Tom Abts, Thinking And Living Outside The Box

By Tim Ryan

One of the many responsibilities of a PGA Professional is to impact every golfer’s life, inspiring their passion for the game of golf. Whether through directing in the workplace, providing guidance, teaching, or advising on personal issues, the late and great Henry Picard, PGA, did each with nothing less than perfection in mind. Ultimately, “Pic,” as he was called if you were a friend of his, was the epitome of what the PGA of America wanted in a Professional as it grew in membership. “Honest. Dedicated. Loyal.”

Thus, the ultimate compliment for a golfer to give their PGA Pro is to regard him as a “Pic”. Tom Abts, PGA Head Professional and General Manager at Deer Run in Victoria deserves this recognition! Not in the sense that Mr. Abts is a former superstar golfer, like “The Hershey Hurricane” was in the 1920’s and thirties, but because he is a champion golf ambassador as a PGA Professional. Asked to describe his colleague, MN PGA President Paul Kelley said “When I think of Tom Abts, I think of the consummate PGA Professional.” True. “He is one of the most skilled promoters of golf in the country, and his creativity is impressive,” the PGA Head Professional at Bent Creek said in reference to the abundance of excitability that Tom has created at Deer Run. “There is no doubt that many people go to play there just to see Tom,” the excellent leader proclaimed about his peer. “We are very, very fortunate to have the man in the Minnesota PGA.” True.

So, what makes Tom Abts such a quality PGA Professional? Well, for starters, he is honest. It is clear that he has earned the respect of his staff, membership, and the golfing public because of his sincere and genuine leadership approach, built on the foundation of honesty and openness. “The man is a wunderkind,” his top assistant, Bennett Lang, said of his mentor. “I cannot even begin to explain how talented of a communicator and leader he is.”

The second trait that makes Tom stand out is his dedication to our game. “Golf is the greatest game ever invented, and I love and respect it more each day,” he said with fervor from his comfortable office in the attic of the Deer Run clubhouse. “I was here at 4:30 a.m. today, if that tells you anything about how passionate and committed I am to making the day enjoyable for all who come to play Deer Run.”

Another reason that Mr. Abts is a top notch PGA Professional, who deserves major praise and recognition, is his loyalty. Nearly two decades ago, Tom joined Deer Run, which was then a struggling facility not accustomed to promoting golf. Since then, he has resurrected it from just another golf course into “a place that I have had a vision about since way back in my college days, full of friends, family, and fun.”

Mr. Abts’ excitability is really what makes him so special. On a recent Friday while Deer Run had over 300 golfers tee it up, Tom mingled with the crowd on the packed patio outside of the clubhouse, making certain that the corporate outing was satisfied with the way their day had gone. “Did you have a good time?” he excitedly asked one of the tournament hosts. “Tom, you are the best,” she said with total sincerity. Approaching one of the participants in the event, he put his hands on the man’s shoulders and gave him a quick wake up massage. “Is there anything more we can do for you?” the “Pro in the know” inquired. The guest got up out of his chair, turned to Tom, and said “this day couldn’t have been any better-YOU DA MAN!” True.

So, how has the man become a champion golf ambassador at a place that was on the brink of extinction until he swept in and made the changes necessary to turn it into a viable golf destination? “All I try to do here is make sure that people are getting what we promise them,” he said. “And what we promise them is a positive experience from the time they roll into the parking lot, until the time they cruise on out of here.” This guarantee is delivered upon daily, because Tom Abts would have it no other way. “It is not rocket science,” he said of golf promoting and course operations. “As in any business, you have to think outside the box and evolve as a group to be successful.”

Tom Abts is honest, dedicated, loyal, and excitable. He is one of the most skilled PGA Professionals that Minnesota has ever seen, and is the epitome of what the PGA of America had in mind when it first began. The man is a modern day Pic!

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