After six years of plying his trade as the golf pro at Kitchen Creek, Gord Workum has decided to swing his career in another direction--as head pro at the private Pine Ridge Golf and Country Club in Winnipeg.
“I loved this place, I’m sure going to miss it,” said Workum, 34, who was the first pro hired at Kitchen Creek back in 1994. “I grew up with the course and it grew up with me.
“It will be tough to move,” he stressed. “The course went beyond anyone’s [expectations].”
The course instantly underwent a facelift with Workum’s arrival and the construction of the pro shop.
Also during his tenure, memberships almost doubled (640 last year compared to 375 in 1993) while the number of rounds peaked at 34,000 in 1998--almost triple the number in 1993 (12,000).
“I got to mold the course to what I liked, which was nice,” Workum said.
“The club changed to a family-oriented club and that was one of my objectives--to get the juniors involved and then the families would follow.
“There’s no future without new juniors,” he stressed.
Looking ahead, Workum’s future will be a busy one. Besides his new position at Pine Ridge, considered one of the top Manitoba courses and host to a Canadian Tour date, he and wife, Donna, are expecting a baby in April (he jokingly predicted their child will shoot right-handed).
“The expected birth is one of the main reasons for the change,” Workum admitted.
But the change also was career oriented.
“It will be a new experience for me because I’ve never been involved with a tour event,” Workum noted. “The change will be a step up in my career, moving from a public to a private course.
“And urban pros get a little more publicity,” he added.
While he often worked long hours during the summer months here, Workum said he won’t be easing up on his 100-hour plus work weeks. In fact, he expects to be just as busy in Winnipeg.
“I’m a workaholic, I’ll still do a 100 hours a week,” said Workum. “I live at the golf course--I take it personally. I’m proud of my job and I want to do it to the best of my ability.
“My focus now is Pine Ridge,” he stressed.
Malcolm Douglas, president of the Kitchen Creek board of directors, said there’s no question Workum did an outstanding job during his six-year stint here.
In fact, many would argue the club will be hard-pressed to find a more qualified or personable pro.
“Gordie brought the club to where it is today,” praised Douglas, noting the cut-off date for applications is in January. “I’ve visited pro shops and I would say Gordie’s is in the top 10 in Canada.
“He stocked his pro shop beautifully and it was run professionally.”
For his part, Workum certainly feels Kitchen Creek has the potential to continue to be a fine course for all types of players--regardless of age or ability.
“It’s a fun golf course. People of any level can come out [and play],” he said. “It’s fun for the beginner player and there are some tough holes to challenge the better player.”
It also should prove to be a rewarding challenge for the new pro who steps in.
“The pro shop and the facility is a great opportunity for anyone to come in,” said Workum. “But they’ll have to be a young person. With the amount of hours, a person in his 40s won’t be able to do it.”
Douglas agreed hiring the right person is “vital” to the continued success of the club.
“We hope the new guy will carry on like Gord,” he noted. “Everybody liked him--the executive, the members. He had really good people skills.”
Douglas said Workum was just one piece of the puzzle that made the course a success over the past few years, stressing the executive and course superintendent Greg Ross also were vital parts of building Kitchen Creek to where it is today.
Still, he added the key now will be to find another person to fill the void Workum leaves.
“The course has to have a good pro,” he admitted. “We don’t know if we’ll get five or 50 applicants but what they need to know is the club and its potential.”
Meanwhile, the golfing community will be holding a “coffee party” in honour of Workum’s service to the club tomorrow from 9-10:30 a.m. at the meeting room at the Red Dog Inn. Everyone is welcomed to attend.