A new era


OBSERVER Sports Editor

New Shorewood Country Club Golf Pro Brad Smith is just 27 years old, but he sure has his long-term goals set.

“If I have my option, I will retire here,” the Sherman native said. “Going to Fredonia State, I fell in love with the area. I have a lot of ties in the area. Family and friends are still up here. Ideally, I will work here the rest of my life.”

Since former golf pro Jack Schubert retired after nearly 50 years of service, Smith becomes the third golf pro at the country club in three years.

And he is hoping he is the only one for the foreseeable future.

“Jack pulled in close to 50 years,” Smith said. “If I last that long, that would put me at 77. Honestly, if that happened to me, I’d be happy. In my short time here, I have noticed everyone is tight knit.”

Smith spent six years as the assistant golf pro at Peek’n Peak. Before that, he attended Golf Academy in Myrtle Beach, S.C. and also spent time at Fredonia State, studying accounting.

“I came up here and interviewed in November,” Smith said. “I sat down with the board and agreed on terms. They offered me the job three days later and I signed the contract. I am used to the interview process because at the golf school I went to, we had to do mock interviews, which was nice. It’s a little intimidating, but I was used to it.”

Shorewood already has made Smith feel right at home as it held a dinner this past Friday. It was a chance for members to meet Smith. And though the event was held on Good Friday, it was still well attended, which made Smith feel even more welcomed.

“I am seeing it’s a big family,” he said. “I don’t know if every country club is like that, but this is nice. (This dinner) was a nice touch. I have been welcomed with open arms. Every time I get a chance to meet members, they are very nice and wish me the best. I am a hometown guy and my desire is to stay in the area. I hope we can make this a long-term relationship.”

Smith realizes the importance of the youth program and has begun finding way to improve that aspect. In doing so, he is introducing the course to the First Tee Junior Golf Program.

The national program is designed to help youth get excited about the sport as well as build self confidence, according to Smith.

“We are going to get trained by First Tee,” he said. “That will bring a whole new realm into the Jr. Program. First Tee is not just about golf, but about life skills and building confidence in youth. They will bring new ideas and uniqueness to our Jr. Program others might not have. They have snag equipment, which is bright and colorful equipment. This is a fun way to get kids introduced into golf. Everyone starts at the bottom level and works their way up.”

Smith also noted the youth program is open to all youth in the community and is not limited to just members.

With a younger golf pro, Shorewood will be expanding into the Internet era as Smith hopes to build membership through the website and Facebook.

“When I got here, the Shorewood Facebook page had 190 likes,” Smith said. “We are now up to 300. Our website is very interactive. I have access to it and can change stuff on the fly. We are pushing everything towards our website. One promotion we are doing is giving away a free membership for 2015. People have to go on the website and fill out a few questions and they are entered into getting a free membership. Everything we do, we are driving people towards our website and Facebook. So far, all the members are receptive to it. I try to keep course updates on the website. It helps. Right now, will it be utilized as much as we want it to? Probably not. But in five years down the road, we are hoping so. Everything we are geared towards right now is getting younger membership.”

Being a first-time golf pro, Smith knows the first couple years will be trial by error. But he also notes he is willing to listen and will absorb as much information as he possibly can from anyone who is willing to speak.

“It is trial by error,” he said. “There are certain things I will do here that members will love me for and I will do other things where I will look back and say, ‘That was a mistake.’

“One thing I have noticed, people might not know about Shorewood,” Smith concluded. “They might think it’s a white-collar club. It’s a blue-collar club. I think people are shy to come in because they think it’s too expensive or ritzy. Everyone is down to earth. It’s a blue collar place. Don’t be scared. Come try it out. I was nervous meeting members then meeting the board. I thought it was more of a ritzy club. But everyone has been very nice. I’m not just saying it, I really hope I am here for a long, long time. I am looking forward to this year.”