Golf Executive of the Year Ruehling, Assistant Professional of the Year Tomczuk, Owens Wins Sales Representative-
Ruehling Wins 2023 Golf Executive of the Year
Riverside, Iowa – Matt Ruehling of Des Moines Golf and Country Club has been named the 2023 Iowa PGA Golf Executive of the Year. This honor “PGA Golf Executive of the Year Award” bestows special recognition on a PGA Golf Professional who has performed outstanding services for a multiple facility/course management/ownership operation, Allied Association or golf industry executive management position. As one of the highest honors the PGA can bestow, candidates must possess outstanding qualities of leadership, vision, courage, strong moral character, and a substantial record of service to the Association and the game of golf. Individuals honored with the PGA Golf Executive of the Year award will be held as a model PGA Golf Professional.
When asked on what this means to win this award Ruehling responded with, “It is always exciting to be recognized by your peers. Winning this award is much less about me and more about the team we have in place at Des Moines Golf and Country Club. Our team approach has allowed us to accomplish many wonderful things over the past year. I’m fortunate to work with such a great group of people on a daily basis.”
Ruehling has more than 23 years of progressive experience in the private club industry. Exceptional ability to manage productive relationships with Board of Directors, members, guests, employees and community. Highly visible leader who believes in being an integral part of daily operations; observe first-hand opportunities for continual improvement and facilitate a culture that ensures both employee engagement and member satisfaction.
He is responsible for a 36-hole private club with ten department heads and he will oversee over 500 employees who will work at the Club on an annual basis. He reports to a 14-member Board of Directors, he has helped execute the agreed upon goals and policies each year.
Ruehling took over as General Manager/Chief Operating Officer of Des Moines Golf and Country Club in 2020, replacing a long tenured and well-respected GM/COO. Since starting in 2020, they have been able to lead the Club through the COVID pandemic and guide them through a extensive renovation that touched both the golf pro shop and dining facilities.
He is currently a member of the Iowa PGA Board of Directors and also serves as President for the Iowa Tall Corn Chapter of the Club Management Association of America. He has been a part of the CMAA Board for three years. For the past two years he has also been the CMAA representative to the Iowa Golf Council.
Leading an organization with over 500 individuals employed annually that has 1500 memberships (encompassing 4,500 people) can be a difficult task. It’s essential to have a target or a plan and it is hard to lead a group of people (employees or members) if there isn’t a plan. Once the plan is in place, with input from both members and staff, they allow each department the freedom to execute. They then make sure to hold them accountable for that execution.
There is a big difference between being a leader and a manager/boss. As a leader he makes sure to coach his team and develop their skills, which is evident in the number of his former employees who have earned other positions, in golf and outside of golf.
As a PGA member, that is now leading a club, he has a unique perspective on golf operations. Ruehling wants our golf professionals to be on the cutting edge. Their team is allowed much freedom to try different things, without repercussions if there is failure. Their best programs and ideas have come from trying things that some clubs would be too afraid to try.
As a champion of PGA Golf Professionals, their staff knows that he will help support their programs, education, and enhancement of personal skills and growth.
His daily responsibilities and where his focus is, it’s hard to be involved in some of these initiatives. He certainly pushes their golf program to get involved with these initiatives. Over the years their golf teaching staff has introduced an Operation-36 program for both our juniors and women. Both programs are sold out. It’s great to see a bunch of kids around the Club on a snowy, Monday evening in January.
He supports and leads their Club in opportunities to host events for the PGA, USGA, NCAA, along with others. It’s their Clubs duty to be a good steward for the game and hosting events such as these shows that they take that responsibility seriously.
Brian Kuddes of Muscatine Municipal Golf Course has this to say, “The work that Matt has done at DMG over the past few years makes him the perfect candidate for the Executive of the Year. That club continues to thrive under his leadership and the mentoring that he and his management team do to set up the next generation is unmatched.”
“One of the more important traits Matt brought with him was industry benchmarking. Prior to his arrival we were solely concerned with comparing ourselves to our local peers. Broadening our vision of other markets and clubs allowed us to see their capital ex budgets, reserve fund policies and dues levels. This information has improved and guided our Board of Directors financial decision making,” Scott Howe, PGA Director of Golf at Des Moines Golf & Country Club.
Tomczuk Wins 2023 Assistant Professional of the Year
Melanie Tomczuk of Davenport Country Club has been named the 2023 Iowa PGA Assistant Golf Professional of the Year. This honor is based on the professional’s entire record with emphasis on his performance and achievements over the past year. This is the highest honor paid to an assistant golf professional and the award committee determined this winner based on strength as a player, teacher, merchandiser, and overall golf professional, the contributions to the success of the nominees facility, the nominees contributions to the game of golf, the character of the nominee and respect for other professionals, example of professionals who have enhanced their careers through the nominee, the nominee’s ability to play golf and the previous Section awards or community involvement activities.
When asked on what this means to win this award Tomczuk responded with, “Winning this award means so much to me because it truly showcases my passion for the game of golf and helping grow the sport.”
Since starting her golf professional career in 2020, she would not have guessed how important her role is at Davenport Country Club. In just a couple years she has been able to help improve our membership retention, merchandise numbers, and engagement throughout the club. From taking courses within the PGA, she has learned that in order for a club to succeed there needs to be membership retention and growth. The retention at Davenport Country Club is thriving. So much so that they are very close to hitting their maximum number of memberships, but they are also adding new families to the club. Brian, Davenport Country Club’s PGA Head Golf Professional, contributes this increase of membership to social members becoming full equity members.
She had a big role in this increase because of the programs she offers for their women and juniors. With the added opportunities for women and juniors, she is showing them the benefits of having a full equity membership over just a social membership. One of her goals is to get the entire family playing and she is very proud to say that their club is extremely family oriented for this reason.
To Tomczuk, when she thinks of the word service, she thinks of helping someone or something. In this case, how does she help the Iowa PGA Section? To start, as a woman she feels as if she serves a great purpose in helping the Iowa PGA Section generate other women like her to come into the golf business. She coaches many young girl golfers in hopes they will grow up and want to dip their feet in being a PGA Golf Professional one day. She showcases her talent and serves the Section by playing in section events and attending different seminars to help grow her knowledge of the game of golf. This also helps her keep in touch with other professionals and our Iowa Section board. This past winter she was able to represent the Iowa PGA Section at the PGA Merchandise show in Orlando, Florida. Meeting other professionals, vendors, and board members was a great opportunity to get her foot in the door and share all what has done.
Being a leader is something that she has always gravitated to so when she started working at Davenport Country Club her leadership tendency did not go away. Her parents would always tell her growing up, “Be a leader not a follower.” She took this to heart when she started at DCC and started implementing new ways of teaching, merchandising, and even socializing with members. She knew she always wanted to be a teacher, but never did she think she was going to be teaching golf. Since working at DCC she has had the opportunity to really take charge of the Junior Programs and make them fun and exciting for kids who start playing the game.
Not only has she taken the lead as the Junior Golf Coordinator, she has also led their club by making huge strides in our merchandise sales. She has utilized social media to showcase our clothing and accessories which allows members to have an easier time buying products now that they can purchase online in addition to purchasing in the shop. Lastly, she leads the way in socializing with our membership. She always makes sure she greets everyone as they come to our staging area. She wants to give a warm welcome to not only our members at the club but other guests that might be visiting our facility for the first time. The first impression is the most important and members notice that. Her overall hope is as she shares and exemplify these qualities our new and current staff will see how important it is to make sure everyone who comes to our club is valued.
Tomczuk would also like to touch on how she has changed the way women and children at Davenport learn how to golf. Before she was hired we had 2 development programs for women’s golf and only one Junior Golf Program that was tailored to the beginner golfer. Since then she has added 2 more development programs for women at DCC making it 4 opportunities throughout the different seasons for women to learn and improve their game. As for Junior Golf she has worked with our Teaching professional David Lawrence and added Red Zone golf which tailors to the more experience and tournament base golfers. Tomzcak also added an intermediate Junior Golf Program that is tailored to the golfer who is still unsure about tournament golf, but has more than the basic fundamentals and knowledge of golf to be in the Beginner class. This year she saw a huge need for these types of kids and had the opportunity to see the growth of these individuals because of this program. After bringing in these new programs and developing our Junior Golfers games she saw a huge increase to our PGA Junior League Program. Our Junior Golfers love the PGA Junior League Team because of the team component to the tournaments. We changed our program by adding more kids into the league because of the high demand at the club. Our team this year was big enough for two different teams at some tournaments. We also have made a practice schedule throughout the entire summer even after our last tournament to keep the kids involve and boost up the team atmosphere. These practice are designed to have fun, we never hit balls for an entire hour. Every practice was team related playing for “Chuck Bucks” or other prizes to keep the kids engage and make golf practice fun!
Shelley Zucker, Davenport Country Club Member had some nice words to say about Melanie, “From a personal standpoint, I began taking beginning golf lessons through Melanie’s ’Fun’damentals clinics during the spring. Mel always greeted the clinic attendees with a happy and reassuring approach to learning golf basics. She was patient, kind, thorough and always open to questions. Mel is a very talented golfer so she was able to demonstrate her lessons with physical examples and left us each week with a handout that we could reference and use to practice. She offered individual attention and positive affirmation during the clinic. After the very first clinic, she had me hooked and excited to come the next week.”
Linda and David Larson Members of Davenport Country Club had some nice words to say, “Melanie has demonstrated great command of the game, both as a player, and as a teacher to young and old. She exudes positivity and encouragement to her students, passing along her love of the game. Her outgoing personality is contagious. Melanie has also shown organizational skills in the pro shop and has great command of available merchandise. She engages with the members and reaches out when new things arrive. She always has a welcoming smile.”
This is Tomczuk first Iowa PGA Section Award.
The Iowa PGA Congratulates Melanie Tomczuk as our 2023 Assistant Professional of the Year.
Owens Wins Sales Representative of the Year
Jim Owens of Callaway Golf Company has been named the 2023 Iowa PGA Sales Representative of the Year. This honor is based on the vendor’s entire record. This is the highest honor paid to a Sales Representative. The award is based on the following attributes, strengths in service and communication, contributions made to nominee’s company’s success, contributions to the game of golf at the section level, size and success of nominee’s line, sales call rotation and customer interaction and previous awards or community involvement.
When asked on what this means to win this award Owens responded with, “I am honored and truly grateful to receive the 2023 Iowa PGA Sales Representative of the Year. It is a privilege to have such dedicated partners throughout the Iowa Section. This award would not be possible without your support and partnership. I appreciate you all very much, thank you for allowing me the opportunity!”
As a member of the PGA of America for the last 14 years, 11 years on the green grass side of the profession and the last three years as the territory manager for Callaway Golf, he has made it a priority to represent the PGA of America and the Callaway Golf brand with the utmost respect & dignity. He takes great pride in managing the territory while striving for greatness, giving a first-class experience, operating with integrity and providing a level of professionalism that is unmatched.
He continually refines his techniques to grow and master his skills on the other side of the industry, while further cementing my commitment to my partners throughout the territory. He sees himself as a direct extension of their operation and does everything possible to contribute in their success, treating their business as if it was his own.
Following a successful 2022, he wanted to further deepen his relationships through improved rotational visits and continued commitment to next level customer interaction. As a direct result of improved rotational visits and more face-to-face interaction, the territory is up 9.6% YTD from a record setting 2022.
Callaway continues to produce the best possible product for our partners that is Demonstrably Superior and Pleasingly Different, along with providing the best-in-class service with our dedicated support team (customer service, inside sales and certified fitting team). He takes great pride in our relationships and strive to add value to their business every day. Owens is very lucky to have great partners as our success in territory would not be possible without them.
It is an honor to be a member of the Iowa PGA and he has met some amazing professionals along the way! He is privileged to have such great partnerships with so many talented PGA Professionals, merchandisers and golf shop operators throughout the great state of Iowa. He continues to give back when he can and enjoy the camaraderie and culture of the Iowa PGA Section.
He takes great pleasure in being a trusted advisor and valuable resource for all his fellow PGA Professionals and Associates with the ultimate goal of encouraging everyone to further their involvement in the PGA, ultimately growing the game we all love!
Matt Ruehling, CCM, PGA General Manager of Des Moines Golf & Country Club had a few kind words to say, “Mr. Owens has exceeded the expectations of our members at Des Moines Golf and Country Club. He has been a frequent partner in multiple demo days, outside events, and our largest event of the year, the Country Club Invitational. These large events can be hard to manage, but James has been very successful, and our members continue to ask for his presence at these types of events.”
Owen has won the Sales Representative in 2022.
The Iowa PGA Congratulates Jim Owens as our 2023 Sales Representative of the Year.
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