Grace, Class and Professionalism Sum Up Clayton Cole
The Noble Chalfant Award is presented to PGA Professionals for their distinguished service to the Colorado Section of the PGA. Fitting of this description is one of this year’s recipients, Clayton Cole.
When asked what receiving this award means to him, Cole stated, “The Nobel Chalfant means a lot to me because it recognizes lifetime distinction. To have the opportunity to watch past Assistant Professionals do so well once they got their opportunity as a Head Professional has been exciting and enforces for me that the training in management, operations, discipline and culture made a difference.”
The most telling aspect of Cole's career is the manner in which he dealt with the daunting assignment of taking over the reins from the most legendary golf professional in Colorado history, Warren Smith. It has been said that Cole handled his new responsibilities with grace, class and professionalism. These three words pretty much sum up Cole.
Cole was born in Vicksburg, Miss., and went on to a successful collegiate career at the University of Houston. In 1970, he was elected to membership in the PGA of America, thus beginning an illustrious career as one of the finest players, teachers and administrators in Colorado golf history.
Cole began as an assistant golf professional in 1970 at Cherry Hills Country Club after a brief stint on the PGA Tour. He was named the head professional at Dallas Country Club in 1974 where he remained for 12 years. He moved to Austin in 1986 to become Director of Golf/ Vice President of Operations at the Lakeway Company and then returned to Cherry Hills Country Club in 1991 as Head Golf Professional.
Upon entering semi-retirement after 17 years at Cherry Hills, Cole was given an honorary membership at Cherry Hills and became just the fifth person presented a Red Jacket, joining Dwight Eisenhower, Arnold Palmer, Jay Sigel and Smith. But his contributions to Cherry Hills did not end.
“I still want to be helpful to the membership at the club where I can so I have been on the Grounds Committee for the past six years,” said Cole. “It allows me additional participation in the golf industry and it is enjoyable.”
Throughout Clayton's career he has played a leadership role with the PGA Sections in the states he has lived, serving on the board of both the North Texas and Colorado PGA Sections. Clayton's playing record includes participation in 12 national championships – the U.S. Open, PGA Championship, U.S. Senior Open and PGA Senior Championship, as well as the U.S. Amateur.
Cole has made significant contributions to the game throughout his 38-year career. His peers have recognized him for his outstanding involvement in developing and improving education and employment opportunities for golf professionals in Colorado. During his tenure as a head professional, Cole has trained and mentored 11 assistants that have gone on to become Head Professionals at some of the top 100 clubs in the country. Cole is so highly regarded for his mentoring of fellow PGA professionals that in 2009, he became the first member of the Colorado PGA to receive the National Bill Strausbaugh Award, which is given by the PGA of America for exemplary mentoring.
“I am a believer in the proficiencies learned through the Model Netics Management Course,” confides Cole. “I believe this course afforded my assistants like Joe Assel and John Ogden with the tools to be successful in their professional, as well as their personal lives.”
Cole has won a number of section and national awards throughout his career. Awards include Northern Texas PGA Professional of the Year, Colorado PGA Section Senior Player of the Year, Colorado Merchandiser of the Year, Colorado PGA Horton Smith Award, Colorado PGA Bill Strausbaugh Award, Colorado PGA Warren Smith Award, CGA President’s Award and Golf World’s “100 Best Golf Shops.” In 2003, Cole was elected into the Colorado Hall of Fame.
It seems that Cole is always focused on looking forward stating that he is most excited about the future opportunities that exist in the Colorado Section because of the joint efforts of the Colorado PGA and the Colorado Golf Association. The two organizations support each other and share goals that lead in the same direction.
“We are funding things in all areas of golf that will make a difference for the youth,” concluded Cole. “It is extremely meaningful to introduce golf to young people because if they get the bug as a junior, they will continue to come back to play for a life time.”