|Photo Credit: Dave Sansom Photography|
Ricky Potts: I started playing as a kid. I played baseball growing up and thanks to Tiger Woods, I made the transition to golf. I played in high school and college and have been working in the golf business ever since. I figured the best way to practice and play more was to work at a golf course! I did spend three years in the Troon corporate office, which I miss. But for my career plans, I needed to be “in the field” and that is what brought me to Naples and Tiburón Golf Club at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples.
AG: Why did you choose a career in the golf industry?
RP: I went to Purdue University and got a degree in engineering … But I hate math, so I got a job at Troon! It made sense living in Scottsdale to work for the world’s largest management company. I spent a lot of time at facilities and eventually realized I wanted to be a general manager. When the opportunity came to take a job in the field, working under a general manager that had a lot of experience, I couldn’t resist. So we packed our bags and moved to Naples.
RP: As the Director of Marketing, I wear a lot of hats. I am also responsible for member communication. We also have a full service restaurant here at Tiburón. I am responsible for driving rounds and revenue, helping sell memberships, and promoting this property to the local, regional and national media. We host an LPGA and PGA TOUR event here, so the fall/winter time is busy. We also have an active membership here. I manage all of our social media channels, handle all website content, email marketing, etc. One thing we recently introduced is an Associate Newsletter. I work with our Executive Assistant on that and we have had some success with it. We have 36 holes here at Tiburón, and are a busy property. There is always something to see/do. I am also a member of the CMAA (Club Management Association of America), so I spend a lot of time networking, watching webinars, attending local chapter meetings, etc.
AG: You host both the LPGA and PGA Tours at Tiburón ... What are those weeks like on property?
RP: To be honest, we don’t do much. The LPGA and PGA TOUR pretty much run the events. For me the focus is content creation and social media engagement. We have a booth in expo alley for each event where we promote Tiburón Golf Club and Troon Rewards. We are always doing a giveaway in an effort to drive awareness and grow our database. Last year we had event attendees guess the number of tees in a jar. Not sure what we will do this year, but it will be fun. I haven’t had the chance to play in a Pro-Am yet, but am hoping my boss will ask me one of these years. That would be fun!
AG: What are members and guests saying about the newly remastered Black Course?
RP: They love it! The golf course is in amazing shape, Greg Norman approved the addition of conventional rough, and our team continues to make improvements to the golf course daily. I actually prefer the layout of The Black Course, but it is the harder of the two golf courses. Our members and guests rave about the course conditions, even during the summer, and just can’t get enough of the golf course. The Gold Course was remastered in 2016, but we continue to make improvements there, too. Just when you think it doesn’t get any better, we make it that much more appealing. We also added Family Tees to The Black Course. They measure 4,000 yards and are a hoot to play from. There is a par 5 on the back that with a good drive will leave you a wedge in. Still have to hit the ball and make the putt, though!
AG: How does Tiburón attract new members and retain existing members?
RP: We have 9 HOAs within Tiburón. So that is a good place to start when attracting new members. But we attract and retain them by providing world class playing conditions, a professional staff, and creating an experience that can’t be beat. We also have two Ritz-Carlton towers on property with representation in each hotel. We have a modern website, an active social media footprint and are always responding to golfers whether online or on the phone. We are one of the best golf courses in SW Florida, if not the country, and we invite everyone to come visit us and preview The Ultimate Golf Experience.
AG: What’s the most common mistake amateur golfers make on the course?
RP: I started taking lessons earlier this year, and I was doing a lot of the things that I might mention here. I was rushed, I didn’t practice properly, I didn’t breath … The list goes on. I also think that guys try to hit the ball as hard and as far as they see guys on TOUR do it. I hit the ball 255-265 and that is fine. I don’t need to hit the ball 325 yards to have a good time. With that in mind, I don’t think golfers play the right set of tees. I love playing overseas where your handicap is what dictates what tees you play. I wish they would do that here in the United States. Sure, you want to play from where the pros play. But why? Unless you hit the ball that far, what’s the point? Golf is hard enough the way it is. Play the right set of tees and enjoy your day on the links.
AG: What’s your “dream foursome” (living or dead, golfer or non-golfer)?
RP: I don’t need four … Tiger. I would rather spend the time talking to him than worrying about anyone else. Since there are only two of us, can we play 36?
AG: What course tops your “bucket list” to play?
RP: I never had a bucket list until I played the Old Course. My buddy Steve invited me to play there with him and a member last year. Words simply can’t describe the experience. I also got the chance to play Royal Portrush Golf Club recently. To be honest, the next course I want to play is the next course I am going to play. I love seeing new layouts and love getting the chance to visit other properties. I could say something like Pebble Beach or Augusta National, but it is only a matter of time before I play those.
To learn more about Ricky, check out his blog at rickyleepotts.com.