Ty Thompson, PGA, has been selected as the 2018 Colorado PGA Golf Professional of the Year. This highest honor given annually by the Colorado PGA goes to a member for their overall performance including leadership, service and promotion of the game of golf.
“For me, this is a humbling experience,” starts Thompson. “I think back to my dream as a young kid of wanting to be a golf professional and it never crossed my mind that I could be an officer of a Section or win an award like this.”
“When one receives this kind of recognition, you realize how much the people around you have helped get you to this point. It represents a lot of collaboration and mentoring. I didn’t win this award without the help of some great mentors nor without taking the time to be a mentor to others. I feel that this is truly ‘A Family of Professionals Award.'”
Young Thompson began his dedication to the game of golf at the age of 10 when his grandfather took him to his first golf clinic. At the early age of 13, the city course in Southern Idaho became his safe-haven, his foundation and his stability where he carefully crafted his future. He intended to finish high school, enlist in the military, go to a 4-year university and then become a golf professional. Throughout high school, he spent his summers opening the golf shop first thing in the morning and playing golf until the sun went down. Thompson credits PGA Professional Earl Simpson for the opportunity to learn about the industry during these early years.
As plans go, he was on track to accomplish them while playing on the All Army Golf Team, where, in Germany in 1993, they won the European Championship. However, after one season on the Boise State Golf Team, Thompson laid down his clubs to focus his time serving in Christian ministry. It wasn’t until he was 29, married with a child and one on the way, that he got the nagging feeling that if he didn’t at least try to become a golf professional, he would later regret that he had never followed his dream. Thus, he began rebuilding of his golf career by enrolling in the PGA/PGM apprentice program and getting his MBA from Liberty University. He would earn his PGA membership just 24 months later and go on to become a Certified Professional in Golf Operations.
With a passion for green-grass facilities, in 2005, he decided to leave his role as Director of Operations at D’Lance Golf and take his first assistant golf professional position working under PGA Professionals Hank Hough and Barry Milstead at Valley Country Club. He would move on to spend valuable time as the First Assistant under Don Graham, PGA, at the Pinery Country Club before landing at Cherry Hills Country Club under the tutelage of Clayton Cole, PGA. During his three years at Cherry Hills, he would see Cole retire and get the opportunity to work for another decorated PGA Professional, John Ogden.
“I had the opportunity to work at some wonderful places for some great professionals,” says Thompson. “I learned something different at each Club and was fortunate to serve my final assistant position at Cherry Hills, a place I have long called the Harvard of the Golf Business.”
In fact, Thompson recalls that one of the most valuable pieces of advice he received in his career was from Cole. Specializing in private member-owned clubs, Cole coached him on the importance of always treating members the same; basing decisions on the issue rather than on the member, has served him well throughout his career.
In 2010, he accepted the Head Golf Professional position at Colorado Springs Country Club. His success in the golf operation led to being promoted to Director of Golf with greater influence and leadership in food and beverage, strategic planning, training and talent development, as well as grounds maintenance. In 2017, with 15 years of operations experience, he launched Crosshairs Consulting LLC. With a mission to identify areas of waste and implement strategies of lean management, he is continuing to provide guidance to PGA Professionals and their operations.
When asked about his proudest moments as a golf professional, Thompson shared two thoughts. “Any time I was able to help my apprentices or members attain that next level of education was rewarding to me. In fact, watching both of my assistants win the Assistant Professional of the Year Award was very special; being a mentor to them through those critical growth years has great meaning for me.”
His consulting contract has allowed him to continue the mentorship with the now PGA Head Professional Beau Smith, and PGA Tournament Professional/First Assistant Brad Gannaway. He proudly shared, “Everything I was able to do for the Colorado Section and for the Club was due to these two Professionals. They had my back and executed our operational strategies with precision and consistency. I take great satisfaction in stepping aside so the two of them could be elevated to take the lead on a day-to-day basis.”
In addition, Thompson was proud of his Colorado Springs Country Club team for being awarded the Private Merchandiser of the Year Award in 2011. In 18 months, they completed a hands-on golf shop renovation and were able to assemble and train an exceptional team that redefined the culture of service at the Club.
“We weren’t the biggest club, we weren’t the most prestigious club and we didn’t sell the most goods, but we had a dream for what it could be and the support of our PGA General Manager, Kevin Sanger. In the end, the improvement we achieved accorded us this recognition,” remembers Thompson.
Being President of the Colorado Section has been an honor for Thompson. The engagement of successful business and military leaders to become Trustees for the Colorado PGA REACH Foundation represents a phenomenal accomplishment during his tenure as an officer. He also considers automating and providing greater access and communication flow with the Colorado PGA Board of Directors a great success. “I think the Colorado Section has one of the highest functioning Boards in the entire PGA of America,” touts Thompson. “The focus on training our Board along with the investment of time and money over the last three years has afforded us enormous results. The latest news of winning the 2018 Herb Graffis Award is a great testament to the vision of our Board and the program execution by our staff and PGA Members.”
Speaking of staff, making deliberate and strategic modifications to attract and retain talented employees at the Section office has been a priority. Being able to keep the talent we have in Eddie Ainsworth, PGA, Executive Director, and Patrick Salva, Assistant Executive Director, along with consistency among the other staff members, permits the Section the ability to function at the level it does, according to Thompson.
As the recipient of the Colorado PGA Golf Professional of the Year, Thompson shares the following insight to his fellow PGA Professionals: “The life cycle of a golf professional is a journey. Different aspects of the association manifest themselves in this journey at various times. There was a time I played 25+ tournaments a year and now I may play less than five. Either way, I am proud of our tournament program and have been involved on the governance side of tournaments. The same goes for volunteering your time or your involvement in the Foundation. The point is, I encourage all Members to be engaged in whatever manner fits your current life situation. As a Colorado PGA Member or Associate, I hope you take pride in all the programs and services we deliver!”
“This award is a huge honor for me. Thank you,” concludes Thompson. “As PGA Professionals, we have a great opportunity to make a difference in our communities whether it is at our kid’s school or through business organizations. By getting and staying involved, we make a positive impact in those we meet through the game of golf while, at the same time, strengthening the brand of the PGA.”