Vince Runyon joined Omni Mount Washington as Director of Golf in June 2016. Vince is originally from Logon WV and an alumnus of Marshall University. He moved to Naples FL in 1985 to get into the golf business and entered the PGA Apprentice Program. He served as an assistant golf professional at Country Club of Naples, Windstar on Naples Bay and The Vineyards Golf & Country Club. Vince was elected into membership of the PGA of America in 1989. He has served as the Head Golf Professional at Embassy Woods Golf & Country Club in Naples. He is currently the Director of Golf at both Lake Fairways Golf & Country Club and Pine Lakes Golf & Country Club in N. Ft. Myers, FL in the winter months and the Director of Golf at Omni Mount Washington Resort at Bretton Woods in the summer months.Vince has been married to his college sweetheart Joy for 30 years. They have four children and two grandchildren who all live in Naples.
I was introduced to the game of golf by my grandfather, Vincent Ferzacca. He was never a very good player but enjoyed the game and the socializing that went along with it. My grandfather always stressed to me that it was important to play golf for business reasons. He also told me that if I could play and play well that it would open up a lot of doors in the business world.
So the summer before my senior year in college I was alone late one evening at the Logan CC putting on the practice green when the golf pro pulled up on a golf cart. Phil — that was his first name — told me he just got a brand new set of Palmer irons and asked me to go out and hit them with him. We stayed out there so late and it was so dark we couldn’t even tell if the greenside bunker shots we were hitting were even on the green.
The next morning I got in the car and went back to the country club. As I walked into the golf shop Phil said “What’s going on? You were the last one here last night and the first one here this morning”? I told him “Prosie — that’s what everyone called him — I’ve decided I want to get into the golf business and be a club pro like you.” His response was “No you really don’t want to get into the business — the days are way too long and you never get to play!” I said to him, “No, last night I realized this is what I really want to do.” Prosie gave me the phone number for the PGA and told me about the PGA Apprentice program. I then got into the car and went to my Grandfather’s office to share the good news!
I’ll never forget what happened next. My Grandfather was sitting at his desk, I sat down and announced “Pap. I have finally figured out what I want to do with my life.” My grandfather tossed his pen onto his desk, leaned back in his chair and said “What’s that, son”? I replied “Pap, I want to be a club pro!” The man I loved and admired, who had raised me when I was a little boy. The one who had always stressed to me that you need to play and play well. The same man who got to church every morning before the priest arrived looked me right in the eye and said “Son, have you lost your *** mind”?
Well, needless to say, I was very surprised. I had never before or ever again heard my Grandfather say anything like that. Long story short, I moved to Florida and got into the golf business. I actually have tears in my eyes as I write this thinking of my Grandfather. He was very happy for me and proud of my decision. When I got my first assistants job in 1985 I loved it so much I really couldn’t believe that someone actually paid me money to go to work every day. Now, 36 years later, I’m blessed to find myself at such a beautiful place as The Omni Mount Washington Resort and still have that same feeling every day when I go to work.
MATT WARD: How is the 2016 season faring thus far?
VINCE RUNYON: Great. Best conditions in 5 years according to Golf Superintendant Dave Ousterhout because of the mild winter and early growing season. Echoed in many guests comments.
MW: What’s the average length of stay this year and how does that compare to last year?
VR: 2.5 days — pretty much in line with 2015.
MW: What is the target area for the bulk of those who come to the facility?
VR: Greater Boston for lodging/packages, and 60 miles for day guests.
MW: For those who stay on the international side — where do most come from and what is the rough percentage in that overall category?
VR: Visitors from Canada and the UK make up the majority of international guests — totaling under 5% of overall guests.
MW: What’s the biggest challenge for facilities like Mount Washington?
VR: When it comes to golf, a harsh winter and short growing season can affect early season play. However this year, the mild winter allowed earlier growing season and excellent early season conditions.
MW: Curious to know — what is the approximate percentage for those staying at the facility that actually reserve time on the golf course?
VR: Approximately 50/50 resort guests and members vs. public golf play. Unable to provide % of overall resort guests who play.
MW: Many facilities are making concerted efforts in terms of customer service. Define what the term means to you?
VR: Omni’s “Power of One” allows all associates to make decisions that benefit our guests and enhance the overall guest experience.
MW: What specific actions are carried forward by management when customers do provide comments?
VR: We take all guests comments very seriously — our managers address areas of concern directly with those providing the commentary.
MW: Mount Washington represents a clear era when large type facilities attracted those from the key metro areas — such as Boston. The competition is much more intense than ever — what separate the facility from others?
VR: A true grand resort that has stood the test of time, concerted efforts in the revitalization of the property with over $90 million in property investment over the last 10 years included the full restoration of the award-winning Donald Ross-designed Mt. Washington Course.
MW: For those in the lodging business what kind of efforts will be needed in the future in order to remain above and beyond what others are similarly trying to do?
VR: Excellence in customer service and unique guest experiences. Omni’s commitment in these areas has resulted in the second consecutive year of topping the J.D. Power North American Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index StudySM among upper-upscale hotel brands.
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