PGA Professional, Director of Golf
Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa
THE DAVIS STORY:
I owe my love of golf to my brother. In 1982 my big brother introduced me to golf when I was 10 years old. He was an attendant at a golf course in Lafayette, Louisiana, where we grew up. He brought me to the course and said, “this is what you’re going to do for the rest of your life.” And, he was right. I fell in love with golf, played in Juniors, college, professionally, and became a Class A PGA Pro.
Describe the health of the golf industry today — from your local perspective?
Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa is experiencing a healthy and stable golf environment and foresees consistent growth in the near future. Like our course designs, natural hills and valleys occur, but as a golf destination, Eagle Ridge Resort in The Galena Territory has gracefully made it through the turbulent times the industry faced together a decade ago.
How much and how effective do groups such as the PGA of America really listen to what is facing professionals like yourself in the field?
On a section level the PGA of America is very receptive to hear ideas and help the PGA professionals in any way they can. Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa partners with the local PGA section to have an Illinois PGA Section major and they value our input on policy with tournaments. If we had to provide constructive critique on where the national PGA could be more effective, it would be on enhancing PGA education systems and player development.
What separates Eagle Ridge from what your fellow competitors in the resort category are doing?
Our partnerships with Touchstone Golf and Bricton Hotels has been an ace in the hole for Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa. Since Touchstone and Bricton took over in 2013, the resort and courses have had consistent growth and improvement including course redesigns to enhance playability, resort room renovations, and new golf cart fleets to name a few.
What lessons did you and Eagle Ridge as a facility learn following The Great Recession in ’07-’09?
After the recession, Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa fine-tuned how to differentiate our four courses with consistent quality marketing, the right price, and the best product. We implemented a “no room for mistakes” attitude.
Customer service is regularly touted by those in the golf industry. Define the term and the approach you take?
Our goal is to exceed our golfers, expectations from the time they drive up to the course to the time they leave. If we make the golfer happy, everything else falls in place.
The major golf organizations — USGA, R&A, PGA of America, PGA TOUR and LPGA — are all seeking ways to attract new players to the game such as Millennials, women and minorities. If you were counseling them what would you advise be done?
Don’t be afraid to reach out. Reaching out to Millennials, Centennials, women, and minorities, brings magic to the game. Golf brings people together. In the 1980’s, I was proud to be part of the first African American player development programs in my home state of Louisiana.
How much time do you spend in the office versus being outdoors — either interacting with customers, teaching or playing the game?
With Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa’s 3 ½ courses and 100 golf employees, I have looked at a few spreadsheets in my day. I play one of our four courses at least once a week. Every chance I get I am out on the courses or at the club houses meeting and greeting our players, and when I am not doing that I hold regular golf clinics with our members to show them new products or talk about course management and new rules. There is always something to talk about and I want our golfers to be up to speed as much as possible.
f you could change one thing in golf unilaterally what would it be?
If the golf industry is going to retain the next wave of anticipated golfers, the industry needs to look at cost savings solutions. The industry will have to continue to innovate golf courses and equipment for the chance of reducing costs of playing the game. We introduced Footgolf on Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa’s nine-hole East Course and have seen incredible enthusiasm for this affordable golf experience.
You’ve got one final round of golf to play — what course would you choose and what three golfers join you in your foursome?
Without question it would be Cypress Point in Carmel, CA, with Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Bobby Jones, and Seve Ballesteros in their prime. I realize that makes 5 of us but I would be happy sitting in the cart to watch those four legends play together.
Best golf advice you ever received — what was it and who from?
The best golf advice I have ever received was from Claude Harmon’s son, Dave Harmon. Claude won the 1948 Masters. This story is pretty funny. As a young pro I hung out with Dave Harmon. Dave told me the story that every time his Dad visited his pro shop, his father would grab a pair of socks off the rack without him knowing. From time to time Dave’s pro shop inventory turned up short after Claude’s visits to see his son. Dave figured it out and confronted his Dad. Claude replied, “Son don’t sweat the small things. Keep your eyes on the big picture, that is the lesson.” Best golf and life advice I’ve ever received. Turns out years later when Claude Harmon passed away, Dave and his family found about 100 pairs of unopened golf socks in Claude’s closet. Each pair a reminder to not sweat the small stuff.
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