The Corner Office With Kent Blaschko – The Royal Club
By Rhett Arens
Tee Times introduced a feature back in 2017 where we provide readers a look into the thinking and personality of people in golf industry leadership roles. In this issue we sit down with Kent Blaschko – Head Golf Professional at The Royal Club. Kent is excited to dig into the Minnesota golf business after spending a number of years at several Top 100 Courses in the U.S. With that background, he perfectly poised to deliver excellence on a top-notch customer experience. Fourteen questions, fourteen answers… we hope you enjoy it.
How long have you been in the golf business and how did you get your start? Since 1990 (30+ years). My good friend and college roommate Tom Reith, along with his father and longtime Edina CC Professional Bob Reith, Jr., had a big influence on my decision to get into the golf business after college.
Was there an ‘aha moment’ when you realized this is a good gig? I was in my early 30’s and recently named Head Golf Professional at Haig Point Club. I was having a conversation with one of my members who also belonged to Pine Valley and he said, you know, you are probably one of the youngest Head Golf Professionals in the country at a Top 100 Club. I had never considered it at the time… but it has always stuck with me.
How would you describe your golf game? Bookends… I can still drive the ball and my putting has always been a strong suit. The middle parts (approach shots and short game) are sometimes a head scratcher and never fail to fall short of my expectations… which are most likely part of the problem.
Is there a pet peeve about the game you would like to get off your chest? Golfers that feel the need to play in denim… even though golf facilities have relaxed their dress codes over the past 10-15 years to accommodate most. I will probably never embrace a dress code that permits a golfer to tee it up when they look like they should be doing yard work.
Do you have any hero’s in the game? Arnold Palmer – “The King.” He always personified charisma, dignity, and has had an unrivaled social impact on the game of golf. He changed the perception that golf was only for the upper class and created a life-sport that appealed to all… Arnie’s Army!
Thinking back what is the most memorable moment in recent PGA history? The “Tiger Slam.” Holding all four Majors in succession at the age of 24 was something we might never see again.
Is there a trend or pattern in the game of golf you would like to see changed? Some Minnesota High School Golf Programs struggle to find enough participants to create a competitive team. I know there are many programs in place to help kids access golf, but student golfers are not always willing to put in the work required to get better.
What is your opinion about the health of the state-of-the-game? There are encouraging golf industry trends that are a result of improvements in making the game more diverse, and on the forefront of technology. Operators need to continue to be progressive and find innovative means to connect with the younger players.
What is the strangest player mishap or misstep to take place at your course? When announcing the results of a Ladies Guest Day, I was explaining how a scorecard playoff would be used to determine a tie. I incorrectly said in front of over 100 women, “the player with the lowest backside” rather than the lowest back nine, would be the winner… a lady promptly shouted, “I have the lowest backside in the room. Do I win?” A lot of laughs at my expense.
What makes you most happy when considering the customers who play your course? When a golfer comes in after completing their round and says they were treated very well by the entire staff, had a great time and can’t wait until their next visit.
Do you consider yourself a golf purist or wide-open to new rules and regulations? I have always been a traditionalist but find myself more often now embracing the new rules and looking for ways to increase the overall fun and enjoyment for our customers and members.
Who do you consider the greatest golfer of all-time and why? Probably Jack Nicklaus on record alone, but Tiger Woods is close. Time will tell if he can reach greater milestones and add a few more majors… maybe Tiger?
Do you have a course in Minnesota or Wisconsin you consider highly underrated? The fact that many think the Royal Club is totally private makes it highly underrated. Although, the Royal Club offers a fantastic golf experience and private club feel, being accessible to all golfers and spreading that message is of highest priority.
The single best reason for spending 4+ hours chasing a little white ball? Minnesota has some of the best weather in the country during the summer. Getting outside and enjoying the natural setting with family and friends always outweighs some of the frustrations we all experience while playing this great game.