During the Virtual Colorado PGA Spring Membership Meeting being held on Monday, April 6, 2020, Class A Members of the Colorado PGA will have the opportunity to elect individuals to serve three-year terms on the Colorado Board of Directors. The terms will begin at the Fall Meeting in October 2020 and will run through the Fall Meeting of 2023.

Specific instructions on the procedures for this virtual election will be shared next week.

This year, the Board has three (3) open slots to fill. Six (6) PGA Professionals have submitted their names as candidates to fill these openings. We thank these individuals for their willingness to serve as this is a great commitment. The candidates, in alphabetical order, are:

  1. Ryan Bakken, PGA
  2. Joe Carlton, PGA
  3. Earl Gerlach, PGA
  4. Jim Miller, PGA
  5. Mike O’Donnell, PGA
  6. Brad Skupaka, PGA

Learn about each of the candidates by reading about them below.

Job Title

  • Assistant Golf Professional at Thorncreek Golf Course

 

Education

  • PGA Certified – Golf Operations
  • University of Wisconsin-La Crosse – Bachelors of Science in Business Management

 

Work Experience

  • 2015-Present: Assistant Golf Professional, Thorncreek Golf Course
  • 2011-2014: Assistant Golf Professional, Pheasant Acres Golf Course, Rogers, Minn.
  • 2006-2010: Assistant Golf Professional, Eastwood Golf Course, Rochester, Minn.

 

Volunteer Experience

  • Drive, Chip & Putt
  • Golf in Schools – 50+ hours in local Thornton community
  • Bad Pants Open benefiting Special Olympics (Minn.)
    • Golf Clinic and Pro-Am with Special Olympic athletes

 

Awards/Recognition

  • 2020: Nominated for Assistant Professional of the Year

 

What should members know about you?
I LOVE Golf ~ It occupies plenty of space in my brain on a daily basis. I think that we undersell how fortunate we are to have the ability to play this game and play it well. From the moment I first hit a golf ball, I was hooked, and, to this day, I love the game.

My wife, Alicia, says I’d choose golf over her, which could be debatable considering I proposed to her on the Swilcan Bridge at St. Andrews. Fortunately, she said yes, to which I replied, “Good luck hitting the green with tears in your eyes.” (I’m kind of competitive.) We moved to Colorado from Minnesota in late 2014 and have loved being here ever since. Alicia has also taken up a career in the PGA as a coach at GOLFTEC – Westminster; so, you might say golf is a big part of our lives.

I still think it’s pretty cool that we go to work and can hit a few range balls or practice putts in between tasks to “get a breather.” Not too many folks can say that. Although we can have many difficult days at work, I think we all need to step back and realize that we’re part of a very cool profession that connects us to a ton of fantastic people. We could be a lot less fortunate.

Besides playing, I enjoy most other sports and enjoy hitting up various ski mountains in the winter. Other than that, we enjoy spending time at home and planning golf trips.

I hope to see you all on the links in 2020!

Reason for running for the board
I transferred to the Colorado Section of the PGA in 2015 after spending several years in the Minnesota Section. I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of energy in the Section in terms of community outreach, member education and the strong tournament program. I don’t intend to suggest wholesale changes, but I’d like to focus on the simplicity of the PGA slogan, “Serve the Member, Grow the Game.”

We are all constantly barraged with “Grow the Game” programs, but maybe don’t understand how the Section can “Serve the Member.” I do believe that all of us got into this game at some point because we had a deep love of either playing it, teaching it or facilitating an atmosphere for others to enjoy it. What I see too much of now is a sort of indifference to it. We are tasked with so many jobs at our facilities that we have a tough time finding joy in what we do. In order for us to “Grow the Game,” we need to have membership that is motivated, educated and happy. Our value to our facilities is not measured in our ability to build spreadsheets or count money. The true value of a PGA Professional is in connecting people to this great game and creating loyalty to our facilities or our programming.

I’d like to join some of the great professionals in our Section to explore better ways we can serve our membership. Whether it be through continuing education, creative programming and marketing, or exciting playing opportunities, I feel there is more we can do to improve the lives of our membership. If we exceed expectations in Serving the Member, we will inevitably Grow the Game.

Job Title

  • Head Golf Professional at Legacy Ridge Golf Course

 

Education

  • Santa Rosa Junior College – Certified PGA Professional

 

Work Experience

  • 2014-Present: Head Golf Professional, Legacy Ridge Golf Course
  • 2013-2014: First Assistant Golf Professional, Legacy Ridge Golf Curse
  • 2012-2013: Assistant Golf Professional, Fitzsimons Golf Course
  • 2006-2012: First Assistant Golf Professional, Windsor Golf Club

 

Volunteer Experience

  • Rocky Mountain Deaf School
  • Numerous City of Westminster Events
  • St. Vincent’s

 

Awards/Recognition

  • None

 

What should members know about you?
Professionally, I feel lucky. I feel lucky to be a Golf Professional. I feel honored to be a PGA Member and to have the opportunity to enrich so many lives. I don’t take this lightly and I am passionate about passing this game to future generations. I relish in the challenge of searching for new and unique opportunities to engage and expose people into the game, young and old. I am stealing this from others, but I have grown attached to a new title of Chief Engagement Officer.

Behind every great man, or maybe good man in my case, is an extraordinary woman and that is my wife of six years, Seda. I heard when I was younger about how you know when to marry someone, “When you find a girl that is too good for you, then you marry them.” That is what I did. If it wasn’t for her, I would have never made it out to Colorado. If it wasn’t for her, I would not have two beautiful girls, Ella, 5 and Sienna, 1. My family is very important to me. Being able to provide for them and empowering them to be not only beautiful but strong, smart and caring individuals is important to me. Another reason why I feel so lucky to be able to do this in my “job” as a Golf Professional.

Besides my professional and family life, I enjoy cooking, golf and hockey. I enjoy making people happy with food and am constantly making food for my staff, other City employees and my family. Golf, well of course, I love to play golf and look forward to hopefully being competitive again.

Reason for running for the board
I am running for the Board of Directors in hopes of being able to give back. I hope to be lucky enough to serve. During the 2019 Fall Business Meeting, I was inspired by listening to Alan Abrams and Bob Doyle. I truly believe that I will gain more than I will quite possibly be able to give. However, I know that I will most definitely do my best to try and at least give as much as I get.

Personally, I look forward to strengthening some already great relationships with fellow professionals and building some new relationships and friendships with others.

Professionally, I am most passionate about trying to improve the position of the PGA Member in the golf business. I believe that the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America has done a better job of positioning themselves as the leaders in the golf business. Don’t get me wrong, I truly value the “unsung hero,” and let’s face it, a lot of our guests visit the golf course because of the course conditions. However, it is the second-to-none service and relationships that PGA Members build that make a guest feel at home. It is efforts like these from the PGA Professional that drive revenue and are helping to make golf sustainable for the future.

Job Title

  • Director of Instruction at Collindale Golf Academy

 

Education

  • University of Colorado Colorado Springs – Professional Golf Management
  • Various Teaching and Coaching Summits
  • Level 1 TPI Certification
  • Boditrak/V1 Pro Certification

 

Work Experience

  • 2019-Present: Director of Instruction, Collindale Golf Academy
  • 2015-2018: Head Golf Professional, Collindale Golf Academy
  • 2015: Assistant Golf Professional, Collindale Golf Academy
  • 2009-2014: Outside/Range, Ironwood Golf Course, Normal, Ill.
  • 2005-2009: Outside/Shop Assistant, Country Club of Colorado

 

Volunteer Experience

  • Denver Golf Expo

 

Awards/Recognition

  • Taylormade National Fitters Council Member

 

What should members know about you?
As many of us have, I started playing golf at a young age and absolutely loved the game. The camaraderie, competition and challenge of the game are what truly drive my love of this sport. I am high energy and adore the opportunity to help people play a game that I hold dear. I enjoy connecting with other people to learn their story and finding out about what makes them unique.

Reason for running for the board
I am running because of you! Through the various educational seminars and coaching summits, what I have discovered is that I love every opportunity to gain knowledge and assist the people in my network. A position on this Board would allow me to do both. I am interested in learning how our Section, and the Sections across the country operate, while improving the support of our Members and growing the game of golf in Colorado!

Job Title

  • General Manager at Sonnenalp Club

 

Education

  • Oklahoma State University
  • Judson University

 

Work Experience

  • 2016-Present: General Manager, Sonnenalp Club
  • 2015: Operations Manager, Ocean Course at Hokuala, Hawaii
  • 2010-2015: Operations Manager, Timbers Resort – One Steamboat Place
  • 2001-2008: Director of Golf, Catamount Ranch and Club
  • 1994-2001: Assistant Golf Professional, Castle Pines Golf Club
  • 1996: Assistant Golf Professional, Pinnacle Peak Country Club (Winter)
  • 1994-1995: Outside Services, Vintage Club (Winters)

 

Volunteer Experience:

  • Colorado Section of the PGA, Member of the Board of Directors
  • Colorado Section of the PGA, Co-Chair of Membership – PGA LEAD Committee
  • Edwards Rotary Club
  • Play-by-Play Radio Announcer for Steamboat Springs High School Boys and Girls Basketball
  • Co-Founder of Catamount Scholarship Foundation
  • Board Member of Yampa Valley Community Foundation
  • Board Member of Whiteout Volleyball Club
  • Youth Football Coach
  • Youth Basketball Coach
  • Chicago area Special Olympics

 

Awards/Recognition

  • 2019: Certified PGA Professional in General Management
  • 2007: Colorado Section Merchandiser of the Year – Private
  • 2003: West Chapter Merchandiser of the Year – Private

 

What should members know about you?
Husband of Michele and father of Jake and Jenna. I was born and raised in Madison, Wisc., but Colorado has been home for the last 29 years. I am a huge fan of the Packers, Badgers, Bucks, Rockies, Avs and Nuggets. I am a lover of all Hostess products and of our two dogs, Raji and Lambeau.

My older brother got me started in golf. When I was a kid, we would play a few times a summer – nothing serious, I just loved the fact that it was something just the two of us shared. But I really “found” the game again in college. I loved everything about it. I loved the courses, the history, the jokes, the shoes, the clubs, the manners, the sunglasses, memorizing Caddyshack, the golf bag, the honors on the tee, the handshakes, the milkshakes, the supportive compliments on good shots and the hilarious comments on bad shots…everything.

I didn’t view golf as a possible career until I started waiting tables in the summers at Castle Pines Golf Club. My first year there, I had the privilege of working alongside and observing the Golf Staff. It was Andy Benson, Jay Davis, Billy Loeffler and Keith Schneider. I thought, “I can’t think of a cooler career.” Later, during my third season at Castle Pines, I had a fateful conversation with Keith. I told him that I was thinking of starting a career in golf. Keith (not knowing that his answer would have a direct impact on the next 25+ years of my life) said, “I think you’d be really good at it…this is how you get started… you start scrubbing clubs.” Keith then sat down and helped me lay out a road map for the first few steps – and I’ve never looked back.

Reason for running for the board
I am so proud of this Colorado Section. I am so proud of our PGA REACH Foundation and our three pillars ~ Youth, Military and Diversity and Inclusion. For the youth, we have Golf In Schools and the PGA Junior League. For our Veterans, I am so proud of PGA HOPE and our ability to give a home to an injured military Veteran!

And under Diversity and Inclusion, we are the only Section in the country to have PGA LEAD at the Section Level. When you hear the stories and challenges these young men and women have faced, yet continue to still move forward in golf, you’re blown away. These leaders will make up the new face of the PGA and I, for one, can’t wait to see where they’ll go and where they’ll take us next. I absolutely want to continue supporting them in any way I can, growing PGA LEAD, and am truly looking forward to being a Member in the PGA that they build together.

The first year on the Board can be a bit intimidating. There’s a lot of knowledge and experience in that room! You end up being slow to speak up and hesitant to make your voice heard. You take in a lot of great information and you listen closely to what these talented men and women are saying.

The second year, you feel more comfortable and you begin to see where you can plug in and where your talents will best benefit the Members of our Section.

The third year you’re contributing, you’re comfortable and you’re ready to go…then you get the email saying that your term is up. There’s still work to be done and I’d be honored if you would consider electing me for a second term. Thank you.

Job Title

  • Director of Family & Morale, Welfare & Recreation at United States Army Garrison Fort Carson, Colo.

 

Education

  • PGA Master Professional – General Management
  • University of Ipswich, Suffolk, England (U.K.) – HND Business and Finance

 

Work Experience

  • 2013-Present: Director of Family & Morale, Welfare & Recreation, U.S. Army Garrison (USAG) Fort Carson, Colo.
  • 2011-2013: Business Operations Director, USAG Fort Carson, Colo.
  • 2010 – Senior Project Manager, Rock Island Arsenal Golf Club, US Army Garrison Rock Island Arsenal, Rock Island, Ill.
  • 2007-2009: General Manager/Co-Asset Manager, Terre Blanche Golf Club and Domaine de Terre Blanche, Provence, France
  • 2005-2007: Four Seasons Golf Resort and Spa, Domaine De Terre Blanche, Provence, France
  • 2003-2005: Director or Family & Morale, Welfare & Recreation, 411th Base Support Battalion (BSB), Heidelberg, Germany
  • 2002-2003: Business Operations Director, 411th BSB, Heidelberg, Germany
  • 2001-2002: Director of Golf/General Manager – Heidelberg Golf Club, 411th BSB, Heidelberg, Germany
  • 1998-2001: Director of Golf/General Manager, Wind Creek Golf Course, Sheppard Air Force Base, Wichita Falls, Texas
  • 1997-1998: Head Golf Professional, Woodlawn Golf Course, Ramstein Air Force Base, Germany
  • 1996-1997: Director of Instruction, Woodlawn Golf Course, Ramstein AFB, Germany
  • 1994-1996: Assistant Golf Professional, Woodlawn Golf Course, Ramstein AFB, Germany
  • 1992-1994: Deputy Golf Course Superintendent, Fornham Park Country Club, Suffolk, England
  • 1991-1992: Assistant Golf Professional, Haggin Oaks Golf Complex, Sacramento, Calif.

 

Volunteer Experience:

  • Panel Member for Global Business of Golf – PGA Show, Orlando, Fla.
  • U.S. Olympic Committee and the Colorado PGA – Finding Leaders Among Minorities Everywhere (FLAME) Program
  • Junior Golf – Haggin Oaks, Woodlawn, Wind Creek, Heidelberg and Terre Blanche Golf Courses
  • Section Experience
    • Colorado Section of the PGA, Co-Chair of Membership PGA – LEAD Committee
    • Colorado Section of the PGA, Member of the Board of Directors
    • Colorado PGA Military Affairs Committee
    • Unaffiliated (Outside of Continental United States) PGA, PAT Examiner

 

Awards/Recognition

  • Department of the Army – Commanders Award for Civilian Service
    • 2018, 2014, 2011: Fort Carson, Colo.
    • 2005: Heidelberg, Germany

 

What should members know about you?
I was born in Texas (Go Cowboys!), grew up in England (Go Arsenal!), have dual citizenship (U.S. and British) and have worked in the United Kingdom, Germany, France and the United States (Texas, California, Illinois and Colorado). I like to fish, ski, golf and spend time enjoying the great outdoors with family and friends.

Reason for running for the board
Having served as a Board Member for the Colorado Section of the PGA for the past two years and having developed a deeper understanding for how our Section leads, influences change and makes a difference in the lives of our Membership, I am interested in continued service. Having worked in varying capacities across Public, Private, Resort and Military golf, I provide a well-balanced perspective to the Board that represents our Membership as a whole. My experience serving on various boards and committees at the executive level in both the private sector and government fits well with the expectations and guidelines for Board Members serving the Colorado PGA.

Job Title

  • Director of Teaching Quality at GOLFTEC Headquarters

 

Education

  • Coastal Carolina University – Bachelor of Science

 

Work Experience

  • 2016-Present: Director of Teaching Quality, GOLFTEC Headquarters
  • 2009-2016: Coach/Center Manager, GOLFTEC Philadelphia

 

Volunteer Experience:

  • PGA National Demo Day Speaker
  • PGA National Teaching and Coaching Summit Speaker
  • Colorado Section Fall Teaching and Coaching Summit Speaker
  • Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado Spring-Summit Speaker
  • Denver Golf Expo Presenter
  • Denver Golf Expo 10-Minute Lessons

 

Awards/Recognition

  • 2019-2020: Golf Digest Best Teachers in Your State – Colorado
  • 2018-2019: Golf Digest Best Young Teacher
  • 2017-2018: Golf Digest Best Teachers in Your State – Colorado

 

What should members know about you?
I have been involved in the golf industry since I was 15 years old, having worked positions as restaurant wait staff, grounds crew and golf operations staff before ultimately becoming a Coach at GOLFTEC and advancing to the Headquarters Teaching Quality Staff. At GOLFTEC, I have had the opportunity to meet and train over 1,000 professionals from across the United States and the world. Beyond GOLFTEC, I am actively involved in raising money for charitable organization through golf. This has allowed me to raise nearly $10,000 in 2019 alone for organizations such as Cancer League of Colorado, Angels of Our Fallen, Wounded Warriors and many more. This has provided not only the opportunity to meet the organizers of these charities, but also the beneficiaries. Being able to help these organizations through golf has been a great experience.

Reason for running for the board
Through my experience at various positions within the golf industry, I believe I can offer a unique perspective on topics that effect Colorado Section Members. My position with GOLFTEC provides me the unique opportunity to train and interact with over 400 PGA Members and Associates from different Sections every year and it allows me to learn more about what is important to them. I have also been given the opportunity to travel to various Sections. This has allowed me to learn more about what is happening in those Sections and how the Colorado Section can learn from their successes and avoid their pitfalls. Through election to the Colorado Section Board of Directors, I am hoping to have a positive impact on both the Section and its Members.