving up to golf course assistant, golf course superintendent before landing his current job.

In that time, he witnessed plenty of changes and major events, from the Nov. 10, 2002 megastorm that damaged homes and uprooted thousands of trees; to the Aug. 15, 2006 lightning strike that set the previous Clubhouse ablaze. There also has been the pleasure of supervising of witnessing the renovation of the Big Canoe golf courses. The rejuvenation of Creek 9, which is set to reopen in spring 2022, is the fourth such project Jason has been on hand for.

While he’s eager to see the final product when Creek 9 reopens, Jason said now is the time to move on because of a new business pursuit.

“I am at an age now that if I am ever going to make a change, now is the best time to do it,” Jason says. “But it’s bittersweet. Big Canoe has been awfully good to me and I hope I have been good to Big Canoe. I am grateful and truly blessed to have lived and worked here and to have served in this community.”

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Bear Society raises $2,000 for local non-profit organization

The Bear Society recently presented a $2,000 check to the Big Canoe Chapel to be given to local non-profit organizations at the Chapel’s discretion. The money was generated through ticket sales and donations collected at the July 3 Terraces Concert featuring Brad Morgan, who opened the show, and the Sock Monkey Electric Band featuring Jim Murphy, Ellen Bennett, Tom McGuire, Steve Smeltz and John Wolfe.

With an attendance of about 600 friends and neighbors, the concert was emceed by Inside the Gates Radio host Craig Looney. The many volunteers who managed parking and checked attendees into the amphitheater made the event possible.

The Bear Society, founded 10 years ago to support Big Canoe’s Clubhouse and Black Bear Pub, is a not-for-profit club that helps drive events and activities in Big Canoe.

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Golf maintenance update on the Creek 9

The seeded greens on the #7 hole of Creek 9 continue to grow. Photo by Lydell Mack

By Lydell Mack

The Creek 9 is starting to look like a golf course again.

After five months of construction, we had gotten used to staring at acres of exposed dirt and heavy equipment rolling around the property. At press time, we are 75% complete with sodding and the bulldozers have been decommissioned.  Now that the sod has been laid in most areas, the new design changes really stand out and look amazing.

We’ve mowed the fairway lines into the first few holes and now they truly look like a new golf course. Some have commented that the turf looks very brown and suggested that we water it but in order to get the grass down to fairway height we have to take off a lot with the first mowing – hence the current off-color appearance.  The Bermuda grass will recover from this temporary discoloration in about a week and will tighten up into a dense, fine turf by next spring’s opening date.

The greens were seeded on Aug. 16 and are on schedule for a good grow-in this fall. After 90 days, they will really start to thicken up and look good as we mow and roll them. Despite their improving appearance, they are still very young seedlings, which are fragile and need to be left alone. For this reason, we insist that all foot traffic, including pets, is kept off of them. If you are walking the Creek, please keep your pet on a leash. And please refrain from chipping and putting golf balls on the new greens until we are open for play and you have checked in with the pro shop. Creek will not be available for play until all of the turf has matured in Spring 2022.

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Leadership Big Canoe kicks off news season, explores the community’s rich history

By Ann Lehr

Leadership Big Canoe, much like the NFL, began its new season with a big bang.

The new students, 22 in all, met on Sept. 9 to enjoy a wine-and-cheese event at the Big Canoe Lodge. The students got a chance to get to know one another in a casual setting.

Each student has a varied background, which became apparent when they introduced themselves and told the class what brought them to Big Canoe. One student told how she and her husband had driven across the United States looking for the ideal place to live. Another student has lived here 22 years while another came here as a child. Others said they had been here only for a year or so. Board member Nancy Derajtys brought in board games as an ice breaker. Everyone had a great time.

The first session was the next day at the Lodge. Candace Robertson, president of the POA board and Board Member Amy Tropfenbaum spoke about the governance of Big Canoe. Though one might think this a boring subject, both women reinforced the fact that Big Canoe is a “little slice of heaven” because of the governing features in place. Big Canoe residents all have the same common interest in ensuring that the area remains the pristine setting we all fell in love with. The rules, covenants and bylaws all help to keep this the same magical place that attracted everyone here in the first place.  The students were reminded that all residents are co-stewards of these lands.

The class finished with the screening of a video on the history of Big Canoe that featured Charlene Terrell, a noted historian who has extensively documented the community. She covered the history of the original Indian population in Big Canoe and the first settlers, such as the Disharoons, the Cowarts and the Tates. She also told tales of moonshiners, the Wolfscratch School and the pink marble Tate House.

The video also featured Tom Cousins, the original developer, speaking about the most important thing he accomplished, which was to see that development of the land did not “mess things up.” He helped with the adoption of covenants aimed at protecting the ecology and the natural beauty of the land.

The video continued with Ken Rice, one of the original residents of Big Canoe, and Bill Byrne, the most recent developer. Byrne stressed that the land had to be protected so that the original vision was preserved.

Everyone went away realizing that we live in a special place that we are charged with protecting as we ensure that these lands maintain their pristine and natural beauty.

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Tee it up for Charity: Big Canoe Chapel Men’s Fellowship Annual Golf Tournament

By Judy Bellenger

Big Canoe Chapel’s Men’s Fellowship has a number of ministries that serve the needs of many in the Big Canoe community and the surrounding area. Through their ministries such as Home Repairs, Healing Hearts, Widow’s Assistance, and Men to Men, they have built wheelchair ramps, visited and painted with nursing home residents, inspected and conducted repairs on widow’s homes, sponsored inspirational movie nights, provided spiritual and activity support for men with needs, and helped charitable organizations throughout Dawson and Pickens counties.

Since 2007, their sole fundraising event has been the annual Men’s Fellowship Charity Golf Tournament. The proceeds from this event make these ministries possible. This year’s event is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 6 at Big Canoe Golf Club.

The tournament is a four-player scramble open to both men and women. Check-in begins at 8:00am, shotgun start at 9:30, and lunch following play. Contests and prizes provide afternoon fun.

Don’t play golf? You can still participate through contributions or through an array of sponsorship opportunities ranging from $50 to $1,000.

The Big Canoe Chapel Men’s Fellowship is a Christian social organization that creates opportunities to serve others and to foster personal and spiritual growth. All donations and proceeds are used to help those in Pickens and Dawson counties who cannot help themselves. Form a team, join the fun and fellowship and help those in need!

Contributions, sponsorships, and registrations can be made at, mailing to Big Canoe Chapel Men’s Fellowship, 10434 Big Canoe, Jasper, GA 30143, or placing in Men’s Fellowship alpha box. For questions or additional information, contact Dick Girdler at 706-579-1443.

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