Sweet Music At Deer Run Golf Club

By R.J. Smiley

If Deer Run Golf Club were a symphony orchestra it would make incredible music.

The audience who witnesses the performance of a fine symphony orchestra become infatuated and actually feels the music. The outstanding music is the product of professional musicians working together. The conductor (or director) is also the orchestra manager who selects only musicians who grasp “his rendition” of Beethoven’s Fifth. The conductor must select musicians who buy into his rendition or “GET it.”

During a recent conversation with Tom Abts, Deer Run’s award winning General Manager and Head Professional, we had a long discussion about his staff. The comparison with a symphony orchestra became apparent. Tom, a self described “control freak” explained to me, “I have a vision for Deer Run. My staff is, by far the best I have ever had, have bought into that vision. ‘They ‘GET it.’ My job is simple, I market Deer Run Golf Club to golfers and let my great staff play the music.”

Tom’s orchestra is a collection of individuals who form a seamless unit that create perfect music (golf experience) working together.

Tom’s comments on key personnel:

“I played at LeSueur CC years ago and couldn’t believe the immaculate conditions. When I finally convinced Barry Provo, my superintendent, to come to Deer Run, I became the most hated man in LeSueur. Barry, a good golfer who has won multiple state superintendent golf championships, is a perfectionist. He insists on cutting the cups himself every morning. He grew up in Richfield and has become a combination scientist and artist. He GETS it…. and DOES it.”

“With the broad-based experience gained working at Torrey Pines in San Diego then co-managing Angel Park in Las Vegas and Rush Creek in Plymouth, Lori Money, Assistant Golf Pro and Business Manager sees the big picture. Yet, she pays attention to details. Lori grew up in Appleton, WI where she was a star golfer and basketball player. She went west to pursue mini-tour golf and landed at Torrey Pines. She’s another Deer Run staff member who GETS it.”

“F&B Director, Heidi Breen, spent most of her career in college fundraising. She became acquainted with Deer Run while running a golf event fundraiser at our course. Heidi was a high school tennis star in Benson, MN and then sang in the choir at Concordia College. She possesses great social skills and is a cleanliness fanatic. Golf events, that are an important part of our business, love her and her unusually friendly and talented staff. Another one who GETS it.”

“Nick Peters, who doubles as a Golf Shop assistant and Event coordinator, is a 3 handicap who loves the golf business. Nick, a Hastings boy, ran golf tournaments for Twin Cities Golf for several years. He has a knack for customer service, keeping the Pro Shop organized, and setting up golf events. Another one who GETS it.”

“Shelley Esse, in charge of our flowers and landscaping, is an artist… who likes to get her hands dirty. Our flower gardens are phenomenal – especially for a public golf course. For her, Deer Run is a labor of love. Again – she GETS it.”

“Kasey Liebeg, who grew up in the Deer Run neighborhood and played golf for Chanhassen High School is a student at St. Thomas. Kasey works in the Pro Shop and coordinates the high school kids who work the carts and bag drop. With a deep understanding of Deer Run’s unique culture, Kasey is wise beyond his years. He GETS it.”

“The first person most customers encounter as they walk into the pro shop is Jim Werre. Jim grew up in Moorhead, MN and was a star hockey player and golfer. Jim, a former PGA pro who ran the Braemar Golf Shop for over 30 years, definitely GETS it.”

“Bob Elfering is the grandfather of Minnesota Wild hockey star Ryan Suter. Bob owned a driving range in St. Cloud and understands the golf business. Bob is extremely personable and GETS it.”

“Mike Nelson, who runs the Senior League and is our Handicap Chairman, is a former football star. After his career in education, Mike was part owner of a golf course in South Texas where he went through the trials and tribulations of golf course ownership. He GETS it.”

“Developing people skills during a career as a bartender at Bunny’s, T-Wright’s, and Maynards, Mike Thompson brings his big personality to the Pro Shop. Mike knows everyone in the west metro. He GETS it.”

“Dennis Miller lives in the Deer Run neighborhood and opens the clubhouse every morning. He’s the consummate handyman and makes sure that the clubhouse, the carts, and the driving range are in working order. He GETS it.”

“Obviously there are many other staff members – rangers, starters, food service, maintenance staff. But these people are the main stays. As you can see… they all GET it. I’m very lucky and blessed to have such a staff.”

The next time you visit Deer Run Golf Club shut your eyes and feel the music, there is an incredible orchestra behind the scenes.

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