New General Manager and CPGA Professional at Whitewater Golf Club
by Scott A. Sumner
Whitewater Golf Club has a new general manager and golf professional, meet Rob Larocque. The 36 year old comes from the Toronto area where he was head professional for the last 10 years at Glenway Country Club. The golf enthusiast is upbeat about his new position. "Can you tell. This is the most excited I've been in a long time. I'm a pretty upbeat excitable guy to start with but the challenge and the fun that this place will bring is going to be phenomenal." smiles Rob Larocque.
Rob Larocque is a Northwestern Ontario boy who was born in Fort Frances, and went to high school in Dryden. His family bought a golf course in Exeter, Ontario just outside of London where they ran a family 9 hole golf course. Larocque went to school at Mexico State on a golf scholarship. "I started golfing when I was 11, just to get to the fishing hole in Pinnewa, Manitoba as the course was on the way," smiles Rob Larocque. "I played as a junior in Fort Frances and was at Mexico State for two years before coming home and turning pro. I studied math and physics and now I'm counting bogies and pars."
Larocque has been a class A golf pro for 10 years. He did have a sponsor and played some mini tours like the desert tour in Palm Springs and a number of Canadian Tour events while still working at a golf club. The golf professional just missed qualifying for a Canadian Open one year by a shot.
"Almost, woulda, coulda," laughs Larocque. "My first job was in the back shop slugging bags and cleaning clubs in the family owned Exetor Golf Course just outside of London. I was an assistant golf professional at Emerald Hills Golf Club in Toronto for four years, at Beacon Hall for 2 years and then Glenway Country club for 10 years. Working at a golf course is all I've ever done." Glenway Country Club is a private golf facility that has golf, tennis, squash and fitness with 3000 members including 450 adult golfers and 120 juniors. The iniation fees are $5000 with annual dues at $3000. It held the 1992 Ontario Open and is a full championship golf course designed by Doug Carrick.
"I have an aunt and uncle that live in Thunder Bay and they told me about Whitewater. I got wind of the opportunity from the KPMG Golf division, as I've known them for awhile. It happened real fast. I talked to Silvio and the next thing you know I was on a plane to come here and see it," says Larocque. "10 days later they offered me the job and 14 days after that I was in the car coming here."
The course is strong. Knowing Tom McBroom it looks like a very traditional layout where you can stand up on each tee and tell what the architect is trying to make you hit. There are not many golf courses that have that sort of shape and framing they were able to have here at Whitewater with this piece of property. It is a solid, strong, traditional design." states Larocque.
Rob Larocque is a family man with his wife Robin and 3 girls aged 6, 9 and 12. They will come to Thunder Bay when the school year is over. How is the golf game of Rob Larocque. "How good do I have to be," laughs Larocque. "I like to make sure my game is strong enough that I can keep my competitive juices flowing, so you can hit the shot that you see. I will play as much as I can. I'll be on the course with the members, supporting the corporate event planning as well as doing some clinics, helping out our golf school and making sure the entire facility runs well."
"We have have a food and beverage manager, a chef and Jeff Parker is golf superintendent. Right now we are looking at our golf academy and are hoping to have Jim Jamieson back. How many guys that you meet have finished in the top three at the Masters."
"My goal is to make sure that the service levels at Whitewater are very strong from the moment you walk in the gate to the moment you leave. First impressions are last impressions and are a big deal. All the details and the things that go into creating a great golf experience including food, beverage, dining, corporate and bartending. It's all important," says Larocque. "It is a little unique having members and daily golfers, but it has been done before. It is an interesting dynamic, actually really nice to have 250 members here that are ambassadors of the facility. I think the golf club will help the King George community as well as Thunder Bay in general." What does Rob Larocque do for relaxation. "I'm very fortunate in that my stress relieve and my job are on the same property. I like to play golf and hit golf balls. Yesterday I went out and hit golf balls after a long day at the club. My down time is family and golf. It will be an all year job." smiles Rob Larocque.