In “The Wizard of Oz,” Dorothy was given specific instructions to reach her intended destination: Follow the Yellow Brick Road. In life, however, our path is rarely so certain.
It’s fitting that I examine career paths in my inaugural column for Club + Resort Business, as my journey to Associate Editor was certainly not a straight line. From newspapers and magazines, to public relations and freelancing, my circuitous route was long and winding—but now I’m where I was meant to be.
Having spent the last 15 years in the golf industry, I’m intrigued by the many success stories I’ve heard. While many careers share similarities—a club-management degree from a certified university, to an entry-level position at a private club, then gradually rising through the ranks—others have twists and turns, stops and starts, and detours along the way.
Ken Kosak, PGA, General Manager and COO at Belfair Golf Club in Bluffton, S.C., jokes that his nearly 25-year career in the golf industry was almost predetermined—having grown up in Pinehurst, N.C.
“Until I began working at a club, I didn’t know much about the business dynamics of the industry,” Kosak says. “But that changed in a hurry, and I fell in love with the hospitality industry in general. And being able to use golf as a catalyst for not only the social engagement of members and recreational golfers, but also for business interaction and fundraising, still intrigues me every day.”
Early on, Kosak thought it was best to experience all three avenues of clubs—daily-fee, resort and private—and then choose his career path. The final choice was in resort golf.
“Honestly, there was a point early on as an apprentice professional that I didn’t think the profession was for me,” Kosak admits. “I was young and eager and felt I was more of a sales associate, checking in players and ringing up merchandise, than a golf professional.”
It was around this time when Kosak went to work for Bobby Pollitt at Hunter’s Run Golf & Racquet Club, which changed his career path. His goals became clear, and he began having fun again.
Even with a path in mind, Kosak needed to clear obstacles along the way.
“You don’t know what you don’t know, and it’s OK to put your hand up when you need help,” he says. “I was young and did not have all of the answers, and 25 years later I still ask for help and support when needed.”
Kosak, whose club is hosting this year’s annual PGA Professionals Championship, is quick to counsel young professionals to seek out a mentor and not be afraid to ask advice. Learn how to run a business and understand financials and the impact they have on the club, he suggests.
“If I could go back in time, I would learn everything I could about Food & Beverage,” he says. “Not everyone plays golf, but everyone eats.”
Golf professionals are in the hospitality business and are working when most people are off. Finding a work-life balance has been important to Kosak and will likely make anyone’s life—regardless of the job or industry—more enjoyable.
For me, the evolution of technology and the ability to work from almost anywhere has made the work-life balance much more equitable. Whether I’m at my desk, visiting a club or resort for an article in the magazine, or at my kids’ athletic events, I’ll be able to work and contribute to the future of C+RB—a task I look forward to enthusiastically.