By Design - Summer 2019

18 | By Design I n 1978, a sales representative/ lawn care technician met with a golf course architect on the porch at Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania. It was a fortuitous conversation for both parties, as Jan Bel Jan would soon leave Davey Tree Expert Company and join the golf course design firm headed by Tom Fazio, ASGCA, and his uncle, George Fazio, ASGCA. Now, as Bel Jan settles into her role as ASGCA President, she views that meeting as both a culmination of one part of her life and a jumping off point for what she has since accomplished in the golf industry. Bel Jan grew up in golf; her father, George, and five uncles were all involved in the business. “I overheard conversations between my Dad and my uncles after they played tournaments, discussing why they liked certain golf holes and I was fascinated by what they were describing,” Bel Jan said. “My father designed and supervised the construction of the course where I grew up in New Alexandria, Pennsylvania,” she said. “He grew- in the course and was the pro- superintendent. At the time, it was called Mannitto Haven Country Club. I was five or six years old and captivated by the massive pieces of equipment—scrapers, bulldozers, and front-end loaders.” Jan was introduced to the business of golf as a teenager. “On weekends and during summers, I mowed greens and raked bunkers in the mornings, then worked in the golf shop in the afternoons,” she recalled. “I arranged tee times, sold merchandise, managed golf carts, coordinated tournaments, reported event results to the local newspapers, and computed handicaps by hand. “I learned that a golf professional’s income is based, in part, on what happens in the golf shop; running events, selling merchandise and giving lessons. If my father didn’t run events that were popular and fun and we did not provide good service, the golfers might not buy anything in the shop; impacting my father’s ability to provide for the family.” Bel Jan also learned a valuable lesson: “Golf and the golf course experience has to be fun; make it enjoyable enough for golfers to want to come back.” INTERVIEW Growing up in golf The roots of golf run deep in the life of new ASGCA President Jan Bel Jan, as Marc Whitney discovers. Photo: Jan Bel Jan Photo: Jan Bel Jan