New Director Of Golf At Whitew

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New Director Of Golf At Whitewater Golf Club

 

by Scott A. Sumner
www.golfingnews.ca

    When you walk into the pro shop at the Whitewater Golf Club in Thunder Bay this season you will likely be greeted with the broad smile of new Director of Golf Operations, Matt Simmons. The tall, congenial Sudbury native is a people person and it won't take long to find that
out. I did in our two meetings in early April with Matt fresh on the job and in the city from his last position of Director of Golf Operations at Riverbend Golf in London, Ontario.

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    Matt was born and raised in Sudbury, Ontario where  he grew up on a little 9 hole golf course and used to bike to the golf course every day. “ I started playing with my parents when I was 8 years old.  There are three sisters in our family but they never got into the game but I had a great time spending time on the golf course with my parents learning golf,” smiled Matt Simmons.   “ My first aspirations were playing the game as a touring professional as I was a pretty good golfer as a junior, winning a lot in the Sudbury area and my age groups
all the time. It is a different level to play the game professionally though and by the time I turned 18 I realized  to do something in the game it would have to be from the club end-  teaching the game, running the golf shop and the like.”
     This was foreign to Matt as he grew up on a 9 hole golf course, Chelmsford Golf Club, that was too small to have a professional.  Since his days growing up a childhood friend has taken over the course and it is now 18 holes with a beautiful club house. When Matt turned 19 he
felt  he would have to move away to begin his golf career and got a first job  at the prestigious St. George’s in Toronto as  back shop service manager. “ St George’s was the number 1 course in Canada at that time, very private  and very high end.  It was a beautiful experience  and I  loved the golf course and the people. It set my mind into a different wavelength as to what service is around a golf course because there it was a very high, consistent level of service,”  noted Matt. “ Being a small town  boy I couldn’t handle Toronto so I came home to Sudbury and began working first at Lively Golf Club and then Idlewylde under an incredible golf professional Carl Vanstone, one of my strongest mentors. I worked here for six years as an associate and
learned a considerable amount. He retired and had me send off my resume to Mike Silver at Highland Country Club, a beautiful private club in the City of London. I worked  there for 9 years and learned more from Mike Silver than anyone out there. He is one of the few Master
Professionals in the country reaching the highest pinnacle in our profession. Mike was very strong in the retail side of things and I learned how to act as a professional.”

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     Matt went from Highland  to Riverbend Golf Community, designed by  Doug Carrick, a new concept for Canada- a Florida style gated community for those 50 and over. This was a fabulous experience to be part of an new golf club and watch them be a success, setting up programs and so on according to Matt.  After several years there Matt felt the call of
the North. “ It is a long way from London, Ontario to Thunder Bay and my kids still live in London but growing up in the North I knew it was such a friendly place to be with more people smiling. I am a smiler myself,” laughed Matt.  “ I was looking for a change and saw this posting on my association’s website. When I read through the position I had a good feeling so I sent my resume off, got called the next day and came up and met with Silvio. Coming up, driving through the community, walking through the golf clubhouse, meeting the management staff in
place and seeing the organization that owns the facility it just built on the good feeling I already had. It was very comfortable feeling to come up here and an easy move from many stand points. My kids are 20 and 21 and they are on to their own lives now.”
    “ My feeling of a golf club is always to make people really comfortable, really at home and really want to be around the golf club. To make it a place where it is their little oasis, away from work and the troubles of the world. If the golf game doesn't quite work out I can help ease some of those frustrations,” noted Matt.  “ They structured the position to allow me to come up and be the golf professional. I will be working out of the golf shop making sure that all golf services are in great shape, playing with the membership, giving lessons to the membership, doing club fitting  and developing strong lesson programs. I am looking forward to meeting everyone and getting going. I am people person so I need the people to come. I am
sure in the odd time they might have me serve a couple of drinks, but what they have done is split the position of general management into golf and the food and beverage end.”
    Last year  the 43 year old golf professional played 30 - 18’s  and a lot of 9’s on top of that and feels it is important to get out and play with the members golfers and develop those relationships. “ It might not be 18 all the time but there is a lot of business done out on golf
courses in the world and I am in the golf business. People are comfortable on the golf course and where else can you get 2 to 4 hours to spend with someone and really get to know what they are about and for them to get to know what you are about,” smiled Matt. “ I don’t
want to give the impression that all I will do is play golf. I have to fit that into my own time but getting out a couple times of week is a great thing.”
    “ When I looked  over the web site and saw the designer and the quality of golf course that was put up here it really gave me a comfortable feeling. To know that this is available for the public to come out and play is amazing. Just letting some of my friends and colleagues that live down south  know what is up here meant they are anxious to fly up and see what is it all about,” noted Matt. “ People want to travel to play golf and this is an experience that they can’t
get anywhere else. It is stunning to see the forest, mountains and the river. It really is quite nice and such an amazing landscape here in Thunder Bay. I am looking forward to seeing it in green.”
    “ One of the people I had a long chat with before taking on the position is Alan Mclean, a touring professional that plays the European Tour, married a Thunder Bay women and played out of Whitewater. It had so much good to say about Thunder Bay and Whitewater. He is now based out of London  because of all his travel. It was more of a business move and I was his contact and helped him to be the touring profession at Riverbend where he lives just outside the community and plays as his home course. It was a nice connection that helped make my move to Whitewater very easy.” smiled Matt Simmons.



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