By BOB SUTTON
With the ideal set-up to have a home site, officials with the Carolinas Section of the PGA decided the best way to go about that was to return home.
By agreeing to lease about a 3-acre piece of property at Bryan Park Golf & Conference Center in Greensboro, the group is essentially coming home.
“The best thing to say about it is we’re moving home,” said Ron Schmid, who is executive director of the Carolinas PGA. “That’s where the first golf professionals met. It was founded in Greensboro.”
The relocation from Myrtle Beach, S.C., to the Triad should open avenues for more golf events in the region.
“A home site will allow you to be near a golf course where you can develop a relationship,” Schmid said. “We want to develop a home site, not just an office.”
By the end of the year, the organization will be running its operations out of Greensboro. With that, the region should benefit from the proximity of this group, which represents more than 800 golf facilities in North Carolina, South Carolina and a sliver of southern Virginia.
“To have the CPGA to be at our front door, it is in itself going to elevate Bryan Park,” said Kyle Kolls, who is general manager and director of golf at Bryan Park. “It seemed like the perfect fit and we can join together and make this all work. What all this entails is yet to unfold.”
The CPGA casts a wide net of services to PGA golf pros that includes instructional opportunities, junior programs, merchandising, tournament organization and rules oversight.
The potential for the region is enormous, said Chris Haarlow of Precision Golf.
“We’ll literally be neighbors,” said Haarlow, who teaches at Bryan Park’s practice facility. “It’s going to be wonderful to have them. I could see us working on some golf development programs. Getting new people to the game, getting equipment, getting instruction. We look at the junior programs and what it could do.”
Haarlow, who’s also president of the Triad Youth Golf Foundation, said he expects that there will be countless opportunities to collaborate with the CPGA on youth golf initiatives.
“It’s about getting kids access to the game,” Haarlow said. “There are different ways for kids to have access. We’re going to be able to have those opportunities.”
Kolls said Bryan Park’s 36 holes, practice facility and conference center make it an ideal arrangement for some of the CPGA’s potential activities. He said he anticipates the conference center can be used for meetings and seminars.
“We’re hoping and speculating there are great possibilities ahead and it’s a win for Greensboro, too,” said Kolls, who pointed out that his staff members have expressed excitement about what’s to come.
Haarlow said the outreach to the community is what intrigues him along with the increased networking that’s bound to accompany the section’s move. He said the possibility of running pilot programs for the CPGA should have great benefits to the area.
Schmid said his organization will continue to offer services throughout its footprint. To some degree, the exact location of the main office isn’t vital to the group’s membership.
Nonetheless, there are bound to be benefits — whether intended or not — to the facilities that are closest to the headquarters.
Logistics often factor into decisions about future tournaments, Schmid said. He listed several events — North Carolina Open, Carolinas Open, Section PGA championship, Pro-Assistant championship, Head Pro championship, Pro-Officials championship, Carolinas PGA Junior championship — that could be conducted in the Triad more often as a matter of convenience.
The region’s rich golf tradition also became a factor in the relocation, Schmid said. He said he likes the possibilities that could develop with the PGA Tour’s Wyndham Championship in Greensboro.
The CPGA’s annual merchandise show is one of its major events. The show is scheduled for 2012 and 2013 at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center. But Schmid said he already has been in discussions involving the potential for future shows at the Greensboro Coliseum’s Special Events Center.
It’s a winter event and it has been held for 18 years, with attendance approximately 2,000 for some years, according to organizers. The merchandise show is held in conjunction with the CPGA’s annual meeting and awards dinner. Seminars are also part of the event, which is normally held across a three-day period.
Schmid said a permanent location for the CPGA office was needed and thus a 40-year contract for a lease was agreed upon with Greensboro. The new headquarters will be located at the main entrance to Bryan Park’s two courses.
“You tend to stay in facilities that work out for you,” he said.
Just the visual impact of being located at a golf facility is bound to bolster the opportunities for the CPGA and add to convenience in many cases, Schmid said.
With an emphasis placed on work with junior programs, having the office at a golf course should enhance teaching programs. Further, Schmid said an association with the Joseph M. Bryan Foundation is a bonus.
“That’s going to be good to join hand-in-hand with that foundation and what they stand for,” Schmid said.
Roots for the CPGA were established in Greensboro in the 1923. Later, the headquarters shifted to Durham, where the group stayed until 1976.
Schmid said the organization sold Myrtle Beach property about four years ago and moved to other offices near Grand Dunes. Without easy access to a golf course, the organization’s headquarters lost some of its golf flavor.
The operations will remain in Myrtle Beach until November, when those will be moved to a temporary location in Greensboro until a permanent 5,000-square-foot structure is ready for use at Bryan Park.
Schmid, who has been on board in his position since 1999, said part of the agreement with the City of Greensboro regarding the lease is that there will be at least eight full-time staffers working at the headquarters. Now, the CPGA roster includes nine full-time employees. Schmid said individuals will have to determine if they want to relocate to remain part of the organization.
Bryan Park has been the venue for several significant golf events on the amateur and collegiate levels, highlighted last summer by being the site of the U.S. Amateur Publinks Championship.