By: C Wayne Dauber
We all know there have been big changes at our local Hidden Meadows golf course. Some very good, some not.
One of the bright spots is our current General Manager, Rick Johnson has a very interesting background and has accomplished a lot along the way.
He was born in the town of Medford Lake in southern New Jersey and moved to Florida when he was seventeen where he went to Florida Southern College. He played football there, but wasn’t getting a lot of play time because of the exceptionally deep talent pool there so, after two years Rick transferred to the University of Tampa where he enjoyed much more time on the field.
After college Rick played on the J.C. Goosey Golf Mini Tour on the east coast for about two years, working part time at a resort until receiving a job offer in Chicago. He worked for Dick Hart at Hindsdale Golf Course in Chicago.
At age 25 Rick received a job offer as the Head Pro at the East Bank Health Club in Chicago, which was the largest Health Club in the U.S. at that time. One of the features there was a very large year round indoor driving range. He was there for about five years primarily executing outings and events for the club whose membership included many of the Chicago elite, socially and politically.
Following East Bank, Rick worked for Michael Jordan Golf for about two years before moving on the Golf Academy in downtown Chicago for about five years. The Golf Academy is a nine hole course right in the heart of the city, visited by the likes of Bruce Willis, Kevin Kostner, Bill Murray, and others. Rick started there as a part timer and was the Director of Golf by the time he left around 2001.
His next position was with American Golf Corp, Hillside, IL at the Fresh Meadow Golf Club where he was the Senior Director of Instruction for the Lakey Golf Party Centers. He worked on Player Development, a new player program to get new people into the game. While there, he was the Golf Professional of the Year 2001 and 2002.
Rick came to California to work at Billy Casper Golf where he managed a couple of courses in the high desert.
Rick returned to Chicago to a club called Ruffled Feathers, a premier property in Chicago, where he did a lot of outings and events, and community fundraisers, accumulating a lot of experience in event planning. They did about 250 events in a year where the property was only open for eight months. The course was used for special events almost everyday.
Rick came back to California in 2008 as Senior VP for American Sports University, working for three years at the new startup sports management school. During this time he also worked as Golf Pro at the Meadow Lake Golf Course. He left here to return to Florida when his father became ill with cancer. His Dad passed away about a year later.
In 2015 PGA America contacted Rick to come back to them to work with the new PGA Learning Centers, which were modeled on the Nike Golf Leaning Center Program. This program specialized in bringing people into the game.They offered golf instruction, playing lessons, practice sessions and community outreach, including YMCA, schools, home school network, fire and police departments. They did monthly free clinics for the community and had a pilot program just for seniors when they closed at the end of that year.
Rick had played the Boulder Oaks course last July and liked what he saw. He contacted Mr. Kim and started working here August 1, 2016. Since Rick started at the Boulder Oaks Golf Club the rounds of golf played has increased by 70 percent. Pro Shop sales are up significantly. They took over the restaurant in October and have renovated the dining room and the Fireside Room upstairs. Both are seeing increased traffic. With expanded operations he has hired several new staff in supervisory positions and expects to continue expand as the amount of play and other club activities expand.
The most recent change was to re-number the holes on the course. Players will now start on the old number one and finish up on the old number eighteen. The old number seven, the par 3 with the lake, is now number nine and you will make the turn at the clubhouse from number eleven. The old number thirteen is now number twelve. New score cards should be there when you read this. He also mentioned they plan put the tee boxes for that hole back towards where they used to be and to reopen the driving range.
Rick says he would like to see the Meadows and Boulder Oaks grow together as a very special community. Movie night and the once-a-month wine and art class are two things.
Rick told me he likes to fix things. He likes to take something that is broken and turn it around and fix it. Most of us agree our golf course has needed fixing for quite a while, and many have noticed improvements in some areas. He says he gets bored after its fixed. I don’t think he will be bored with this job for a while but we certainly hope to see him enjoy that particular satisfaction while he is here. With support from us and the course’ owner, Mr. Kim he could make a lot of us very happy about the appearance of this course as well as the play.