Novel start was no problem for pros at Pelican Sound Golf & River Club
The classic scenario is repeated in countless enterprises including golf club operations:
A director or head pro that knows every aspect of a facility via years of being there brings in a younger assistant pro to begin sharing responsibilities and nurturing his or her career.
These roles were somewhat inverted initially at the Pelican Sound Golf & River Club in Estero.
Kurt Stegle started as senior staff clerk in the pro shop in January 2013 soon after graduating from the FGCU PGA Golf Management program, became second assistant golf pro, and then in September 2014, first assistant.
At that time, Tim Harris was the head pro at the Vasari Golf Club in North Naples. In July, the head pro position opened up at Pelican Sound and Harris accepted it in late August.
“Kurt was really the interim head pro, helped bridge the gap,” recalled Harris. “He also helped me during my first couple of months as I learned the ropes. I’d been with other bundled communities so I knew what to expect but I wasn’t accustomed to the volume of members and scale of play” on three, separate, nine-hole courses — Sound, River and Lakes — that utilizes a rotating, triple-crossover system.
Stegle, who’ll turn 27 next month, especially likes the Lakes.
“It’s a little more traditional. I’m from the northeast so it has that feel.”
He sees the par four No. 9 as “kind of a signature hole. You have to think your way through. It has doglegs and up to two water areas to hit over depending on tee spot and how you want to play it.”
They are supervising the current re-grassing of the courses — TifEagle on the greens and Celebration Bermudagrass everywhere else — that’s expected to be done by the end of October. They are also hoping to add another set of tees, especially suited for beginners, plus make improvements in the driving range operations.
“We’d like to make the range more private yet also more conducive for group clinics,” said Harris.
Stegle helped out with his third Rally for the Cure last March, the club’s largest annual fundraising tournament.
“It’s amazing how many people participate. We have to turn some away each year,” he said of the two, separate, 180-person scrambles that were recently arranged.
Last April, the club conducted its inaugural tennis and golf program for adults.
Tennis director Frank Fourgeau ran a round robin for 36 participants with each duo earning points that were then carried over to the fairways.
“It went very well. We expect to do it again next season,” said Harris, adding that a holiday junior golf-tennis camp is also expected to return in December.
“It’s kind of rare to combine both sports. It was fun for members,” added Stegle.
Stegle points to two elements of the FGCU program that he found especially beneficial — internships, in his case, at the Palm Magnolia at Disney in Orlando, the PGA National in Palm Beach and a private club in Fort Lauderdale. And what was shared by adjunct professors as “many are directors and head pros with extensive experiences, especially on the teaching and business sides.”
Harris attended a golf pro training program at Stonebridge Country Club in Naples, and then became assistant pro at Vasari in 2002.
Harris plans to get Kurt “more involved in budgeting and other business and operations aspects; he already does payroll and was doing some of it earlier. I was always comfortable with him and even more so now.”
Stegle added, “The longer I’m with him, I’m picking up more great ways of presenting ideas in teaching.”
The duo looks forward to playing some tournaments together this summer including at Hammock Bay Golf & Country Club in Naples, June 17, and at Bear’s Club and Lost Tree Club, Aug. 24 and 25, in Jupiter.
Beyond the gates
Ed Weber, formerly director of golf and general manager, Raptor Bay Golf Club, is now general manager of Colony Golf & Country Club, Bonita Springs ... Dan Gawronski was recently promoted from PGA assistant pro to head pro at Pelican’s Nest Golf Club, Bonita Springs ... The 10th annual Inter-Club Challenge golf tournament at Bonita Bay Club Naples, May 5, raised $58,000-plus for the Immokalee Foundation.