He’s added the role of general manager to his new position at Shadow Mountain Golf Course near Cranbrook, B.C., the latest in a wide range of positions that Rob Anderson has used to learn the business of golf “from the ground up” and he means that literally.
As a player on the Canadian Tour from 1994-97, Anderson, who was recently named the Canadian PGA’s Teacher of the Year for 2008, worked on the grounds crew at The Harvest Golf Club in Kelowna, B.C., before and after the tour’s season to make a little extra cash, but it wasn’t anything he planned to do full-time.
Anderson’s dream was to be a tour player, but his priorities changed with his wife Shellan expecting their first born daughter Holly, who was later joined in the clan by her sister Brooke.
Seeking a more stable environment for a young family, Anderson began his journey to becoming a head professional when he moved into the golf shop at The Harvest.
While the touring side may seem to be a completely different aspect of being a professional, Anderson says his time on tour in some ways prepared him for the club side.
“Certainly, managing your time – life skills, really,” he said of what he learned on tour. “It’s kind of like when you’re going from high school to college. You’ve relied on your parents and your siblings to guide you along and now you’re out on the road and you’ve got to figure it out for yourself.”
“Things like scheduling, the amount of practice time that you should have versus playing time, being able to manage your time away from the course and between tournaments,” he said. “All the travel and things you have to do as a tour pro certainly help you out in managing your time as a club pro.
“Whether you’re mainly teaching or a head pro, you’re scheduling your staff,” he added. “As a general manager, that’s a little different again – you’ve got to become a little bit more visionary and think further ahead as to all of the many tasks and little details that have to get looked after.”
Those lessons were also beneficial at the beginning of last season when he established Rob Anderson’s Golf Academy at The Harvest, a facility where his sister, former LPGA Tour player Gail Graham, had run a golf school for women.
The establishment of his own academy was a refreshing experience, one that he would like to continue by keeping his hand in teaching this year at Shadow Mountain, which he joined late last year.
“It was really a lot of fun, a lot of administrative stuff, setting up all your different programs, even right down to all the point of sale stuff, getting that set up correctly,” he said of the behind-the-scenes duties in setting up a golf school.
“Once that’s in place, all of the group lessons – be it ladies or juniors, all the summer camps, the Future Links things – it was a real blast. What a change from regular head pro duties,” said Anderson, who has been a regional coach within the Royal Canadian Golf Association’s player development program.
“(National women’s coach) Dean Spriddle is a good friend and any opportunity that Dean had for me to be involved in some of the national stuff,” said Anderson, a big believer in the CN Future Links program and the Long Term Player Development (LTPD) introduced last year.
“That’s essentially what a lot of my junior stuff was last year, a combination of the CN Future Links program, along with the Long Term Player Development program from the RCGA,” said Anderson, who says his support of such programs is based on the evolution that has happened since he was a developing player.
“It comes from having experienced what was there previously, as an up-and-coming junior and amateur player not really having any of that support, so for it to be there now, you wish you had that kid of support when you were a kid growing up because, really, it was you and your club pro and that was about it.”
Anderson adds that, when putting together programs last year, he was sensitive to affordability for certain groups and whether they would be more comfortable in group environments or smaller classes. Duration of lessons was another important consideration for people such as seniors.
With juniors, he also included fun to the mix while still working on athletic skills through exercises such as ball tossing, target practices, agility exercises and running, among others.
“You’ve got to make it fun, especially for the little kids. Our youngest group is four to six years old. You can’t spend an hour hitting balls with them. Half that time is developing those skills while having fun,” explained Anderson, who says times have changed for juniors since he grew up in Winnipeg.
“When Gail and I first started, it was as a junior member at a private club in Winnipeg, St. Charles. It was a family thing. You grew up as a range rat and you went around the golf course a bazillion times. That’s not quite the case anymore. People are doing things a little bit different,” he said.
“It was certainly easier for us to stay a little bit more focused,” he added. “If you’re not in school or you’re not just hanging out watching TV after school, what else did you do? Nothing. There was no Nintendo or XBox or whatever.
“Golf is still that funny game where, when people really start to enjoy it, they really get hooked, but there definitely are a few more distractions for the teens these days,” said Anderson.