Ben Welsh, PGA, Head Professional at Frost Creek in Eagle, Colorado, has been selected as the 2020 Colorado PGA Golf Professional of the Year. This honor is awarded by the Colorado PGA to a member for their overall performance including leadership, service and promotion of the game of golf.
Recognizing the incredible amount of passion, time and energy spent in the golf career and his admiration, respect and friendship he has with previous award winners, Welsh comments on how he felt being named as this year’s award recipient. “This is a huge honor for me in the fact that it stems from service to the Association. It is always humbling to be recognized by any award, but with this award in particular, it is nice to be put in the same category with my mentors.”
Welsh was born and raised in Fort Collins and started playing golf with his dad when he was about eight years old. The two of them would have their “father-son time” early in the morning and on their way to school, playing nine holes together. Then, at age 13, he started working at the City Park Nine driving range in Fort Collins to get a golf pass.
Service and safety have been an interest to Welsh for as long as he can remember. In high school, when students were trying to figure out life and their future careers, he considered the noble service of a police officer. Focusing on a positive environment and helping people have fun has proven to be a good rewarding career choice.
Playing golf is a big part of being a PGA Golf Professional. Welsh commented that he did not make the high school golf team but worked hard and tried to walk-on at Colorado State. He learned early that the playing competition could be stiff but he recognized that he enjoyed the business and operations of the game just as much. Welsh says, “The art of teaching, coaching and connecting with people and growing the game meant more to me than being a good player.”
Welsh recalls his grandfather saying, “Figure out what you like to do and then find a way to make money doing it.” For him, that has been a career in golf. Welsh loves the feeling he had as a child that golf was a safe and fun place. As an adult, he feels that proves to still be true and now gets to provide that supportive and positive environment for others.
Welsh loves learning and views his education as professional development and uses it to serve the Association. This is proven true as he is the 2018 Horton Smith Award winner, now known as the Professional Development Award. Welsh also won the West Chapter Horton Smith Award in 2012 and 2013. His love to learn has propelled him to complete three of the Certified Professional Certificates: Golf Operations, General Management and Teaching and Coaching. He is also one of the few to attain the status of PGA Master Professional in General Management.
Welsh’s dad not only introduced him to golf but was also a Rotarian. Being the son of a Rotarian, Welsh was raised under the motto of the Rotary, “Service Above Self.” This provided a foundation that he brought into the Colorado PGA as he has served on many levels. In 2000, Welsh started serving with the Assistant’s Association. He was volunteering to put on tournaments and soon became the Vice President and later the President of that Association. During those times of volunteering, he realized that he had the capabilities to be organized, manage projects and help coordinate decision making. In addition to his abilities, he truly loved it. The love for service, leadership and networking motivated him to run for the Colorado PGA Section Board of Directors to which he was elected in 2010. He continued his service when he was elected as a Section Officer in 2014.
When asked about his proudest moments as a Golf Professional, Welsh said he was proud to help create the First Tee of Eagle County. He was part of a team that worked to create incredible programming, which included their own in-school golf programs and their own player’s league. Many opportunities were created for kids in the Vail Valley that were not there previously. Growing the game includes mentoring, and over the years, Welsh has worked with 40 interns in 15 years from the PGM Universities. Seven people who he has mentored are now Head Professionals. This includes his time at Eagle Vail Golf Club and now at Frost Creek.
Welsh received this advice from one of his mentors, Dale Smigelsky, PGA, “Every job is the right place, right time opportunity. It is your job to be ready.”
Welsh sees himself as that kid who grew up on the little nine-hole course but he worked hard and found his way to wider fairways. His education, networking and service to the Section helped put him in the right circles at the right time to have opportunities, to which he now has one of the greatest jobs he could have imagined. Welsh recommends being intentional. “If you can learn, grow and be involved, then you can advance.”
Commenting on leadership, mentorship and service, Welsh wanted to be sure to recognize and thank Eddie Ainsworth, PGA, for his leadership and organization. “We are extremely lucky to have an Executive Director and CEO that thinks the way he does and gives credit where it is due.”
As for appreciation and gratitude for the Colorado PGA, Welsh feels incredibly proud to be a part of the Colorado PGA Section, the history in it and the reputation of it. “I hope we continue forward in our mission to serve the member and grow the game. If we can keep our eyes on supporting the game that supports us all, we will be successful,” says Welsh. “I want to make sure that the Colorado PGA continues to be the leader of the game in Colorado.”