Whether it’s through longevity or quality of work, sometimes it’s natural to associate a person with the place that has employed him or her.
In the case of Kevin Thistle, it was for both reasons that he became a familiar face and voice at Angus Glen Golf Club in Markham, Ont. Thistle announced yesterday that he had resigned as president of Angus Glen to become general manager of Coppinwood in nearby Uxbridge.
Cailey Stollery, daughter of Angus Glen owner Gordon Stollery, will serve as Angus Glen president in the interim. All of the Stollery family will have a place in his heart, according to Thistle.
“I could go on for hours about how much I love Angus Glen,” said Thistle, 46, whose home touches on to that golf course. “Gordon Stollery has been unbelievable to me. Cailey Stollery, the staff at Angus, it’s like family. I was a kid when I joined Angus Glen. My two boys were born there and raised there.
“It’s a very emotional decision. I let Gordon know and I broke down,” said Thistle, who first joined Angus Glen in 1993 as head professional and moved to director of golf, general manager, vice president and president.
“I thanked (Stollery) for helping me grow into the golf pro and the golf marketer that I am and for helping me every step of the way, for helping my family. I have a wonderful life, I have a wonderful family and Angus Glen was a huge part of that,” he said.
During Thistle’s stay, Angus Glen hosted the 2002 and 2007 Canadian Opens, the 2001 Canadian Women’s Open and the 2001 Skins Game. Angus Glen also opened a new North Course after the original South Course opened in 1995 and received several honours from national and international publications.
Thistle’s promotional skills played an important role in Angus Glen becoming one of the most popular high end facilities in the Toronto areas, known particularly for drawing corporate tournaments and events through not only its golf product, but also its customer service.
The challenge at Coppinwood will be in stark contrast to his experience at Angus Glen. Coppinwood recently went through an ownership change after financial difficulties and is now owned by a group of members. It’s believed that Thistle will get some equity in Coppinwood as part of his deal.
His focus will now be on recruiting new members to the private facility, a Tom Fazio design that is three years old.
“I think, with the restructuring, they’re in a great position to attract members now. It’s a great golf course, a great facility,” he said, admitting that the cost of membership has dropped significantly with the new group of owners, but he says his enthusiasm goes beyond price.
“The new ownership group has said, `Hey, we’re committed to this long term and we want to build a great place.’
“The culture there is unbelievable. I’ve played in the member-guest the last couple of years there. I know 30-40 members personally and it’s just a wonderful group, it’s an exciting group. They’re just a bunch of dynamic people who love golf,” said Thistle.
“To me, we’re writing a new chapter. Coppinwood is a blank canvas right now.”