E.A. Sports Today

Wert settling in at Cider Ridge

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD – Doug Wert is living proof that you never know when a simple conversation will turn into something permanent.

Way back at the 2008 PGA Merchandise Show Wert enjoyed a meeting with Honours Golf CEO Bob Barrett. He must have been impressed as well because almost six years to the day a company representative called to inquire if the veteran club pro would be interested in working for the company.

Wert moved on the opportunity faster than the time it would take to tap-in a putt on the lip. And on June 23 – three weeks before the start of Calhoun County’s biggest tournament of year — he started as Cider Ridge’s new director of golf.

“I’ve always had an interest in Honours Golf,” he said. “I studied the company years ago and … really liked how they did things. I liked the values Honours puts into play, not only how they operate (their courses) but how they take care of their people.

“I would have hoped at some point (to be at an Honours facility), but how this happened I’ve got to give our career consultant credit; he was the one who contacted me. My wife and I have always talked about eventually we’d liked to get back to the South because … we missed it. We’ve missed the people. We’ve missed the beauty. I’m real excited to be back in this part of the country.”

Wert, 48, is the eighth head pro/director/manager at Cider Ridge since the facility opened its doors in 2002.

He was born in Pittsburgh, but moved at an early age to Houston – specifically, The Woodlands – where he picked up the game and became a high school teammate of future PGA Tour veteran Jeff Maggert.

“I tell everybody we played and then we watched Jeff play,” he said.

After graduating from Mississippi State’s golf management program, Wert played one year on the Hogan Tour. After making a couple cuts “God showed me where I didn’t need to be” and he entered the golf business from the other side of the ropes.

His 20-years plus with the PGA of America has given him experience at all types of facilities – public, private, semiprivate and resort. He was an assistant at Sawgrass and Eagle Trace, oversaw Penn State’s 36-hole facility, was the head pro at TPC Southwind and now comes to Cider Ridge from Oakcreek Country Club in Sedona, Ariz.

In between, he ran the PGM program at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs and still teaches for the PGA. He has more than a dozen former aides in top-flight golf positions around the country. At one time, he held the Guinness World Record for most golf holes played in a 12-hour period (440), a mark that stood until 2000.

He likens the challenge at Cider Ridge to the one he faced at Oakcreek, where the board charged him with building outside play. Through the first six months this year, the former Philadelphia PGA Merchandiser of the Year estimated revenue from outside rounds there increased $75,000 over the same period of the previous year.

Oakcreek is a semi-private facility in a tourist town with two public-access courses. There are seven public-access courses in Calhoun County, plus the private Anniston Country Club..

“I’m real excited about taking that on,” he said. “I want to work hard on generating more play and more business for the facility, and work harder on some of the growth-of-the-game issues the PGA of America has in place. I want to get a feel for the facility before I start making all these changes right away, but I want to see if there’s a way to get more play here.

“When I was here a couple weeks ago with my family and we drove around … we all talked about how pretty the golf course looks. It’s really gorgeous. Chad (Robinson, the greens superintendent) has the golf course looking phenomenal. I’m excited about partnering with him to make this a great operation. Part of that is going to be working with my team and working hard to provide some opportunities for them as well as opportunities for the city to get more play here and more interest in the facility.”

He’s no stranger to that. At Penn State, he said, his courses ran 500 events a season, the largest of which had 900 players. The Sunny King Charity Classic opens with nearly 400 players July 11.

“Events don’t scare me,” he said. “I enjoy them. I look forward to being a part of it.”

Al Muskewitz is Content Editor/Senior Writer of East Alabama Sports Today. He can be reached at musky@wrightmediacorp.com and follow him on twitter at Al Muskewitz@easportstoday1.

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