This is not the first time Jeff Hanson, PGA, Director of Golf at Red Sky Golf Club, has been awarded the Resort Merchandiser of the Year Award. He and his Red Sky team were also the recipients of this award in 2013, 2007, 2005 and 2004.
“Any time you are recognized by your peers is really an honor,” says Hanson. “However, this award is a complete team effort and it’s great recognition for all the work they do to affect the success of our golf shops.”
Although Hanson was born in Denver, he grew up in Cheyenne, Wyoming, playing golf at Cheyenne Country Club. He and his buddies, carrying their bags, played non-stop golf during the summers. He was also able to experience tremendous success by winning the Wyoming State Amateur, State Junior, the State Match Play and the State High School Championship. These accomplishments got him a number of offers to play Division 1 College Golf but, in the end, he accepted a scholarship to play at the University of Wyoming. The goal at the time was for Hanson to take over his dad’s title insurance business upon graduating from college so he stayed in state to further develop the relationships that would assist him in the endeavor.
“After graduation I just didn’t have the desire to move into my father’s line of business,” shares Hanson, “so I moved back to Denver. I contacted Myron Craig, the Colorado PGA Executive Director and was told that the only position available in the Section for that spring was at Columbine Country Club. I owe Columbine a lot for giving me my first opportunity to get started in the golf business.”
From there, Hanson moved to Glenmoor Country Club for a few years, spent a season at Valley Country Club before returning to Glenmoor in his first Head Professional position. He then transitioned to Cherry Hills Country Club as an Assistant Professional during both Bronco Super Bowl victory seasons!
“Cherry Hills was probably the best move of my life as it was an opportunity to develop the connections and the relationships that enabled me to get hired as the Director of Golf at Beaver Creek Golf Club and ultimately, the move to Red Sky,” communicates Hanson. “Clayton Cole is certainly the most influential person in my career!”
Hanson has been the Director of Golf at Red Sky from the beginning helping develop the club from top to bottom. He was instrumental in designing the Red Sky Golf Academy, working with the Fazio and Norman teams during construction, selling memberships and developing the marketing plan, and helping with design and implementation of both clubhouses. In 2002, the Fazio Course opened followed the next season by the Norman course. Jeff will enter his eighteenth season with the club next year.
“It has been an amazing ride for me here at Red Sky,” concludes Hanson. “We have an exceptional team that delivers experiences of a lifetime. We face many of the same challenges the other mountain courses do with a large portion of the staff being seasonal, but despite that, we have had a great run!”
What does it mean to you to receive the 2018 Colorado Section Resort Merchandizer of the Year Award?
This award is great for our club and our staff. It is always rewarding to be seen as a top merchandiser. I know that my merchandise manager, Susan Farrell Morrison, is extremely instrumental in us receiving this honor. She was the first employee I hired but I would be remise if I didn’t also mention the many other employees who have been with me for a very long time and their part in our success. Todd James, Ari Papadopoulos, Liz McCabe, Brett Gagnon, Dave Thompson and our talented Head Professional Chris Lai!!
What do you believe are the qualities you possess that support your nomination for this award?
Since this is definitely a team award, I think one of the qualities I possess is the ability to hire and retain talented staff in a challenging labor market and to be able to lead them in delivering the highest quality customer service. I think it means a lot to our membership to see the same faces year-after-year.
We also do a great job of making our members and their guests feel welcome when they come to our courses. Golf is a hard sport and providing a comfortable, inviting atmosphere for them is significant to our success, as well as theirs.
We give a tremendous number of lessons to our members and guests and I believe this creates long-lasting relationships, as well as a high level of trust in our services. In return, they support our golf shops, not only with hard-good purchases but retail and soft-good purchases.
What are some tools you use in your profession that you wish you had known when you were beginning your career?
It is my belief that knowledge is gained through trial and error. So, the tools I have used and continue to use in my career is hard work and dedication to providing top notch service and quality products at a fair price. Continuing to educate ourselves also can set you apart from the competition. Knowledge is everything.
As it relates to golf, what is the best piece of advice you have received and what advice would you give to others?
The best piece of advice I received that has served me well is to be consistent in your policies and procedures.
I would share with others that you should not take things too seriously and really enjoy the game. I got into the golf professional because I love the competitive environment. I realized that if you can enjoy the game and have fun, you are likely to play better.
What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?
I would tell my 18-year-old self to spend as much time as possible with family and friends.
What is your proudest moment as a golf professional?
Being offered and accepting the Director of Golf position here at Red Sky is my proudest moment as a golf professional.
What is your merchandising strategy?
Our primary merchandising strategy is to connect with our members and guests by creating a welcoming atmosphere in all areas of the club. That includes establishing memorable teaching and playing opportunities that create a level of trust resulting in our customers choosing us for all their buying decisions.
I think it is also important to provide unique products and services at a competitive price. It is advantageous for us to find new companies each year that offer exciting new products our members will appreciate and purchase.
Share some of your “Best Practices.”
Each season as a staff we try to instruct and play with as many of our 250 members as possible, trying to grow the list of members we touch each year. We believe this leads to member loyalty in our golf shops resulting in increased sales.
Our operation is a bit unique in that we have a membership base in addition to having a huge resort business. Since our company owns hotels in Vail and Beaver Creek, they are able to promote visitation to the area to stay in the resorts while offering an opportunity to play really high-end golf courses at a reasonable rate. Servicing our resort guests by creating a member for the day drives a lot of revenue in our shops.
Each season we do many trunk shows allowing guests to see and purchase merchandise at a discount before it arrives in the warm weather climates.
Tell us something about yourself that others may not know.
Something that others may not know about me is that I played golf on a full-ride scholarship at the University of Wyoming and have a wife Nancy of 25 years and three children (Collin, Ryan and Lindsay).