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Former Utahn To Receive National PGA Award

By Shawn Harrison The Herald Journal | 0 comments

Later this week a Cache Valley native will be honored by the PGA of America.
Born and raised in Smithfield, Tom Davidson now calls Hayden, Idaho, home. Hayden is located in the panhandle of the Gem State near Coeur d’Alene.
Davidson will be awarded the 2010 PGA of America Merchandiser of the Year at the 58th annual awards show held this year on Thursday in Orange County, Fla. He is currently the director of golf at Circling Raven Golf Club in Worley, Idaho. The course is owned by the Coeur d’Alene Tribe. Davidson said he “truly loves his job and feels blessed and very lucky.”
Growing up a few blocks from Birch Creek Golf Course, Davidson graduated from Sky View High School in 1981 and Utah State University in 1988. Back when Birch Creek was called the Smithfield Municipal Course, he started working there at the age of 11, gathering range balls and cleaning carts.
The now 47-year-old has worked at the Logan Golf & Country Club for then pro Dean Candland, was the golf coach at the University of Wyoming for four years, worked at the West Ridge Golf Course in West Valley City, got his first head golf professional job at Eagle Mountain Golf Course in Brigham City in 1993, moved on to be the head pro at Birch Creek for six seasons, then was the general manager at the golf club in Coeur d’Alene before ending up at Circling Raven in 2008.
He and his wife Pauline have three children: Lauren (17), Spencer (14) and Kamron (10). Before flying to Florida, Davidson took some time to visit with The Herald Journal.
HJ: When did you first become interested in golf?
Davidson: My mom and dad introduced me to the game when I was seven or eight years old. They just cut down a few clubs for me. They were kind of getting interested in the game too. I got hooked pretty early and started riding my bike to the golf course every day. I just started playing every day, and it’s kind of what we did every summer. … The pro there started paying me at age 11 to pick up range balls and clean carts. It kept me out of trouble. There were three or four friends that would meet up there every day and play and practice and horse around.
HJ: Did you play high school and college golf then?
Davidson: Yes, I played high school golf at Sky View, then played for Utah State for four years.
HJ: When did you start thinking about becoming a golf pro?
Davidson: Pretty early on, really. When I was 13 or 14, (Smithfield Municipal Course golf pro) Dan Roskelley started letting me go in the golf shop and work a little bit. I was always drawn to the business side. We all have a little ambition to try and play for a living when you are young. I thought about it a little bit, but I was always attracted to the business side, loved interacting with people and teaching. I never really thought about playing for a living after those first few years.
HJ: Many people don’t realize all the work that goes in to being a golf pro and the business side. How much does that cut down on your playing time?
Davidson: That’s very true. It’s a little like being a dentist. You work all day in your office, then stay in your office to do family time and that kind of thing. I still enjoy playing and play in a few competitions here and there. Playing the game is what got me into the business side of it. Playing is definitely down on the priority list, other things need attention to do the job right. I learned from Dan (Roskelley) pretty early on about setting priorities.
HJ: You’ve worked at a number of golf courses. Why have you moved around so much?
Davidson: For some reason it has been difficult for me to sit still for too long. I love a challenge. I love being able to go into a facility and get to know people and do what I can to help the facility. Sometimes after a few years it gets a little bit mundane for me. I’m always looking to be challenged and get better. Most of my moves have been geared around that, learning more and being challenged more from job to job. That has got me to where I’m at. Without all those experiences, I wouldn’t be ready for the next challenge.
HJ: Do you have a favorite course you’ve worked at?
Davidson: I really enjoyed my first professional job at Brigham City. That one was really special. Maybe you look back and say, “Gosh, maybe I should have stayed my whole career there.” The people were great, the community was great, the golf course was good. The city was good to work with. Any time I’ve left a place, I’ve always left it in better shape than before I got there. I don’t know if I have a particular favorite. Going home to Birch Creek was enjoyable as well.
HJ: Where have you worked the longest?
Davidson: It would have to be Birch Creek. I worked for Danny (Roskelley) for 10 years going through high school and college. I spent a lot of time at the Logan Golf & Country Club as my parents were members there, joining when I was 12 or 13.
HJ: What are you in charge of as director of golf at the Circling Raven Golf Club?
Davidson: It’s a little different being a director than being the golf pro. I’m in charge of all golf operations. In essence, that is the golf shop operations and the maintenance side with the superintendent. I oversee both of those. I have a head professional in the golf shop that I supervise, as well as a couple of full-time assistants, and all of our shop personnel and outside service personnel. Our superintendent has two assistants as well as a full-time mechanic. It’s really just supervising and managing the golf course operations.
HJ: Do you miss being just a golf pro?
Davidson: At times, yes. There are so many administrative duties as a director that it does pull you away from some of the things I really enjoy doing. I don’t get an opportunity to teach a lot or interact with customers a lot. Those are two of the things I enjoy most. I’m able to do it occasionally.
HJ: Later this week you will be recognized as the 2010 PGA of America Merchandiser of the Year for a resort facility. What does this mean to you?
Davidson: Well, it was really kind of a shocker. Being recognized by your peers at any time is the ultimate form of flattery. It’s a pretty amazing thing. We’ve been fortunate to win the merchandiser of the year for the Pacific Northwest Section three years in a row. That alone is a big accomplishment, but the national award, I don’t know if it has really sunk in yet. We’re just up here in Worley, Idaho, with a population of 300 people. It just doesn’t seem real yet.
It’s a tribute to our team. It’s an award that goes to an individual, but it is such a team-oriented type of accomplishment. Without our people, there’s just no way we could have gotten the attention of the national people and put forth the product we provide. Circling Raven is a top 100 resort by Golf Magazine and Golf Digest and has won many accolades the last five or six years. So, the golf course is strong and has garnered national attention. Our goal has just been to get the golf shop to match that. Any time you are recognized by your peers, it’s a fantastic and incredible feeling.
HJ: What are your plans for the future?
Davidson: You never know when something is going to come available that you’re interested in. I’m not getting any younger, so I need to settle down and work out the rest of my career. I enjoy Circling Raven very much. The people we work with and for are spectacular.
HJ: How do you feel the sport of golf is doing?
Davidson: The last couple of years with the economy, it tends to follow that. It is generally a sport that takes time and a little extra income to participate in it. It’s definitely taken a hit over the last couple of years. I think during the boom, for the most part, we definitely overbuilt. There were too many golf courses being built to handle the number of players. More courses will close than new ones open again this year. … I think ultimately it will settle and golf will be just fine.