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Geoff RedgraveGeoff is a Certified Professional in Golf Operations and the 2016 MAPGA Merchandiser of the Year in the resort category). He is also the former Director of Instruction at PGA National Resort & Spa located in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Additionally, Geoff also worked at the Tam-O-Shanter Club located on Long Island, NY. 

Geoff’s instructional background includes numerous game and player development golf schools and lessons at to PGA National Resort and Wintergreen Resort. Geoff is also a 2016 Member of the Titleist Golf Professional Staff.  

Geoff’s playing experience has taken him around the country competing on numerous mini-tours including the Dakotas Tour and the Tommy Armour Tour in Central Florida. Additionally, Geoff has competed in multiple state opens, MAPGA and Met PGA Section events. Geoff has won a South Florida Assistants tournament on the Champion Course that PGA National, current home to the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic and most recently finished runner up in the 2014 MAPGA Senior Match Play tournament.  

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Growing up baseball was my primary sport. Out of high school, I was drafted by the Cleveland Indians but turned them down. I wanted to play collegiate baseball and got a baseball scholarship to the University of North Carolina and ultimately finished my baseball career at the University of Delaware. During the summers played in the Valley League located in Waynesboro, VA, just over the hill from Wintergreen. While there, I borrowed some golf clubs and went to the driving range to try to figure out the sport. Hooked immediately. I finished my baseball career at the University of Delaware and then decided to pursue golf. 

I like golf because you can play every day and don’t need a team.

Interestingly, I  landed at Wintergreen — just over the hill from my first golf experience in Waynesboro. I didn’t know about Wintergreen back then. 

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MATT WARD: What makes golf compelling at Wintergreen compared to other nearby locations?  

Devils Knob Hole #16

Devils Knob
Hole #16

GEOFF REDGRAVE: Wintergreen, with its two signature courses – Devils Knob on top of the mountain and Stoney Creek in the valley, offer golfers two distinct and unique golf experiences at one location. The Ellis Maples mountain course is tree lined and with narrow fairway corridors with fast greens, challenging the golfer to navigate playable tee shots and possess adept putting skills.  Stoney Creek, a Rees Jones design with its three nines, offers the golfer challenge off the tee but more importantly, precision with the approach shots, to get the ball in the right areas of the undulating greens to make putts. 

MW: What lessons were learned from The Great Recession and how is Wintergreen approaching the golf scene now? 

GR: Every round of golf is coveted at Wintergreen – we offer day visitor incentives — early in the season – buy one, get one and 3 play passes – and off-time discounts. Appreciation rate specials on Thursdays and Sunday afternoons at Stoney Creek so we are better able to provide a broader audience of golfers at the course. The Devils Knob Course – exclusive to members, their guests and resort guests only – provides a member feature at a resort which assists in membership sales. 

MW: Wintergreen is rather unique in having two (2) distinct golf offerings — Devil’s Knob and Stoney Creek — vastly different in terms of architectural styles and locations. How helpful is it to have such distinctive courses? 

GR: Having two styles of golf courses enhances the golf experience and attracts package and resort play through its use of different golf experiences at one resort.   

MW: What are the challenges in handling the daily needs of members — which Wintergreen has — and for those coming to the facility via a stay’n play connection? 

GR: No real challenge to balancing the members and resort guests, as all are treated with the same respect and attentiveness. Members are allowed advance tee times which offers them the tee times they want but with 45 holes of golf, there is plenty of capacity on the courses. 

MW: Golf is going through major generational change — baby boomers are quickly fading from active golf involvement and not being replaced to the same degree by Millennials, women and minorities. What steps is Wintergreen taking to attract such groups to the sport? 

wgr-fathersongolfGR: Wintergreen has a number of programs in place that are contributing to its popularity with all types of golfers.  The family perspective is of particular importance as the resort boasts its family friendly atmosphere. Such proactive efforts include — Try 3, Family Fun 9, and specific instructional programs offer something golf related to all.  The resort also highlights specific specials in accordance with the PGA of America – women’s golf month, junior golf month, family golf month and other programming specials such as Nike junior golf camps and junior golf and tennis programs that develop new young golfers. The golf staff also has women only play dates and instructional clinics to foster grow the game initiatives and invites golfers of all ages to participate. 

MW: You could change one thing in golf unilaterally — what would it be? 

GR: Make the rules of golf easier for the everyday golfer to understand and soften up on golf etiquette. 

MW: One of the main points of emphasis for golf facilities is concentrating on customer service. Define the term and the approach followed at Wintergreen? 

GR: Customer Service is addressing the need(s) of the member and/or guest with anything they may need, from entry to exit, while they are on the property to play golf.  Guest service attendants are posted at the bag drop at both facilities to greet the member or guest and ensure golf bags are loaded on a golf cart and any questions upon arrival are answered. 

Stoney Creek Tuckahoe Hole #1

Stoney Creek Tuckahoe Hole #1

During registration, members and guest are greeted by attentive golf shop staff and sent to the starter to be placed on the golf course for their respective tee time. In the meantime, drinks and food are offered by the snack shop/restaurant attendee(s), golf apparel and equipment is offered if needed in the shop, and the golfer is offered a clean practice facility to warm up before their round. Upon the completion of their round, attendants and golf staff will ask how their round went and promptly load their bags in their cars if needed.  Any issues or experiences good or bad can be handled by a golf professional on the premises. 

MW: What ways does Wintergreen solicit customer feedback and how is such feedback incorporated into the day-to-day efforts? 

GR: Guest surveys are conducted throughout the various lines of business and reviewed weekly in staff meetings. Any feedback that warrants the golf professional to follow up is addressed and if needed, a phone call is performed.  These surveys allow golf – – and other business lines –to look introspectively at their respective operations to see if any change is warranted to better perform and provide service.  

MW: The biggest challenge facing Wintergreen in terms of its golf product is what? What steps are now being taken to address those situations? 

GR: Wintergreen golf is forty years old. Along with establishing a great reputation in the area, the challenges of being forty requires the need to meet the expectations of the golfer in the 21st century. Course conditioning, equipment, irrigation and clubhouse amenity upgrades are the challenges that not only Wintergreen Resort faces but all golf course/clubs are challenged with.  Upgrades are not inexpensive, and with golf as a whole stagnant in terms of rounds played, it is sometimes difficult to invest in a slow moving product. 

MW: Best advice you ever received — what was it and who provided it to you?

GR: Over the years I’ve received lots of good advice — but one sticks out. A former mentor and PGA professional Mickey Gallagher, Jr., said to, “Always keep your shoes clean because you golf student looks down at them more than he looks up at you!” True statement. 

 

Wintergreen is located on the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains Virginia. For info go to: www.wintergreenresort.com

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