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Armed with a ready smile, a welcoming attitude and a willingness to help in any way he can, Jimmy Biggs, the PGA pro at Crow Creek, always makes sure golfers have a great time at their golf course.
“It’s more than just golf, although we have a great course here. Golfers need to feel welcome when they come to play, whether they are members or visitors,” Biggs said as we chatted last week in his office at Crow Creek.
Being a PGA golf professional is more than playing golf and schmoozing with the members. It is a demanding job that requires a lot of skill and expertise. A PGA pro is expected to know the game and its rules, how to run tournaments. He needs to merchandize the course and the contents of his pro shop and to know bookkeeping and accounting. And he needs to understand turf management because he works intimately with the golf course superintendent.
There are people skills involved and Biggs believes that is a major part of his job.
“I represent the Crow Creek brand wherever I go, whether I’m wearing a logoed shirt and slacks or a T-shirt and shorts,” he said. “I am the face of Crow Creek because I’m the pro here.
“It’s an adventure, and sometimes I need to help unload golf bags, or cook burgers, sign in golfers, or man the phone lines and make reservations. I’ve mixed drinks and fixed flat tires out in the parking lot. You have to be willing to do everything or know who to call for help. Basically, I’m the bottom line here and if there’s a problem, I need to fix it.
“I try to treat the staff well, to know them personally as friends and coworkers. It’s a team effort here, and they’re the ones who make me look good.”
Joe Jamieson has been the superintendent at Crow Creek for many years and keeps the course with its bentgrass greens in amazing shape year-round.
“I know that Joe needs time for maintenance and the course needs time for R and R; basically, it needs time to heal from all the play,” Biggs said. “Joe and I are partners, and I’m careful not to load up the course with too many players. We have rangers who go out every day and fix ball marks. We also try to educate our players and members to care for the course by fixing divots and repairing ball marks.”
Biggs started playing golf in Southern California when he was 5. His father was a scratch golfer and would take him out on the course with his foursome.
“It was a great way to spend time with my dad who was in real estate, and I learned to love the game,” Biggs said. “Later, we moved to upstate New York and instead of playing year-round, my dad could only play four or five months a year. His handicap went from zero to eight.”
Biggs qualified to play on his high school golf team when he was in eighth grade.
“Tiger Woods was just getting started and there was a lot interest in the game at that time, particularly on the part of young people,” Biggs said. “I lettered in golf every year and made some good friends. Several of our seniors were planning to go to Campbell University for their PGM (Professional Golf Management) program. I checked it out and decided that was where I wanted to go.
“People think that becoming a PGA pro is an easy thing, but it’s not. When I started, there were 65 students in the PGM program. Thirteen of us made it through and only six are club pros now. It’s a tough program, combining a business degree with getting certified as a PGA Class A golf professional.”
Campbell University is in Buies Creek, about 30 miles south of Raleigh. More than 4,000 students are on the main campus and 3,000 others are at affiliated sites. The Campbell Law School, for example, is in Raleigh.
The PGM program at Campbell includes courses in teaching, club fitting, merchandising, food and beverage, turfgrass management and customer relations. Keith Hills Golf Course, a nationally ranked 27-hole facility designed by Dan and Ellis Maples, is where the PGM majors get hands-on management.
And, of course, before becoming certified PGA pros, graduates must pass their Playing Ability Test. These are tests conducted around the country by the PGA. In order to pass, a golfer must shoot a target score for 36 holes (usually played in one day) that is within 15 strokes of the course rating.
Biggs got his master’s degree at Campbell and then started his first job at The Pearl Golf Links. A year ago, he was hired to be the head pro at Crow Creek.
“Every day is different when you’re working at a golf course,” he said. “We have about 100 full-time members here, plus outside play. I’m always busy.”
I asked Biggs about his hobbies and he told me he has two boxers and a Boykin Spaniel, a hunting dog that has been named the official dog of South Carolina.
“Taking care of the dogs and walking them is my hobby,” he said. “With my job, there’s not a lot of time for a whole lot more.”
On Nov. 16-17, Crow Creek will host the 10th annual Brunswick Beacon Tournament of Champions. The champions of our area clubs will compete during two days of scratch-play golf.
“We’re thrilled to be the host of this important countywide event,” Biggs said. “I’m looking forward to it.”
So am I, Jimmy. So am I.
Golf Gab groaner
After 35 years of marriage, a husband and wife were not getting along, so they went to a marriage counselor.
During the session, the wife went on and on about how neglected she was, about a lack of intimacy, of feeling empty and unloved. She continued to name a laundry list of unmet needs with tears in her eyes.
Finally, the therapist got up, walked around his desk, gently took the woman in his arms, then kissed her long and passionately as the husband watched with raised eyebrows.
When he was done, the woman sat quietly and the therapist turned to the husband.
“That is what your wife needs at least three times a week. Can you do this?”
“Well, I can drop her off her on Mondays and Wednesday, but on Fridays I play golf.”
(Submitted by Gerry Maloney.)
Elsa Bonstein is a golf columnist for the Beacon. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her at facebook.com/elsa.bonstein.