Andrew Stolze wasn’t sure what career he wanted to pursue when he entered college a little more than a decade ago.
But after two years in his hometown at IPFW, he learned about the Professional Golf Management program at Ferris State in Michigan. That education would lead him to an eight-year stint at Country Club of Indianapolis and now as the head pro at Harrison Lake Country Club.
“I played (golf) all four years of high school and really enjoyed it, and then afterwards, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do,” Stolze said. “All my friends were going into business, but I wasn’t crazy about that. I didn’t want to have a typical desk job, so I went for IPFW for a couple years to kind of figure out what I wanted to do.”
Stolze, 30, began his new job March 1. He replaced Keith Clark, who left for a similar job at Hillcrest Country Club in Indianapolis.
Harrison Lake chief operating officer Bob Haddad Jr. said he had 18 candidates, which were narrowed to six. A committee of six members interviewed those candidates, and Stolze was the unanimous choice.
“He’s a creative guy,” Haddad said. “He’s already introduced some new ideas. It’s always tough when you lose a guy that’s been here four or five years, but when one door closes, another one opens.”
Stolze said he had never been to Columbus and had not heard of HLCC. But when Haddad showed him the lake, the course and the new things they were doing around the facility and the money they were putting into it, Stolze said he was blown away.
In his three-plus months at the course, Stolze also has been impressed with the people at Harrison Lake and in Columbus. He said you can find out as much as you want about the golf course and the country club on its operation and the way things look, but you’ll never be able to know what kind of people you have until you actually get there and can get involved in start to meet them.
“That was the hardest part about leaving CCI because I had built a lot of relationships with those guys,” Stolze said. “So when we came down here, I was a little nervous about that at first, but everyone has been super welcoming, and they’ve kind of taken me in. It’s made that part of the transition very easy.”
Stolze started as an intern at CCI before moving up to assistant pro. He was head pro the past two years.
Former CCI pro George Arvanitis, who had moved up to general manager and director of golf at that club, encouraged Stolze to spread his wings.
“I had put in quite a bit of time at one place and had moved up as high as I could move,” Stolze said. “He was still kind of the guy, and then this position opened up, and he was adamant that I would apply and kind of go off and do my own thing. He thought I was ready for that — to start my own career without being underneath somebody mentoring me.”
At Harrison Lake, Stolze has helped facilitate an Indiana Amateur qualifier and the club’s member-guest event. The club will host the first or second round of the city tournament next weekend.
The main goal that Stolze and HLCC officials settled upon when he arrived was to create an environment that people want to be a part of. He thinks with all the work Harrison Lake has put in the past few years, people stayed away because it was so crazy.
Now that they’ve completed those projects, he says the golf course is in the best shape it’s been in five or six years, he wants to grow that membership back close to where it was in its heyday, when it had around 400 members.
“There’s nothing like this, even in the state,” Stolze said. “It’s a unique spot for meetings, a unique spot to be a golfer because you have the lake setting and the rolling hills. It’s something that’s special.”
Stolze said that while the club does more with trying to build membership, he is going to start to get more involved with that. He plans to try to get more groups and businesses to come out and play and plans to become a little bit more involved in the community to promote the course place and get people to take advantage of it.
One thing Stolze has talked about is having “public days,” where the course is open to the public. He had tried those at CCI and felt they were a success.
“We don’t want anyone to think that it’s your typical country club, where it’s kind of stuck up, and people keep to themselves,” Stolze said. “We’re very welcoming. We want the people to know that, so our goal is to get that word out there, get some people over, get some guests to come and play and try to drive membership that way.”
Haddad said the No. 1 thing the committee was seeking when looking for a pro was someone who had a very good understanding of a high level of customer service.
“Country Club of Indianapolis is one of the finer clubs in one of the Indianapolis area, and Andrew, during our interview process, demonstrated that he could bring that level of service to our golfing members,” Haddad said. “Beyond that, he was extremely personable. He has a great understanding of the game of golf. He’s a great instructor. He demonstrated some really nice retail skills in the pro shop. He seemed to be an overall package to us.”
Name: Andrew Stolze
Born: East Moline, Illinois
High school: Fort Wayne Concordia
Colleges: IPFW, Ferris State (B.A. in marketing)
Occupation: Head pro at Harrison Lake Country Club
New Harrison Lake Country Club pro Andrew Stolze is one of five local golfers who are entered to play in this year’s Indiana Open Championship, which will be Monday through Thursday in West Lafayette.
Columbus North graduates Ian Coffey, Christian Fairbanks and Michael VanDeventer also are entered. They will be joined by Brown County graduate Aubrey Seaman.
The Indiana Open will be Monday and Wednesday at the Ackerman-Allen Course and Tuesday and Thursday at the Purdue-Kampen Course. The field will be cut to the low 70 and ties following Tuesday’s second round.