Course manager all about teamwork
July 28, 2011
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Operating a golf course is no simple task. Mike McDonald just makes it look that way.
But the golf course manager of Eagle’s Pride on Joint Base Lewis-McChord refuses to take full credit for the course’s success. Even when McDonald was recently awarded the James A. Carroll/Excellence in Management award, he deflected the accolades to his staff and volunteers.
“I understand there’s a captain of a ship or someone in charge,” McDonald said. “But you’re only as good as your employees.”
The Army established the annual award in 1991 to recognize outstanding managers of golf, bowling, leisure travel and recycling operations.
A true believer in teamwork, McDonald has led by example in his three seasons as course manager at Eagle’s Pride. Of course he can be found in his office drinking Diet Coke in the morning while handling the administrative side of things, but he also can be found cleaning golf carts, sweeping the bathroom floor and completing other mundane tasks around the course. An employee recently missed a day in the pro shop, and rather than finding someone to cover the shift, McDonald called his wife and explained he would be home late and worked until closing in the shop.
“A lot of people want to just run a golf course without being hands-on,” McDonald said. “We do whatever it takes to make this place functional, operational and open for the public.”
That philosophy has fueled Eagle’s Pride success. And since McDonald has been at the helm, the success continues to grow. Eagle’s Pride had a record year in 2010 with 55,000 rounds, an increase of 10,000 annual rounds since McDonald’s first year. Eagle’s Pride PGA Pro Eric Bowen credits the growth to McDonald’s early addition of seasonal golfing specials.
“It was probably the No. 1 idea that helped springboard us to all the other ideas,” Bowen said.
Bowen was McDonald’s first hire as manager. He shares his manager’s knowledge of course maintenance, but Bowen also learns from his boss.
“He’s a young soul,” Bowen said. “He knows how to get the best out of all kinds of people and he has the military background. He has the military understanding of how a military golf course works.”
Eagle’s Pride is on JBLM, but it is open to the public.
McDonald has worked with golf in various capacities since the 1970s. While he was the special events and sponsorship coordinator for Fort Lewis for 15 years, his love has always been golf.
McDonald and his team are the reason behind many of the recent improvements made to Eagle’s Pride. While he doesn’t do his job for public recognition, he receives satisfaction in a golfer’s experiences on the course.
“The biggest reward I get out here is when somebody walks in and says, ‘I haven’t played this course in five years. It’s in such phenomenal shape,’” he said.
And then there are the four magic words that validate that sentiment even more. “I will be back.”