Backswing RoundUp

Who inspired you to get into golf and ultimately pursue becoming a golf professional?

Who inspired you to get into golf and ultimately pursue becoming a golf professional?
Golf is such a storied sport with lots of traditions passed on through generations. We asked some our golf professionals what it was that ultimately made them want to pursue a career in the game of golf.

Easy question, my inspiration is my father. I began working for my father and former PGA of America President, Tom Addis when I was 14 years old.

Easy question, my inspiration is my father. I began working for my father and former PGA of America President, Tom Addis when I was 14 years old. Prior to his role as PGA President, he served many years for our San Diego Chapter and Southern California PGA, as well as on National Committees and Board of Directors. His involvement with our great organization allowed for us to attend major championships, Ryder Cups and other great events that inspired me to even play golf, as I grew up playing other sports such as football and baseball. Around my junior year of High School, I started taking golf seriously and went on to play in college with the intention of playing professionally, like a lot of us golf professionals!

As it became clear that a playing career wasn’t in the cards for me, it was an easy decision to turn to the business side of golf, attain my PGA Membership and build my own career. I had the pleasure of working as a professional, for my dad, for many years. During that time, he inspired me to pay attention to every detail, know my staff, know my membership, know my strengths, and especially know my weaknesses so I can always be improving who I am as a person, a golf professional and a business operator. As much as I have gained from him in my career path, I have gained twice as much from him as a person. He has inspired me to be the best person I can be, every day, because that is what he is. Love you dad.

Bryan Addis

PGA Golf Professional

General Manager

The Crosby Club, Rancho Santa Fe, CA

My inspiration in golf is, without a doubt, my Grandfather. He's a special man and he used golf to teach me so many lessons about myself and about life in general.

My inspiration in golf is, without a doubt, my Grandfather. He’s a special man and he used golf to teach me so many lessons about myself and about life in general. He loved the game because it gave him a chance to spend time with friends and family – people he truly loved. Golfing with him showed me that there was more important things than hitting the perfect shot. Perfect shots didn’t matter if no one else was there to appreciate it. He admired the good shots of his partners (or his grandchildren) more than his own. I will always cherish our time on the golf course. Mostly because it had nothing to do with golf.

He was the ultimate teacher, role model and playing partner. During one round I hit a poor shot that ended up under a tree near a green side bunker. Although I was in a very poor spot, my Grandfather said one thing to me as I was walking to my golf ball – “Never give up a hole.” With a little encouragement from him, I focused, addressed the ball and chipped in from an impossible spot. I will never forget the look on his face after I hit that shot. His impact on me is a constant reminder to always try your best even when you’re not at your best. In golf you should never give up a hole. In life you should never give up.

Golf is an amazing game. It’s not about where you are now, it’s always about where you are going. It’s not about making mistakes, its about recovering from those mistakes. One mistake does not define a round of golf unless you let it. The parallels between life and golf are impossible to ignore. I consider myself very lucky to have a role model that taught me so much about golf. Little did he know that he was also giving me countless life lessons on that little nine hole golf course.

Scott Wisnom Director of Sales and Marketing Whiskey Creek Golf Club

Scott Wisnom

Director of Sales and Marketing

Whiskey Creek Golf Club, Ijamsville, Maryland

I didn’t decide to be a golf professional until after I bought a driving range and built a 9 hole lighted par 3

My dad & grandfather inspired me to play golf in the beginning. I didn’t decide to be a golf professional until after I bought a driving range and built a 9 hole lighted par 3. I jumped in to help a junior camp one day and fell in love with teaching golf. Soon after, I met the older much wiser Jim Hardy and he helped me become an accomplished golf teacher. Now I help other teachers get better in their efforts to teach juniors & beginners of all ages.

Senior Director, Academy Development U.S. Kids Golf, Longleaf Golf & Family Club

James Hardy

Senior Director, Academy Development

U.S. Kids Golf, Longleaf Golf & Family Club

Longleaf Golf & Family Club, Southern Pines, NC

I was always a huge baseball player, but when Tiger won the Masters in 97’ he really transformed the sport.

I was inspired to get into the golf industry nearly my whole life. My parents were both avid golfers, and I grew up in the height of the Tiger era. I was always a huge baseball player, but when Tiger won the Masters in 97’ he really transformed the sport. We had tons of athletes leaving major sports (Football, Baseball, Basketball) and starting to play golf on a more serious level. Golf became “cool” all of a sudden. This trend really motivated me to enter the golf industry. I worked outside services all through high school at a country club, and then enrolled in the PGM program at Methodist University. Ironically I’ve never worked outside of the golf industry and don’t see that ever changing.

Director of Golf, Tahoe Mountain Club (Old Greenwood & Gray’s Crossing)

Travis Alley

Director of Golf Operations

Tahoe Mountain Club (Old Greenwood & Gray’s Crossing), Truckee, CA

My mom inspired me to play golf. She was a club Champion at Stanford University Golf Course, which was our home course growing up.

My mom inspired me to play golf. She was a club Champion at Stanford University Golf Course, which was our home course growing up. Both my parents worked for the University, Dad coached Baseball and Mom worked at the Stanford Hospital. I played a lot of little league baseball growing up along with soccer and basketball. My mom knew when i could no longer play baseball that golf would be a great sport to play as a teenager and beyond.

My mom was a teacher/coach, she taught swimming and tennis and Dad was a pitching coach at Stanford so they certainly inspired me to be a coach. But as far as a player, I grew up with 3 older brothers and we all earned college athletic scholarships to school (UCLA, Santa Clara and Michigan) so i guess it was in my blood to be competitive and want to pursue golf at a higher level. I loved competing and traveling around the country playing the Mini Tours. Never made it onto the LPGA but what a great experience when you are 21-25 years old. Then i shifted gears to teaching and coaching and it was so rewarding to help others with their game. Professional golf is a very selfish pursuit. It was actually refreshing to start worrying about others games instead of my own. I still play and compete, wish i knew then what i know now about the golf swing and the game but i guess now is my chance to pass it on to others and help them achieve their golfing goals!

Director of Instruction, Berkeley Hall Club

Krista Dunton

Director of Instruction

Berkeley Hall Club

Berkeley Hall Club, Bluffton, SC

I have always had a love for the game of golf and was inspired to get into the business by my father who was also in the service industry.

I have always had a love for the game of golf and was inspired to get into the business by my father who was also in the service industry. (My dad Ron owned and operated a Dry Cleaning Business)

I believed my love for the game and the passion for servicing people to provide a great golf experience at any golf facility I was involved in was what drove me to make this my profession.

I have been a class “A” PGA professional since 1990 and started my career in Minnesota.

Other areas I have worked are Myrtle Beach who I was mentored by former PGA President Gary Schaal, Northern Michigan, West Palm Beach Florida, Toledo Ohio, and now Western NY,

GM / Director of Golf Operations Ravenwood Golf Club

Mike Roeder

GM / Director of Golf Operations

Ravenwood Golf Club, Victor, NY

I started playing golf at 8 years of age, joined as a junior member at 10 and worked in a golf shop on the weekends, on my own while the Professionals were out playing at the age of 12.

I started playing golf at 8 years of age, joined as a junior member at 10 and worked in a golf shop on the weekends, on my own while the Professionals were out playing at the age of 12. I was enamored and with the Assistant Professionals ability to play the game, the diversity in their chores and the life that it allowed them to live. I paid attention to their skills, improved my own game, learnt to diagnose golf swings and how to perform club repairs, all before I was 15 years of age. I loved going out in the evenings and playing with the Professionals during the week and caddying for them during the summer, when I was out of school.

I remained working for the same professional when I came out of high school and was lucky enough to have an Assistant leave, at that point I jumped at the opportunity to get into this great profession, one that I still love and have passion for even today 26 years later. I am now a British and American PGA Member. I still actively play, teach and love to run events for our members and guests. Our profession allows us to wear many hats and as a result every day is different. I feel truly fortunate to call myself a Golf Professional.

Milburn Golf & Country Club

Luke Smith

Director of Golf

Milburn Golf & Country Club, Overland Park, KS

During the summer, I was waiting tables at Castle Pines Golf Club in Castle Rock, CO. It was there that I met Keith Schneider. Keith is the Professional who was my inspiration and who got me into the golf business.

Growing up, I was a baseball, basketball, and soccer player. I actually didn’t start playing golf until later in college. But I loved it. I loved everything about it. The traditions, the history, the courses, the equipment, the clothes, the shoes, the fun, the laughter, and because of that organic respect and integrity that is built into the game, you naturally treat the game with a deeper connection and even your playing partners with a bit more care and civility. You take your hat off when you shake hands, you repair ball marks, you support one another with kind words (depending on the size of the bet), you fill divots, you say “great shot” and you rake bunkers. I was hooked.

During the summer, I was waiting tables at Castle Pines Golf Club in Castle Rock, CO. It was there that I met Keith Schneider. Keith is the Professional who was my inspiration and who got me into the golf business. Keith is a Golf Professional’s Golf Professional. He got where he was by being incredibly dedicated, working harder than everyone around him, and having a unique emotional intelligence that allows to treat others with a level of professionalism and sincerity that is unmatched. When I would see Keith at Castle Pines, he was always so put together in terms of what he was wearing, what he was doing, and how he connected with others. It didn’t matter if it was a locker room attendant, housekeeper or the owner of the Broncos, he treated everyone with the same level of respect. The fact that this leader was also a Golf Professional made me think – “that is something that I would love to do and that’s someone I would love to be like”.

Jim Miller, PGA - Title: Club General Manager - Course or Golf Business Name: Sonnenalp Club - City, State: Edwards, CO

James Miller

PGA Golf Professional

Club General Manager

Sonnenalp Club, Edwards, CO

I was inspired by my late father Dan Parker Sr and Kevin Triefenbach (PGA professional at Gateway National in Madison Illinois).

I was inspired by my late father Dan Parker Sr and Kevin Triefenbach (PGA professional at Gateway National in Madison Illinois). They both showed me that golf is all about the “hang” with your friends and family. And that playing golf with others is the best character revealing tool they have ever seen. My desire to enter the golf industry came after meeting Tommy Armour III in a charity event. He gave me an opportunity to work in Texas at a place called Vaquero and it changed my life. I am grateful to be a part of the golf industry as I truly believe it is the best game ever created.

Troubadour Golf and Field club

Dan Parker

Head Golf Professional

Troubadour Golf and Field club, College Grove, TN

I thought it was only going to be a summer gig, but I started giving the majority of the lessons and I had a great mentor in our first assistant, Scott Stevens.

I actually got into the golf business by accident. In college I got a mathematics degree from the University of Colorado. I was going to be a teacher or maybe one day a professor. That was my dream. After college, I took a job teaching college prep to high school sophomores. I hated it! I didn’t have any disciplinary skills and everyone just treated me like one of the other kids. After that year, I tried tutoring math to struggling middle school kids over the summer. I hated that even more!

As I was wallowing in self pity and feeling lost, my Fiance’s dad told me there was an assistant professional position open at the course where he played. He was good friends with the Head Professional and said he would put in a good word for me. I had been playing golf since I was 5, played in high school, but not in college. Sure enough, my father-in-law had some pull and got me the gig.

I thought it was only going to be a summer gig, but I started giving the majority of the lessons and I had a great mentor in our first assistant, Scott Stevens. I got really into it and realized that I could apply what I learned in college to teaching the golf swing. I enrolled in the PGA program as fast as I could and passed my PAT. After a year, GOLFTEC was recruiting coaches pretty heavily and approached me with benefits, paid time off, more training and the ability to teach as many lessons as I could handle. 15 years later, here I am, about to give my 25,000th golf lesson.

Nathan Morris

Director of Instruction

Center Manager

GOLFTEC Westminster, Westminster, CO

I really started to take interest in the game when I joined The First Tee program, where I ultimately became the initial First Tee Scholar.

I come from a family of golfers, as both my mom, dad, and sister were active in the sport. I really started to take interest in the game when I joined The First Tee program, where I ultimately became the initial First Tee Scholar. Through my time and experiences being a scholar, I was able to meet some influential PGA Golf Professionals in the industry and it really ignited my interest in taking the same route. Having the opportunity to work with Troon Golf has fueled this fire further, and I look forward to the future to come

Director of Golf, Wickenburg Ranch Golf & Social Club (Managed by Troon)

Steven Outlaw

PGA Golf Professional

Director of Golf

Wickenburg Ranch Golf & Social Club, Wickenburg, Arizona

Allen Self took me on a tour of Bay Hill and introduced me to Arnold Palmer. I was hooked!

My father introduced me to the game when I was very young. He and I would play games around the practice green for hours. That was the time we got to spend together when he wasn’t working and I wasn’t playing other sports. When I was in high school my football coach had me tryout for golf to keep me active during the spring. Coach Dave Rider became a very big part of my life. He continues to support me years later. He taught me the value of giving back and supporting your community. I knew I wanted to be a golf professional when I was about 13 years old. The big question was how do I accomplish my goal.

During college sitting at the Sigma Chi house an alum Allen Self came to visit. I had always heard stories of Allen and how welled he played but more than that he was a great guy. He was working at Bay Hill as an assistant at the time and invited me to Orlando to see what the business was all about. Allen Self took me on a tour of Bay Hill and introduced me to Arnold Palmer. I was hooked! I look at what I do as not a job but as a dream. The people that got me where I am today are too many to name.

Old Tabby Links @ Spring Island

William Sampson

Director of Instruction

Old Tabby Links @ Spring Island, Okatie, SC

It was the smiles on the faces of the students he was helping that sort of triggered something in me that “helping people can be so rewarding.”

I had a summer job when I was 22 years old working on clay tennis courts and mowing grass on Fishers Island, NY when I got asked to work a Golf School for Billy Harmon. I was the fetch boy for chipping, bunker shots, range balls, etc…I wasn’t a golfer growing up, having played baseball and hockey in college. I remember listening to the passion he shared through his instruction, the demonstration skills he had, his great sense of humor, and the tremendous success his students were achieving in such a short time. It was the smiles on the faces of the students he was helping that sort of triggered something in me that “helping people can be so rewarding.”

Anyway, the golf school ends I get asked to drive him back to the ferry. We pull into the parking lot, and just before he backs his car onto the boat he commented on how hard I worked, and he asked me if I wanted to come work for him in California. I couldn’t say no, so three months later I’m out in Palm Desert at BIGHORN. Two years later I get a job working for Craig Harmon at Oak Hill, and the rest is history. Those six years with the Harmon’s constantly remind me of why I’m a Golf Professional: Passion, People Skills, Helping Others, and Pride. Oh, and a little bit of luck!

Lebanon Country Club

Christian Sheehan

Head Golf Professional

Lebanon Country Club, Lebanon, PA

The two who really stand out are Hank Johnson and Scott Davenport.

Like most Golf Professionals, I’ve been fortunate to have many mentors who have taken the time to invest in me and my career but the two who really stand out are Hank Johnson and Scott Davenport. Both were Golf Digest Instructors while also working at the NorthRiver Golf & Yacht Club in Tuscaloosa while I attended the University of Alabama. Hank was the Director of Golf and Scott was the Head Golf Professional.

Watching them impact others thru golf in such a positive way made me realize that I could be around the game I loved, have a positive impact on people and make a living as a Golf Professional. They showed me how important relationships, professionalism, high standards and attention to detail were to being successful in this business. They also taught me the importance of teaching and playing the game and how that adds credibility to our role as golf professionals. Lastly they pushed me to do things well and take a leadership role in all aspects of the business. I’m forever grateful to both of them!

Director of Golf & Club Operations, Crooked Stick Golf Club

Tony Pancake

PGA Golf Professional

Director of Golf & Club Operations

Crooked Stick Golf Club, Carmel, IN

I was inspired by my access to a golf course via being a caddie

I was inspired by my access to a golf course via being a caddie. I started shagging balls for .50 cents an hour at Fox Hill Country Club in Exeter Pa. I was 9 or 10 years old at the time. I began caddying carrying 1 bag for .90 for 9 holes and 1.50 for 18 holes. I loved the smell of the freshly cut grass, the smell of leather golf bags and even the smell of the dried up pools of water while searching for golf balls. It was wonderful and embedded in my mind the desire to be around it forever.

I became a class A golf professional in 1966 and have been at the same job at my club for 51 years. I got the head job at Lords Valley Country Club in Lords Valley Pa. when I was 24 and am now 75 and still am an active member and director of golf there. I have 53 years of being a class A professional, have been at the same job a Lords Valley Country club for 51 years and have been married to my wife for 55 years. Golf has been my whole life. I have watched it evolve successfully through the 80’s and 90’s. Unfortunately for the last 15 years it has been losing momentum and paying much less.

Being able to transform to the new digital and social culture has been the key to staying successful albeit even if that means just simply holding you own ground. In the long past I have been a club builder and used to fit and build 60 to 70 sets per year. I built a fitting inventory of 75 clubs or so with 5 different lengths, 6 different grip sizes and 5 different lie angles and 6 different flexes. This was great for many years until it became difficult for component manufacturers to duplicate the sophisticated head designs of the major manufacturers. Moreover they discovered my successful theory of providing demo clubs and fitting services. I am in the twilight of my golf career but still love the game and the golf environment.

Eugene Yanovitch

Director of Golf

Lords Valley Country Club, Lords Valley, PA

I am a third generation golfer (hence my entity 3rd Generation Golf)

I am a third generation golfer (hence my entity 3rd Generation Golf) as my Grandfather played on the Neckbone and Chitterling Tours (minority tours) and my dad was a pure athlete as he was a three sport collegiate athlete. He was scratch as a right hand golfer and a ten handicap left hand. He was a professional bowler with feats of bowling a 300 and making a hole in one in the same week.

I gave up football to play golf in high school as both sports were in the fall but there were no other junior golfers in the state of VA that looked like me. So that motivation led me to work harder and go to the course daily to hone my game. My dad was my teacher/coach, and successful in his own right on the high school level sending many youth to play college sports. With his recent passing I have been fortunate to follow in his footsteps coaching high school and junior college golf at the same schools.

Currently I am General Manager/Head Golf Professional at Forest Park Country Club in Martinsville, VA and I have been with The First Tee of the Triad since 2013.

General Manager/Head Golf Professional Forest Park Country Club 3rd Generation Golf

James Draper

General Manager/Head Golf Professional

Forest Park Country Club

3rd Generation Golf, Martinsville, Virginia

My attention to the game was earnestly grabbed as a teenager. I was fortunate to live near a venue (Castle Pines Golf Club) that hosted a PGA Tour Event (The International).

My attention to the game was earnestly grabbed as a teenager. I was fortunate to live near a venue (Castle Pines Golf Club) that hosted a PGA Tour Event (The International). Watching those tour players was very impressionable on me. I saw Phil Mickelson hole a wedge from 80 yards and went home to work on my wedges, trying to hit flop shots over the fence in our side yard getting as close as I could to the fence. I knew in some form or another I would be involved with golf the rest of my life. My father started me as a junior golfer but I was more involved in other sports growing up and throughout high school. However I returned to the game working as a guest services employee at Bear Dance Golf Club in Larkspur, Colorado and my career interest took hold. Those golf professionals had a passion for providing great experiences for golfers, making it professional and fun.

When I moved to The Ridge at Castle Pines North in Castle Pines, Colorado I began learning from the teaching professional there and my passion for teaching and coaching grew. Dennis Murray, PGA was the Director of Instruction and he helped me as a player and teacher. He gave me opportunities to teach alongside him and learn from his experience and knowledge. Being a PGA Professional today I think back to the help and encouragement I received and am willing to pass that along to others passionate about the game.

Player Development Coordinator Golf Westminster Legacy Ridge Golf Course & Walnut Creek Golf Preserve

Michael Weingartner

PGA TPI

Player Development Coordinator

Golf Westminster, Thornton, CO

I remember getting my starter set of Bob Rosburgs for Christmas when I was seven years old. I couldn't wait for Spring to come so I could go play with my Dad.

I remember getting my starter set of Bob Rosburgs for Christmas when I was seven years old. I couldn’t wait for Spring to come so I could go play with my Dad.

I fell in love with the smell of cut grass and warm sunshine. I maneuvered and chased my golf ball in that quiet sanctuary every chance my Dad said I could go. I was hooked!

Being outdoors with my Dad and Grandfather (who carried a single digit handicap) and learning the game from them brought so much joy. I quickly grew fascinated with the difficulty and the majesty of striking the golf ball and sending it where I wanted it to go.

As a teenager, I played on the High School Golf team. I had the opportunity to receive lessons from Harvey Penick, my Grandfather’s dear friend. He provided so much wisdom using so few words. Being in his presence and seeing his passion for the game fueled mine even more.

I worked at my local Golf Course as a cart boy and became more aware of the role of the Golf Professional. I forged ahead with that future in mind. I continue to love and nurture this great game through all the changes over the years: course conditions, equipment technology, rule changes.

One thing never changes, though. I still love the smell of cut grass and warm sunshine as I continue to maneuver and chase my golf ball.

Wolfdancer Golf Club

Kelly O'Donnell

Director of Golf Operations

Wolfdancer Golf Club, Lost Pines, TX

I would have to say being dropped off at the golf course at age 7 and picked up at age 17 created a love for the game.

I would have to say being dropped off at the golf course at age 7 and picked up at age 17 created a love for the game. Bob Stevens and then Mark Popp were the PGA Golf Professionals that I looked up to. Bob’s wife Penny would take me putting and spend time with me which I never forgot. Love paying it forward!

Colleton River Learning Center

David La Pour

Director of Instruction

Colleton River Learning Center

David La Pour Golf, Bluffton, SC

I was fortunate to grow up 20 miles from St. Andrews in Scotland and my playground included too many famous courses to list.

My father inspired me to get into the game as it is undoubtedly “the game for life” in many ways. I was fortunate to grow up 20 miles from St. Andrews in Scotland and my playground included too many famous courses to list. Having competed against the likes of Sam Torrance and Ewen Murray, I knew I would never make it to the top but I never lost my love for the game. Being at an international level at another sport helped me get over my disappointment.

Returning to the game as an corporate controller at a major golf management company, I parlayed my work through an IPO into a golf management position at a facility. Becoming a PGA Member was a natural career path after being immersed in the culture. The past 23 years have been worth every minute.

Ian Grant

PGA Teaching Professional

Mistwood Golf Dome

Oak Brook Golf Club , Oak Brook, IL

Will Reilly, a former National PGA Junior Golf Leader Award winner

Will Reilly, a former National PGA Junior Golf Leader Award winner, was a young pro at Twining Valley GC, the local public golf course I used to frequent in college. He would find time to play games with me – chipping, putting, pitching, etc., and was my introduction to what PGA Professionals do day-to-day. He is a fantastic human being, always upbeat and positive, so it was easy to latch on to him as a mentor…. and that led to my wanting to be a PGA Pro upon graduating from college.

Director of Golf, Philadelphia Cricket Club

James Smith

Director of Golf

COO

Philadelphia Cricket Club, Flourtown, PA

I've always loved having the pressure on me and not relying on others.

My uncle played briefly on the old Nike Tour and after going to an event my dad asked if I’d like to try golf and that was that. As time went on, I got pretty good, played at Liberty University and decided to turn pro. I played for a while on mini tours all over the east coast before deciding to settle down a bit. The next natural step seemed to be working in golf to give back to the game and to continue playing tournaments as possible!

As to what ignited the attention and desire, I’ve always loved having the pressure on me and not relying on others. Playing baseball growing up, I always felt off if I went 5 for 5 and we lost or went 0-fer and we won. As if I couldn’t be happy about my play or I didn’t contribute. In addition I’ve always liked the fact that I can play in solitude or with friends. The diversity of the game and how it is played is paramount to it grabbing my attention. Lastly, I love the competition and camaraderie that comes in golf that differs from other sports.

Andrew Turner

First Assistant Pro

French Creek Golf Club, Elverson, PA

Ultimately, I wanted to become a golf professional because I really wanted to play for a living like the tour pros I saw on TV, especially Fred Couples.

My answer is two-fold:

Ultimately, I wanted to become a golf professional because I really wanted to play for a living like the tour pros I saw on TV, especially Fred Couples.  So, in 2000 I decided to figure out if I could do it.  I went to the Leadbetter Golf Academy here in Naples to ask them to take a look at my swing.  Scott Holden was the instructor there who helped me out over the next couple of years with my entire game.  He selflessly gave his time to help a fellow professional.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have the talent to play for a living, however, the education I received from Scott was invaluable and inspired me to become an instructor which, fortunately, I have been able to do full-time with the David Leadbetter organization for the past 10 years.

The Leadbetter Golf Academy Naples

Gregory Weston

Academy Director

LGA Senior Certified Instructor

David Leadbetter Golf Academy, Naples, FL

My father got me into golf and sparked my love for the game at a young age.

My father got me into golf and sparked my love for the game at a young age. He saw my talent and helped me to excel. My PGA Professional, Richard Hall, also helped craft my game and attitude on and off the course. I learned to really love the game through The First Tee program, where I received valuable golf skills and life skills from Coach Tom Charlton. I am still close with many of my childhood friends from that program, and I continue to believe in and support the mission of The First Tee.

I have also helped with PGA Jr. League for years now and strongly believe in the importance of the team atmosphere as kids get into golf at an early age. I have met countless incredible people through this game, and I want the next generation of golfers to share in all of the great experiences this game can provide.

Benjarong Murray

Assistant Golf Professional

PGA National Golf Club, Palm Beach Gardens, FL

I was inspired by Brent Buckman. Brent has tremendous charisma and I admired his ability to lead.

I was inspired by Brent Buckman. Brent has tremendous charisma and I admired his ability to lead. He was in charge of the opening of Barton Creek, a speculative Club at the time in the Hill Country outside of Austin. I basically bullied my way onto his staff while finishing my degree at The University of Texas. I had a love for the game of golf, but Brent made it a choice for my career by setting an example in delivering service to people. His example resonates with me every day. My days ever since have been filled with finding a career that I have been very blessed to be involved within.

Paul Earnest

PGA Golf Professional

General Manager

The Woodlands Country Club, The Woodlands, TX

Golf was a sport I wanted to participate in because of my friends and watching Arnold Palmer, Billy Casper, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player etc. on TV.

Growing up, my family could not afford to belong to a country club or pay green fees at a public course. Most of my friends belonged to a country club and played golf. Golf was a sport I wanted to participate in because of my friends and watching Arnold Palmer, Billy Casper, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player etc. on TV. There were many less programs on TV then and golf was on every weekend.

At college a fraternity brother played golf. He took me to a semi private club which had a reasonable after 3pm rate and taught me to play. I was hooked. After graduating college with a teaching degree summers were free and I played golf at Briarwood with friends on the weekends. One weekend in 1982 the owner, Bob Blecher, asked me if I was looking for some summer work. I accepted the offer. As Briarwood continued to grow, in 1985 they needed a full time employee. The position was offered and I accepted. By 1988 I had earned PGA membership and became head golf profession. In 2006 the general manager position as offer to me again by Mr. Blecher and again I accepted. This year I am training my replacement and phasing into semi retirement. Golf has been my career for 38 years and the second best decision of my life behind my family !!

Rick Saxon

Advisor - Briarwood Golf Club

GM - Manada Golf Club

York, PA

My brother Les inspirited me to play golf and take up the game. His love for Arnie was impressive and I combated him loving Jack Nicklaus.

My brother Les inspirited me to play golf and take up the game. His love for Arnie was impressive and I combated him loving Jack Nicklaus.

In the 70’s he (Les) was a scratch golfer and golfed every morning after work. Les competed often.

I came home on leave from the Navy in 1975 and Les my brothers Rick and Rich invited me to play a round with him to spend some quality time together. I hadn’t played much, but I was an athlete and could scrap it around. He shot a low 70’s and I shot 90 something. We had a blast!

Enjoying a meal and a beer (or two) afterwards, I made the comment that I was going to kick his butt one day. Les replied, “When you do that, I’ll quit the game”. From that comment, I took away the challenge that I couldn’t beat him not realizing he was serious. It was a challenge I couldn’t resist.

In the early 80’s I came home (Sheboygan, Wisconsin) for my brothers wedding. For that six years I practiced and played routinely when in port and hit balls into a net when at sea and overseas when possible. I had gotten good! Well we went out to play a few days before the wedding and I shot a little 3 or 4 under par beating my inspiration like a drum. Shortly after that he quit never to play again. And it’s now been nearly 40 years. I always blamed myself for this and regretted it for years.

At a huge family reunion, my brother Les now in his 70’s was asked if the reason he quit the game was because I beat him as I recalled and reminded him of our conversation while drinking that beer. He laughed and said no way expounding that he had hurt his shoulder and back at work and was unable to swing a club due to the injury. He never told anyone until that moment, but regretted not being able to play the game he loved so much.

Executive Director North Florida Junior Golf Foundation and TOUR

Jack Aschenbach

Executive Director

North Florida Junior Golf Foundation and TOUR, Jacksonville, FL

One of my neighbors was the Golf Professional at Eastward Ho Country Club, one of the best clubs in New England. John Scheffler had served as Jack Grout’s (Jack Nicklaus Coach) assistant for many years.

I grew up on Cape Cod in the town of Chatham. One of my neighbors was the Golf Professional at Eastward Ho Country Club, one of the best clubs in New England. John Scheffler had served as Jack Grout’s (Jack Nicklaus Coach) assistant for many years. John was a great player and teacher. I was lucky enough to land a job at the club and see all aspects of the golf business at a young age. Watching John Scheffler work at such a beautiful place and interact with people who shared a passion for the game of golf was very infectious to me. Being exposed to this, planted the seed and gave me the desire to pursue a job at a club to interact with a membership in a similar fashion.

Gene Mulak - Silver Spring Country Club

Gene Mulak

Head Golf Professional

Silver Spring Country Club, Ridgefield, CT

Two Parts to the Answer:

1) “Who inspired you to get into golf and ultimately pursue becoming a golf professional?

​Initially I was inspired by watching Tiger Woods as a teenager make golf so exciting. Previously I was a Baseball, Football, and basketball player. Tiger brought energy to the game and before I knew it my parents picked up some old clubs and I was hitting balls in the backyard. While in my previous career, in the army, I would play with buddies on the weekend and found the love for the game again. After getting out of the military, I attended the Golf Academy of America in Orlando. This is where I learned the true art of the game by seasoned PGA Professionals who taught classes such as: Clubmaking, Instruction, Golf Architecture, Rules of Golf, and many others.

2) What was it that grabbed your attention and ignited that desire?

​My first job after graduating from GAA was an Assistant Pro job in Las Vegas. I never thought I wanted to teach the game, but rather focus on daily operations. It was at the first few clinics I hosted I fell in love with watching people learn and get better from instruction. This lead me to a job with the PGA Tour Learning Center as an instructor, and then to my current job as a Franchise Owner/Center Manager with GOLFTEC. There is no better feeling than seeing the gradual improvement of a student over time, and watching their skills sharpen as a student of the game. I know this motivates me to always find new ways to relay techniques and conduct training to better myself. The fire that drives me daily is helping my students become the best golfer they can be, and understanding the game at a higher level.

GOLFTEC Mount Pleasant

Ray Passaro

Franchise Owner

Center Manager

GOLFTEC - Mount Pleasant, Mount Pleasant, SC

I would have to say Matt Stottern, PGA who was the head professional at Blue Lakes Country Club where I was working out of college played the biggest factor.

I had many people that helped in my decision to become a golf professional. My parents were always extremely open minded and supportive of whatever decisions I made. I would have to say Matt Stottern, PGA who was the head professional at Blue Lakes Country Club where I was working out of college played the biggest factor. I was on the fence with going back to school to pursue a 2nd degree and he convinced me I would be a great professional and the rest is history.

As far as what grabbed my attention would be the ability to help people while doing something that I loved. Teaching always intrigued me. I never could have imagined it would grow into what it has now for me but I am forever grateful that I wake up and do something I love everyday!

Canyon Springs Golf Course

Zachary Abels

PGA Golf Professional

Canyon Springs Golf Course, Twin Falls, ID

when you’re ten years old, it’s funny what can influence you....

When I was ten years old I followed my father to the golf course one weekend.
Although I didn’t play golf, I enjoyed being outdoors and doing things by myself. While waiting for my dad to finish his round the head pro asked me if I’d like to make some money? Not wanting to miss an opportunity he handed me a shag bag and pointed to a field with golf balls scattered across it. “Pick up all those balls and I’ll pay you…” he said. I enjoyed picking up all those balls, making up little games as I went along. When I was finished I brought all the balls back to the pro shop and the head pro reached into his front pocket and proceeded to pull out the largest wad of bills I had even seen in my life! It must have been a million dollars!! (Remember, I’m ten…) He peeled off a fiver and handed it to me. OMG, now I’m rich too! That was my first day of working at The Rail Golf Club. I worked there until I left for college eight years later.

The head pros changed but they all carried their money in their front pocket with a money clip or rubber band. It may sound petty but that is what drew my into wanting to be a golf pro. I wanted to have a million dollars in my front pocket. As I grew up and matured I realized that wasn’t what being a success is all about but when you’re ten years old, it’s funny what can influence you….

JC Anderson

Director of Instruction

The Club At The Strand, Naples, FL

The integrity and personal skills of the local PGA professionals drew me towards the golf profession.

The integrity and personal skills of the local PGA professionals drew me towards the golf profession. Being involved with the greatest game of all has been a treat.

Frederick Elliott

PGA Teaching Professional

NCPGA professional of the year 2006

Hidden Valley Country Club, Reno, NV

I grew up on the golf course with my dad being the golf professional that taught me to play and to enjoy the game.

My dad inspired me to play and excel at golf. I grew up on the golf course with my dad being the golf professional that taught me to play and to enjoy the game. Later on leading to ownership of a golf course. As I became a better player members at our course would ask me for advice. I was willing to give it and help people enjoy the game as I do. They started having success with some of the tips I was giving. It led to many people thanking me and wanting to take lessons from me. In 2013, I was named the Head Professional and took on the task of teaching all lessons at the facility until I moved in 2018.

Get A Grip Golf Performance

Austin Pulczinski

Lead Instructor

Get A Grip Golf Performance , Mesa, Arizona

I was inspired to get into the business by the first PGA Professional I ever worked for, Don Vallario.

I was inspired to get into the business by the first PGA Professional I ever worked for, Don Vallario. He was the PGA Head Professional at Spring Brook Country Club for over 31 years. I saw how well respected he was by the members and staff, how he handled himself in difficult situations, and how the members turned to him for advice or assistance.

I saw the relationships that he forged with the members, staff, etc. at the club and how I wanted to be like that when I grew up. I saw that Don treated everyone the same, whether you were a member, guest, child of a member, or employee. That is a guidling principle I have carried into my own operation.

Tony Santillo - Spring Brook Country Club

Tony Santillo

PGA Head Professional

Spring Brook Country Club, Morristown, NJ

My father was the one who inspired me to start playing golf at just 3 years old.

My father was the one who inspired me to start playing golf at just 3 years old. He has played his whole life, and wanted to introduce me to it. Originally, I went to college to become a pilot. However, after two years I decided that wasn’t what I wanted to do anymore and chose to pursue a career in golf. I decided to do this because I was always trying to improve my own game, and wanted to try and help many other golfers as much as I could. My goal every day is wanting every golfer to become the very best they can.

Anthony Fiorenza, PGA Golf Professional

Anthony Fiorenza

Assistant Golf Professional

Terrace Park Country Club, Milford, Ohio

I fell in love with golf when I fell out of love with football.

I fell in love with golf when I fell out of love with football. My sister’s boyfriend at the time, who was a good player, took me out one day and I caught the bug. I was fortunate enough to get a “no pay” job cleaning restrooms at my local public course and was given full golf privileges and a locker. My local PGA Professional’s was Don Bisesi at Helfrich Hills Golf Course in Evansville, Indiana. Don was a big personality who gave me an avenue to play without spending more money than myself or parents had to spend. He was great about giving the kids he knew would work hard an opportunity to play without actually “giving” them free golf. He made you work.

The shanks, believe it or not, inspired me to “either learn about the swing or quit” when I was a junior in high school. I had a bad case of hitting it in the hosel and knew I couldn’t punch 5 woods for the rest of my life. I started to research and work on the game and became a decent college player, and then a PGA Professional. I have remembered to this day the opportunity I was given and try to do the same with kids today…but they need to expect to work at it!

Tom Nelson, PGA GM/Head Golf Professional Christmas Lake Golf Course Santa Claus, Indiana

Thomas Nelson

GM/Head Golf Professional

Christmas Lake Golf Course, Santa Claus, IN

A few people inspired me to get into the game of golf...

A few people inspired me to get into the game of golf, personally my dad and my pap got me into actually playing the game of my freshman year of high school. Professionally Tiger Woods made the game of golf fun to watch and ultimately made me want to play the game. After my freshman year of high school, which I was terrible by the way, I fell in love with the game and became obsessed with the game and the entire industry. I’ve been playing and working in the industry ever since!

Nathan Baadte

PGA Golf Professional

General Manager

Honey Run Golf Club, York, PA

My dad and brother were my biggest inspirations in getting involved with golf.

My dad and brother were my biggest inspirations in getting involved with golf. I grew up playing ice hockey. When my family moved from Massachusetts to North Carolina, hockey wasn’t so good and we lived in a residential golf community. My dad and brother would go to the golf course frequently and I began to join in. I quickly made the transition from the ice to the fairway and was bitten by the golf bug.

After graduating from college and not enjoying my first initial job, I was able to land a caddying gig with James Hahn. Our first tournament together on the Web.com Tour ended in a two hole playoff and we were victorious. It was at this point that I realized I loved being at the course. Following this I applied for my first position in the golf industry and began working as a bag drop attendant. The rest is history. Golf has provided me the opportunity to meet so many unique and successful people, and travel to some very fun places. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.

Matt Lawson - The Country Club of Virginia

Matthew Lawson

Assistant Golf Professional

The Country Club of Virginia, Richmond, VA

What really grabbed my attention that drew me to the game... was that every golf course is different, beautiful, and challenging in its own way!

I had some family in the golf business on Hilton Head, and college wasn’t working out for me at the time so I moved to Hilton Head. What really grabbed my attention that drew me to the game ( not growing up playing golf, I played football,baseball, and basketball), was that every golf course is different, beautiful, and challenging in its own way! i.e. playing golf in Scotland, Arizona, the mountains of North Carolina, and of course on Kiawah Island are all special experiences!

Also you can play golf for your whole life. Most other sports even if you are the best in the world your career playing life ends at 22 yrs old (college). Not too many pick up Football, Baseball, Basketball, Lacrosse,etc. games out there, and I have never heard of taking a family vacation at a World Famous Volleyball (insert almost any other sport here) resort.

James Butcher

PGA Director of Golf Fitness

Kiawah Island Club - River Course, Kiawah Island, SC

My Uncle Don is the one who got me into the game.

My Uncle Don is the one who got me into the game. My parents never played but it was my uncle that would take me golfing all the time and ignited that interest in playing the game. It was the challenge of the game and also the opportunity to spend time with and compete with myself and with good friends.
After becoming a college coach, I knew I still needed to learn and grow as a golf professional. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with and learn from Steve Mulcahy at Shawnee Country Club in Lima, Ohio. I learned so much from Steve about how to be a golf professional but more importantly how to manage and lead a group of people.
Nate Miklos, PGA Head Women's Golf Coach Youngstown State University

Nathan Miklos

Head Women's Golf Coach

Youngstown State University, Youngstown, OH

I fell in love with the game at age 10, mostly through the influence of my parents, who both played the game.

I fell in love with the game at age 10, mostly through the influence of my parents, who both played the game. I have worked at a golf course every year for the last 55 years. I played many mini tour events, and tried to qualify for the PGA tour seven times. Never quite reaching that dream, I decided to become a PGA club Professional.

Three great mentors helped me along the way, Harry McCarthy, then head golf professional at Balboa Park, San Diego, Tony Novitsky, then head golf pro at Columbine Country Club, Littleton, Colorado, and finally, Ben Doyle, then teaching professional at Quail Lodge CC in Carmel, California. I have followed their example closely, and they were great influencers in where I am today.

Head Golf Professional Eaton Country Club

Rick Cole

PGA Golf Professional

Head Golf Professional

Eaton Country Club, Eaton, CO

Golf has been a part of my life since I was 15 years old. I was introduced by my dad and fell in love immediately with the game.

Golf has been a part of my life since I was 15 years old. I was introduced by my dad and fell in love immediately with the game. Was fortunate enough to play collegiate golf and during my last semester of college I did an internship at the first tee in Houston TX and ever since then I knew this is what I was going to do for the rest of my life. To see how this game has provided so many opportunities for kids in many different ways is very satisfying to be part of.

1st Assistant PGA Golf Professional. Walden on Lake Conroe

Alessandra Maurtua

1st Assistant PGA Golf Professional

Walden on Lake Conroe, Montgomery, TX

Growing up outside of Buffalo, New York, I was inspired by PGA Master Professional Steve Carney to make golf a career and enter the PGA PGM program at Methodist University.

Growing up outside of Buffalo, New York, I was inspired by PGA Master Professional Steve Carney to make golf a career and enter the PGA PGM program at Methodist University. Steve Carney taught me that there are many ways in the golf business to be creative and make money. I liked that the industry had a lot of different avenues and ways to influence the game.

Picking golf as a career was easy because I never felt like I was going to work when going to a golf course. I loved the idea of wearing many hats and being involved with people on a day to day basis to enhance the golf experience. I loved that my career would allow me to play golf competitively and also have the opportunity to help others with their golf games through instruction.

I’m thankful every day that my mom took me to Saturday junior clinics to learn the game and meet Steve Carney.

Certified PGA professional in Golf Operations - Title: Head Golf Professional - Course or Golf Business Name: Philadelphia Country Club - City, State: Gladwyne, PA

Scott Reilly

Certified PGA professional in Golf Operations

Head Golf Professional

Philadelphia Country Club, Gladwyne, PA

I got into the golf business by playing golf at an early age and falling it love with every aspect of the game.

I got into the golf business by playing golf at an early age and falling it love with every aspect of the game. It has taught me so much in life about how to be a good professional and about people and myself in general.

Tyler Collet

PGA Assistant Golf Professional

John's Island Club, Vero Beach, FL

My grandfather got me into the game of golf.

My grandfather got me into the game of golf. As a city kid in the late 70’s it was never really an option for me. He asked me to take lessons, bought me clubs and said “golf is a great game to meet people, it could help you in the business world, you just never know where this game will take you”. I played sparingly in High School (as I played other sports) and then tried out and made my college golf team. I was hooked.

Anthony Martinho

Head Golf Professional

Four Oaks Country Club, Dracut, MA

My stepdad introduced me to golf around age 10. He grew up playing golf, and still plays now.

My stepdad introduced me to golf around age 10. He grew up playing golf, and still plays now. He worked with me until about age 13 and then once I reached a certain level, he began taking me to see a local PGA Professional, Brad Westfall. I worked with Brad until about age 15-16. Those two guys were the reason I went on to play high school and college golf.

After college, I began working at Clarksburg Country Club, with PGA Member Fred Swisher. Fred was a great mentor and was the main person who helped me get into the PGA of America as an Apprentice in 2003-2004. I still speak with Fred from time to time now.

Jason Robinson

Head Golf Professional

Wheeling Country Club, Wheeling, WV