Our guest this episode is Josh Doxtator who is the overall manager of The Golf Club at Harbor Shores. Situated in Benton Harbor, Michigan, The Golf Club at Harbor Shores is host of the 2020 KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship.
On this interview with Josh, we study:
- The benefits of working with the LPGA Tour in Inexperienced Bay
- What it takes to be a prime vacation spot golf facility
- Why hosting the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship advantages the neighboring communities
- The importance of creating an exceptional golf experience
- What he’s discovered from enjoying 300 of the top golf courses in North America
- Why Harbor Shores is a superb selection for Chicago golfers
Interviewer: Walter Lis. Operating Time: 17:25
Click here to obtain an MP3 file.
The following transcript has been edited for size and readability.
CHICAGO GOLF REPORT – Can you speak somewhat bit about your new position at Harbor Shores?
JOSH DOXTATOR – My position as a common manager is principally overseeing all operations right here at Harbor Shores from golf course upkeep to the food and beverage as well as the golf operations aspect. I’ve all the time been very much excited about alternatives to take a brand and really develop it and execute the service expertise to friends and members and make a reputation for itself and really make a splash in the vacation spot market.
And then I feel from the general imaginative and prescient of the ownership here, they need to be the highest Midwest destination and my job shifting ahead is focusing on providing the very best product from a golf course perspective and a food and beverage perspective, but then also delivering the expertise that goes together with that.
CHICAGO GOLF REPORT – Are you able to speak a bit of bit about where you came from before Harbor Shores?
JOSH DOXTATOR – My career truly began within the Phoenix Arizona space, I helped open up property referred to as Trilogy Golf Club at Vistancia in 2004 and it was a part of a much bigger group improvement … a lot larger than the Harbor Shores improvement, however nonetheless the identical type of feel and uniqueness to it. But actually helped from the positioning of that golf course to create a special surroundings via that service and thru a number of the different things that we have been doing on website.
I feel 2008, 2009, we had a 5 star score from Golf Digest. We have been considered one of only 24 in North America to obtain that designation and that with lots of, that was principally offering all the issues that I talked about: offering an exceptional expertise and a few of the greatest circumstances which you can play.
After my time there, virtually 11 years, I took the position as basic manager at Thornberry Creek in Green Bay, Wisconsin, the official golf course of the Green Bay Packers and the ownership there was very a lot eager to take what that they had there from a property and turn it into a destination. Over the course of four and a half years, I rebranded the property, noticed a number of success in some select markets, primarily Chicago and Milwaukee and Minneapolis.
The next step was how can we showcase this to the world? And ended up sanctioning an LPGA tour occasion which was brand new on the schedule.
We underwent an in depth renovation to the membership to prepare for the LPGA Tour, but then additionally working with our event management group that we brought on IMG to create all of the branding, advertising and sponsorship sales info to create a very profitable tour occasion.
So just going from club operations and model improvement into Tour golf. And I feel that’s what undoubtedly set the best way for me to have the ability to take the information that I’ve gained through the years to Harbor Shores as we know, they host the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship each other yr. And though it’s just a little bit totally different from a hands-on aspect of issues as the PGA runs, will probably be closely concerned in making sure that we put on the very best experience for any spectators that come onsite.
CHICAGO GOLF REPORT – What do you most sit up for when the Senior PGA returns in one other yr?
JOSH DOXTATOR – Nicely I feel finally, having the expertise with the LPGA tour, just getting concerned in that aspect of the golf business was extremely intriguing for myself. And understanding what it takes to put on a profitable occasion, even from the branding aspect of things.
At the end of the day, my entire focus is to be sure that anyone steps on property, remembers their time there and we create reminiscences for them in a constructive method. And whether that’s by way of day by day play or by way of the members that play golf, but in addition the spectators who come out to see, I feel nonetheless having a chance to be engaged in Tour golf, is certainly exciting for me.
I’ve discovered through the years that you simply don’t necessarily attempt to map out the longer term trigger that tends to vary fairly a bit however finally, I’m really excited to know from a serious championship what that appears like. And working with the PGA of America and already having some of these ties in with by means of the LPGA tour and issues like that.
So I feel from a profession aspect of things we now have rather a lot to do right here at Harbor Shores and using the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship to profit the golf course as an entire and the group as an entire and driving more eyes and more individuals. And in addition defining who we are as a brand, delivering that have and then taking it to a select markets within the Midwest.
CHICAGO GOLF REPORT – How do you envision the relationships with the totally different stakeholders evolving? Whenever you speak about Harbor Shores, you speak about, clearly you will have the town of Benton Harbor, you definitely have a huge footprint for Whirlpool there. And then, as you talked about too, the PGA can also be considerably involvedHow do you type of envision juggling all of those stakeholders?
JOSH DOXTATOR – Properly, I feel what’s necessary is the ownership for Harbor Shores represents: people who are extremely keen about golf and are committed to their group. And I couldn’t ask for something higher than that.
I feel eager to put on an distinctive golf expertise whether or not that’s via the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship or via enjoying golf onsite, but then additionally having an influence with The First Tee onsite servicing over a thousand youngsters in this system each summer time after which over three,000 in faculties and packages which are provided via this new chapter.
There’s undoubtedly a whole lot of issues to juggle in that respect, however finally, our commitment is to assist in growing the sport. And that’s the place I feel the PGA involvement is outstanding.
They’ve committed to offer whatever assets that they have to help us accomplish that, whether or not that’s by way of PGA Junior League or simply totally different avenues to be able to accommodate as many individuals as potential. And I feel sooner or later Harbor Shores has the potential to do some very unique issues in that means of coaching and creating.
I should say training and creating and finally providing essential schooling in the direction of vital expertise in life just like that of The First Tee, however then additionally having some totally different arms in educating and help rising the game by way of veterans and procreating programming for them as properly.
CHICAGO GOLF REPORT – From what you’ve been capable of digest since joining the power, what do you assume are the most important strengths that Harbor Shores has?
JOSH DOXTATOR – I feel hosting a serious championship each other yr, that’s an enormous power. But you simply need to utilize it the appropriate approach.
I feel a number of the other strengths…it’s the only Jack Nicklaus signature golf course on Lake Michigan. And lots of people don’t know that and then when you ever go to the property, it’s superb to see how Jack Nicklaus and his workforce principally routed this golf course in an space that previously was ridden with deserted buildings and dump websites and factories and issues of that nature. And to turn it into what it’s at this time, there isn’t a greater assertion to the dedication of the group than what’s been constructed at Harbor Shores.
I feel that the story of that and the dedication there’s in all probability one of the strongest, if not the strongest story in all of golf in terms of creating and utilizing a golf course to help influence the group. Like I stated, driving dollars from other areas to assist in creating jobs and economically stabilizing the world.
CHICAGO GOLF REPORT – From what you’ve been capable of see, what are you most enthusiastic about implementing to the course? To the experience, and to bringing to the world that you simply assume you can help intensify about Harbor Shores?
JOSH DOXTATOR – Nicely, I feel in any business, consistency is vital and creating a high degree of consistency in the expertise that folks have once they come on website. But going above and beyond and doing things just a bit bit in a different way. If you come to Harbor Shores, we may have different things in place the place it’s undoubtedly finished totally different than you’ve ever or whenever you’ve ever experienced before.
Taking…I assume my history and my career and then additionally having the opportunity to play a few of the greatest golf programs in North America and, perhaps enjoying over 300 golf programs. It was due to the expertise I had and taking a few of those experiences and placing our personal twist on them to do the same factor for everyone that comes onsite here.
I feel to me probably the most exciting half about that is the opportunity to actually take a brand that’s already robust and make it stronger. When individuals think about where they need to go play golf they usually’re going to travel to do it, that Harbor Shores is at the highest of their record.
CHICAGO GOLF REPORT – For those who have been going to inform a golfer from Chicago, understanding that they might get to Benton Harbor in lower than an hour and a half, what do you inform them? What’s the rationale why they need to go to you?
JOSH DOXTATOR – Nicely, primary, escape the town. I might think about that in the Chicago market, you will have lots of golf courses that cost a premium. And typically the experiences aren’t the perfect.
At Harbor Shores, we now have 15-minute tee occasions, pace of play is essential to us. We would like you to have the ability to, once you play the golf course manages on the pace aspect of things, where you are feeling such as you’re the one group out on the golf course.
But not solely that, some of these contact factors the place you are available and we anticipate the needs of each visitor, which means we anticipate their actions before they even ask. Our aim right here is to be sure that we reply any questions up front before they even ask and all they need to do is worry about having fun with their time on the golf course.
Finally from the Chicago aspect of issues, we’re close sufficient the place you possibly can come over for the day. We’re additionally shut sufficient to the place you will get away for a weekend and presenting a product from not solely the golf aspect of things, but there’s a full-service spa and things like that. The kayaking, the boat rentals, Jet Ski rentals, the Marina, all these various things and opportunities for you to take pleasure in your time here. And then in fact, with the group in Saint Joseph and in Benton Harbor, there’s all the time issues happening.
I feel finally from that aspect of issues, we have now unbelievable seashores, so it’s exhausting to argue towards that. That’s what it comes right down to is everyone’s going to be very selective in the place they spend their dollars and everyone justifies the dollars that they spend on our perceived worth, and our aim for our perceived worth shifting forward, that it’s far above what you spent. On the finish of your expertise, you look at what you paid or the worth of admission, you’d say, I’d pay 3 times that to play that once more.
CHICAGO GOLF REPORT – So, last query for you together with your experience enjoying as many courses as you had. Can you listing 5 courses that you simply convey some ideas from that you simply hope to implement to within Harbor Shores?
JOSH DOXTATOR – I’ll never forget a time my dad took me on a golf trip once I was 13 years previous to Myrtle Seashore and we performed a handful of courses, a reasonably good lineup. However one course referred to as Pine Lakes, and I feel it’s one of the oldest golf programs in Myrtle Seashore.
My dad needed me to take me there as a result of he had gone 20 years earlier and he was blown away with just type of the service and that type of factor. And understanding to at 13 years previous, I grew up in upstate New York and golf was just golf.
There was no one in there taking good care of you. You sort of went into the golf store, the pro was in there, developed a relationship with them, however finally it was extra of you sort of helped yourself after that. That was my first experience with what it means and what that feeling of service actually appears like.
I feel going back to Pine Lakes, simply from once we pulled into the parking zone to the bag attendants sporting white gloves they usually put you on this Rolls Royce Golf Cart, which I assumed was the good factor at 13 years previous.
However the one thing that blew me away, and I couldn’t inform you what one gap appeared like on that golf course, but we acquired to a par three on the front 9 – I feel it’d’ve been seven or eight. There was one of the chefs was out there with an enormous cauldron on an open hearth making clam chowder and offering it to everyone who came via. At 13 years previous, that blew me away.
But I feel even immediately, those are belongings you speak about and also you need to be recognized for. But doing some of these issues which might be somewhat bit totally different, which are distinctive to us, that we do greatest and sharing that with everyone who comes on website.
So once they depart they usually tell tales, they say, man, I went to Harbor Shores and you realize, their player assistant came by they usually gave me no matter it might be, whether or not it’s a food offering or just a memento to remember their day or one thing like that.
These issues are what really drives the memory worth and I’ve had a few of those experiences at totally different locations. However outdoors of that, just any person going above and beyond who actually took their time to just remember to feel such as you’re an important individual to them that day. And I feel there’s nothing better than that. There’s nothing better than that feeling.