John Eckenrode

Jul 07, 2017

Palm City, Fla. — John “Jack” Eckenrode, one of the finest athletes ever produced in the Lehigh Valley, died July 7, 2017, at his home of natural causes. He was 73.

He was managing partner in Fox Hollow Golf Club, Trumbauersville and Berkleigh Golf Club, Kutztown, Pa. He was also a former partner in the North River Golf Course, Stuart, Fla.

A Bethlehem, Pa., native and 1961 graduate of Liberty High School, Eckenrode was 1961 PIAA 138-pound wrestling champion as well as Northeast Regional and District XI champion that same year. He was also Northeast Regional runner-up in 1960. He won the 1961 District XI pole vault title.

He went on to become one of the area’s most accomplished golfers, both as a professional and as an amateur, qualifying for and participating in some of the country’s top events, including the USGA Mid Amateur Championship, the British Senior Open, the USGA Senior Open and the Senior PGA Championship.

He won numerous local and sectional tournaments in both the Philadelphia Section of the PGA and the Maine Chapter of the New England PGA, including the Maine Chapter PGA Championship. His 61 remains the course record at Green Pond Golf Club. He has an astounding 14 holes in one to his credit.

Jack was inducted into the Liberty High School Hall of Fame in 2005 and the Lehigh Valley Golf Hall of Fame in 2011.

He began his golf career as an assistant at Saucon Valley Country Club. He also taught at Cerromar Dorado Beach, Puerto Rico, under Chi Chi Rodriquez, as well as Breakers West Palm Beach, Fla.

Later he became the head golf professional at the exclusive Tarratine Club of Dark Harbor and then head golf professional of the Samoset Golf Resort, Rockport. He returned to the area to become the head professional at Shepherd’s Hill, where he once carded a 60.

Subsequently, he opened Jack’s Golf Center in Bethlehem,Pa., one of the first non-green-grass golf equipment retail operations. From there he purchased Thunderbird Golf Club in Trumbauersville, Pa., and converted it to Fox Hollow Golf Club, which he later sold and repurchased. He added Berkleigh Golf Cub to his business interests 10 years ago.

He is survived by his wife, Martha (Funke) Eckenrode,; his brother Robert (Red) Eckenrode; three grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

He was predeceased by his oldest brother, Carl.

No services will be held at this time.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the American Cancer Society or the Palm City Humane Society.

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