SPOONER– The snow has melted, and recent temperatures in the 60s indicate it probably won’t return now until mid-October. The grass has started to green a full month ahead of last season, and already golfers are enjoying Spooner Golf Club, one of the finest courses in Northwestern Wisconsin.
It’s all good news to new PGA Golf Pro Fred Friedman who took over on March 26 and is looking forward to an excellent summer in Spooner.
“I actually came here and started a little late,” said Friedman from his office in the Pro Shop. “It’s the time of year to deal with all the merchandize orders and websites, and typically you’s do that in October and November, get everything updated and ready to go by the middle of February, then have March and April to do pricing and get the restaurant orders for the season.
“Golf now is pretty much year round. Although we close there is still behind the scenes setting up, getting contracts to events, securing the events and getting those contracts sent, signed and back.”
Friedman came to the Spooner Golf Club following 24 years at a private club in St. Louis, MO. He has also worked in Chicago and New York, so Northwestern Wisconsin is a real life change, though not that far away from home – he and his wife both grew up in the Twin Cities.
“It was kind of a quick thing,” said Friedman of his decision to come to Spooner. “We have a job employment network within the PGA of America and this job came up. I think the most appealing thing is after 24 years in the private industry working 6-7 days a weeks to come up here was a change. Obviously, we close usually the end of October through April 1. So you really have that time to prepare well for the next season. It’s more relaxed. In St. Louis, weather permitting, we played golf 12 months out of the year.”
The Friedman family is currently looking for a residence in the Spooner area.
Business is already starting to pick up at the golf course, he said.
“Spooner is 70 miles south of Duluth and Duluth doesn’t thaw as quickly, so we get some players who will drive down,” said Friedman. “This is such a good golf course, people like to come play it. Plus, it’s a huge draw for the people from the Twin Cities who have places up here.”
Green-up is already starting on the course.
“The course got through the winter in excellent shape,” said the new pro. “The greens have been mowed and rolled. There is no winter kill at all on the greens, they are very good. Our superintendent is Travis Nordstrom and he is busy getting everything in shape for the season.”
The season, however, is already in session.
“Yes, we’ve done about 90 rounds already this year (as of April 9). We didn’t open until May 7 last year, so we’re about 30 days ahead of last years schedule. We’re very excited about that,” said Friedman.
Another plus of relocating to a place with a bit more relaxed schedule is that the PGA Golf Pro might actually be able to find the time play play a few rounds himself.
“Yes, I enjoy golfing myself,’ he said. “I’m a professional 26-year member of the PGA of America. I play in tournaments, probably 10 events a year between professional events and pro-ams with members.
“I’m the general manager here as well as the golf pro. Once the season starts the golf part will kick in. Now it’s overseeing the restaurant and the bar, setting menus with the chef, trying to figure how to drive business to the restaurant and bar,” he said. “We’re going to be running some happy hours and things that will hopefully attract people throughout the week as we as the weekend. We’ll be selling merchandise in the pro shop, teaching and running events.”
And there are many big events coming up at the Spooner Golf Club.
“We have a great event coming,” said Friedman. “The Chamber of Commerce is going to be here on May 7 doing their Food & Wine Tasting. We’re expecting somewhere around 300 people. We’ll have tents outside.
“We’ve got Jack’s a Hack coming up. We’ve got the Jack Link’s event – it’s a fund raiser to benefit the Northwood Education Foundation. This is a huge event on Aug. 11. There’s a shotgun start at 8 a.m. and a shotgun start at 2:30 p.m. They’ll have about 300 players.”
Golf worldwide is enjoying a big rise in popularity.
“Many years ago golf was considered a rich man’s sport,” said Friedman. “That’s where a lot of business is done now, on the course. There’s relationships that people build on a golf course. A lot of it now is fund raising. Look at the PGA and how much they raise for charity.
“I think it’s you and the ball and the golf course. Every day is different, the weather conditions, the temperature, the wind. The skill level is kind of a chess game. It’s a physical and mental game.”
Friedman points to the fact that today more and more women are enjoying playing golf.
“It’s nice, it’s something you can do with the family,” he said. “Golf’s biggest challenge right now is that it is time consuming and people right now are part of a now, now, now generation.”
Spooner Golf Club is the home of the Spooner Rail high school boys and girls teams, both coached by Golf Club employee Jim Anderson who helped guide the girls to the WIAA State Tournament this past fall.
Outside of golfing, Friedman has one other sport he really enjoys.
“Fishing,” he said with a big smile. “I love to fish when I get a chance. I like to ice fish, snowmobile and play cards. But fishing is my passion.”
Spooner Golf Course is open a half hour after sunrise until the final golfer comes in at night.
“There’s a lot that Spooner offers,” said Friedman. “We’ve got a great Junior Program, ages 7-16, to help the kids get started.
“We have a great golf course and good membership. It is easy to promote a good golf course and we’ve got one of the best in the area. It’s truly an old style course, tree-lined fairways and small, difficult greens.
“My goal for this year is to pay a little more attention to details and service for the patrons. I hope we can enhance our food and beverage service so we’re more consistent. I want to get our schedule so people know we are open and what we offer. We hope to separate ourselves from some of the other golf facilities in the area as far as amenities and service.”
Patrons of the Spooner Golf Club have several upcoming events to look forward to, including …
Free lesson day – “It’s a free 10-minute lesson with myself,” said Friedman. “That will be May 9 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. All they have to do is call the shop.”
Family clinic – “We’ll have a free family clinic coming up on September 19 from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m,” said Friedman.
Demo Day – “We’ll be doing a demo day on June 5,” said Friedman. “All the manufacturers like Titleist, Ping and others will be here from 4 to 8 p.m. People can come out and try out all the latest and greatest equipment.”
For more information everyone is invited to call 715.635.3580.