The Honors Course Founder, Past Executive Committee Member Lupton Dies  February 14, 2015

The Honors Course Founder, Past Executive Committee Member Lupton Dies 

May 17, 2010

John T. “Jack” Lupton III, who founded The Honors Course and served on the USGA Executive Committee in 1983, died on May 16 at the age of 83 in his hometown of Chattanooga, Tenn.

The grandson of Coca-Cola Bottling’s wealthiest owner, Lupton was best known for his visionary leadership and generous donations

Jack Lupton served briefly on the USGA Executive Committee in 1983, the same year he founded The Honors Course, which will host its fourth USGA championship in 2011. (USGA Museum)
to various Chattanooga projects and charities.

“His generosity is legendary, and frankly, often anonymous,” wrote Dick Horton, the executive director of the Tennessee Golf Association, adding that Lupton made a $4 million gift to the Tennessee Golf Foundation to create Golf House Tennessee, which set the standard for junior golf facilities.

Former USGA president William C. Campbell once wrote: 

“Jack’s contributions to the USGA have been unique.” Campbell said. “To my knowledge, he has never declined to help the USGA with money or anything important to the game.”

In 1983, Lupton created The Honors Course, a Pete Dye design in Ooltewah, just north of Chattanooga, that was built on the principles of the amateur creed. A friend of Bob Jones, Lupton wanted to found a club that characterized and epitomized the nine-time USGA champion. Even the club’s logo is very simple: the Martin Condon Tennessee State Amateur Trophy above the words The Honors Course. He also named various holes on the course after well-known amateur golfers.

Since its opening, the club has hosted three USGA competitions (1991 U.S. Amateur; 1994 Curtis Cup Match and 2005 U.S. Mid-Amateur). A fourth, the USGA Senior Women’s Amateur, will be contested in September 2011.

“Jack Lupton was a giant of a man,” former Chattanooga mayor and U.S. Senator Bob Corker told WRCB-TV in Chattanooga. “When most had given up on Chattanooga, he saw the great potential that existed in the community that he loved and rallied us around his dream for the city we enjoy today. Not only was he enormously generous, he was willing to risk his reputation on civic endeavors like the Aquarium and was an inspiration to all of us. He was both a mentor and friend to me and I will miss him greatly.”

Fourteen years ago, Lupton sold the world’s largest Coca-Coca bottling company for $1.6 billion. Lupton used some of those monies to help finance many local Chattanooga projects, including a $25 million gift to the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. He also helped raise nearly $50 million for the Tennessee Aquarium. Other donations went to helping primary health care, elementary and secondary education, and arts and cultural activities.

In 2007, the Tennessee Valley PBS television station produced a 15-minute segment about Lupton’s philanthropic exploits and his impact on the Chattanooga community.

A memorial service is scheduled to be held at 4 p.m. on May 18 at the Church of the Good Shepherd on Lookout Mountain. A private reception and burial is to follow.

Story written by USGA communications staff writer David Shefter.