Area Golf News: Johnson's journey
EAST GULL LAKE - Tim Johnson is not a new face to the Brainerd lakes area golf scene. His is a face, however, young professionals in any field can look to for proof that hard work is rewarded. Johnson struggled for 10 years trying to carve out a ...
EAST GULL LAKE - Tim Johnson is not a new face to the Brainerd lakes area golf scene.
His is a face, however, young professionals in any field can look to for proof that hard work is rewarded.
Johnson struggled for 10 years trying to carve out a niche for himself. He honed his craft as an assistant club professional at Cragun's Legacy Courses for seven years and three more at Grand View Lodge in Nisswa. His perseverance paid off this season when he landed the head PGA professional position at the Legacy Courses.
"I wouldn't consider it a struggle, but barriers," Johnson said. "When I first got to the area, there wasn't a whole lot of turnover or movement. So a lot of the times you have to keep gaining responsibilities with the job you're doing and try to create stuff to make yourself valuable. That and just build relationships with the people around you."
One demographic that Johnson has strong relationships with is female golfers. Johnson helped create one of the most popular if not populated women's leagues in the area. Those relationships, along with his long working relationship with Cragun's Director of Golf Chuck Klecatsky, were key to Johnson grabbing his ideal job.
"Looking back, I definitely think it is something that a lot of people talk about," Johnson said. "It is awesome to hear and I hear a lot of other ladies talk about it. You look back and I don't know where or how, it just took off. It's awesome that it did and I enjoy it. It's a day I really don't feel like I'm stressing or working a whole lot. There are a lot of changes here and there, but I don't feel it as stressful. I've gotten to know a lot of ladies and they return the favor."
Johnson came to the area in April of 2006. After a couple of years of bouncing back and forth from Minnesota summers and California winters he landed the assistant professional position at Cragun's. After three season in that position, the questions started to mount. Unfortunately, it was the same question.
"It was a longer road, but it was definitely worth it," said Johnson. "But then I don't know if it was longer for me or for my wife. There was the constant question of 'Where are we going next year?' or 'What are we doing the following year?' Every October it was, where do I see myself in three years? I had to answer that question every year. It was kind of a thing I was started to hear, like a broken record, over and over."
Johnson looked at Thumper Pond in Ottertail and Northwoods Hills in Garrison. He talked to Cuyuna before new management took over at the Deerwood course. More recently, Johnson looked at Cold Spring. None of those places had what Cragun's or any of the resort courses in the lakes area offered.
- What: Head PGA professional
- Where: Cragun's Legacy Courses, East Gull Lake
- Family: Wife Kelli Johnson
"I definitely did interview a lot at other places," said Johnson. "Some I just did to get the practice and get my name out there. Other times, it was maybe members or people who I knew outside the area that said, 'Hey, we have a position open here. Would you be interested?' I would interview to be cordal as well as to see what they could offer and seeing if it would be a good fit. Did I really have a pinpoint on what I wanted to do? No. Always in the back of my mind I wanted to be around here. In a sense of looking at all the younger guys around here, I had to think about how I was going to create a niche or sneak in and show value to people.
"Every year I would look back and it just seemed like I progressed more and more with my responsibilities or duties and created new programs or something different to help the facility. At least, I thought I was helping the facility."
Johnson started as most assistants do, working the outside services as well as behind the desk. Out of curiosity, he said, Johnson started working his way into the finer details for daily operations. It started with creating package deals if someone called the course late at night. Johnson said instead of handing the duties off to others he asked questions so he could handle the job himself.
One of the biggest things he's learned from his years of working next to and with Klecatsky has been customer service
"Chuck is really good at that," said Johnson. "He's got a great personality and gets out and talks to people. He knows what he's doing. I think I've adopted and adapted that a little bit and tried to teach that to the staff here."
And Johnson's first year has been successful. It hasn't been without minor mistakes, but he credits a veteran summer staff, the ability to still learn from Klecatsky, Cragun's general manager Eric Peterson, who used to be a head golf professional himself, as well as teaching professional Chris Foley at the Cragun's driving range as reasons the transition has been smooth.
"I know they're supportive and it gives me resources to make things work better," Johnson. "I feel blessed and fortunate because I can bounce questions off of them."
But don't expect Johnson to handoff too many responsibilities to his staff. He's still running women's night every Tuesday. Some things never change.
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 855-5856 or email@example.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop .