After working as a golf professional at Otter Creek from 1989 to 1997, Keith Clark decided to go on the golf tour.
No, it wasn’t the PGA Tour. Clark went on a tour of golf courses.
Since that time, he has worked at six courses in three states to learn everything he could about golf management.
What he learned was that the perfect place for him was right here in Columbus at Harrison Lake Country Club.
“When I was at Otter Creek, I remember that I thought that this (Harrison Lake) was the place, a very nice, private club,” said Clark, a Greensburg native who has been hired to be the Harrison Lake golf pro. “I love the private club atmosphere. It becomes a big family, and it’s a lot easier when you know everybody.”
Clark’s last job was managing three Indianapolis-area courses (Hickory Stick, Heartland Crossing and Pebble Brook) for Essig Golf Management. Previously, he had been the golf pro at courses in Harford, Conn., and Ponte Vedra, Fla. One of his stops was at the famed TPC Sawgrass course in Ponte Vedra.
He said moving around so often was part of his learning experience. “It was a little by design,” he said. “My goal was to see a few different kinds of operations. It was about learning golf business management.”
Harrison Lake owner Bob Haddad said the club has found a gem.
“He had the greatest résumé presentation I’ve seen in all my career,” said Haddad, who owns Columbus Container Inc. “He had listed and itemized detailed instructions of his process of how he would get the job accomplished. He also understands that reporting upward at every level is essential. He knows to tell me the good and the bad. We don’t need heroes. We want a guy to do his job. He understands that. We had some very, very good candidates, but Keith prevailed.”
Haddad, who saved the club from foreclosure in 2005 by purchasing it, described the job as making sure Harrison Lake remains “essential to the character and culture of the community.”
Clark, 46, wants to embrace that task.
“I see this as another opportunity to enhance the club,” he said. “I know we have a passionate membership.
“I want to let it be known what a great place this would be to bring your whole family. And I know Mr. Haddad wants this to be a fine club and a pillar of the community. In a nutshell, he wants to make sure the facilities are above and beyond.”
Family is a main theme for Haddad, who has been married to his wife, Helen, for 58 years.
“We have inserted family tees,” Haddad said. “We are grandfathers here, and we love kids. You can just sit here with friends, and it is such a lovely view. It’s visiting a friend’s house, or your mother’s house. It’s like visiting with family.”
Besides the golf course, Harrison Lake has other amenities such as tennis courts, a pool, and a clubhouse and restaurant.
Of course, the main attraction is the golf course, which opened in 1946. Drought conditions the past three years have taken their toll on the course.
“The course took some stress during the drought,” said Clark, who lives in Franklin with his wife, Brenda, and their daughters, 15-year-old Quinlyn and 11-year-old Meggie.
“It’s been tough out here. But I am quite confident that our conditions will be great. Everything is easily repairable, and we just had a visit from USGA experts to do a report on the turf.”
Other than some drought damage, Clark said the layout of the course is “gorgeous.”
Although Clark, who is vice president of the Indiana PGA, has been busy with the business end of running a course, he said when he does play, “if I putt well, I will keep it around par.”
He already has been giving lessons at Harrison Lake, and he said he looks forward to adding some new technology that will help the members. “The launch monitors they have now tell us more information, such as how your ball is reacting to your equipment.”
Those who would like to find out more information about Harrison Lake Country Club or about membership can call 812-342-4457. Haddad said the club is offering special guest memberships so that people in the community can take a good look.
Think your friends should see this? Share it with them!
All content copyright ©2013 The Republic, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.