Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Cheraw State Park, South Carolina Part V. Interview with Cheraw Golf Pro Brick Hyduke

Click here for the first post in this series.

01 hyduke photo Up early again today and over to the Cheraw State Park golf course to interview Head Golf Pro and Business Manager, Mr. Brick Hyduke.

Mr. Hyduke’s another busy person with heavy responsibilities here at the Park. He’s been interviewed dozens and dozens of times during his long career in golf. But I suspect this will be one of the few times he’ll be interviewed by someone who knows next-to-nothing about the game. I hope he’s patient with a no-nothing interviewer!

03 hyduke photo Mr. Hyduke had been busy for a couple of hours by the time I arrived at his office at 9:00 a.m. He turned out to be one of those executives able to put a visitor at his or her ease right away, appearing to have nothing in the world to do but talk with them. Even when very busy. A great skill! And a relief to me as we started the interview.

We sat down at a table in the Club House snack bar. A pleasant room with great views of the surrounding grounds. I confidently set up the video camera on a tripod, following Morgan Davies’ example from the previous day. But sunlight coming through the window behind Brick darkened the scene. So no video of Mr. Hyduke this time. Live and learn!

01 club house cheraw The audio was fine, though. We began, as usual, with Brick’s personal background. And his introduction to the game of golf. ClickToListen Though born in Pennsylvania, he grew up just down the road, in Bennettsville, South Carolina. Where he began his lifelong involvement with golf around the age of eight! Helping out as he could at the golf courses in Bennettsville. Before long he was playing himself. And that continued through high school and college. Not long thereafter he turned pro.

01 pro shop I then asked Mr. Hyduke to explain what’s involved in being head golf pro at a course like Cheraw. His response was interesting. It’s a lot more than just playing very good golf.

carts 2 Head golf pros, he explained, are responsible for all aspects of their course. Everything from giving lessons to management of the pro shop, to upkeep of golf carts. And, of course, keeping up the appearance of the course’s fairways and holes. Four seasons a year! Everything “from top to bottom,” as he put it.

ClickToListen I was most impressed, though, with Mr. Hyduke’s emphasis throughout his description of the job with the importance of dealing with people. Managing staff; meeting the public; assessing the public’s interests and needs. Even maintenance of an extensive volunteer program to supplement his staff.

He maintains a corps of 37 volunteers, who receive a free round of golf for every four hours they work on the course! That in itself would be a fulltime job for most people. Brick certainly has the personality and work ethic to handle all of that.

04 hyduke photo Mr. Hyduke has extensive experience with both private and public golf courses. So I asked him how managing Cheraw State Park’s course is different from managing private courses. Listen to his response. Quite interesting. Here he answers to a park manager rather than to a board of directors, as he would at a private course. But he also has a far more diverse player clientele. People from all over the United States come to play this course. No “captive audience,” as in a private membership course.

ClickToListen I then asked Brick the question he’d been hoping for from the beginning. “Tell us more about the golf course.” That’s what he really wanted to talk about. The Tom Jackson-designed 18-hole course, he said, is unusual in several ways. First, it’s layout. With no parallel fairways, the course covers a lot of territory! Requiring over 6.5 miles of cart path just to get around. This helps to explain the beauty of this course. 

03 club house Brick also reminded us that the course’s location within the Park also means the surrounding area will remain free of development, unlike most other courses, where houses and condos abound. And, of course, it’s very quiet.

Click here to take a video tour of the course’s 18 holes. A tour hosted by Brick himself.

In spite of all these advantages, play here, Brick said, is inexpensive. $30 to $35 for 18 holes, depending on the time of year, plus a $15 cart fee for 18 holes. That seems pretty expensive to me, but I’ve been assured that it isn’t for a course of this caliber. Didn’t know golf was that expensive! Good heavens! I’ll stick to kayaking!

ClickToListen We concluded our discussion with other details about the course. Brick is especially proud of the course’s Audubon Society certification. His golf course is certified in all six of Audubon’s categories. Meaning that Brick and his staff pay special attention to the course’s relationship with its natural habitat. Including use of chemicals, water run-off, and protection of bird nesting areas. See details of the Audubon program by clicking here.

Thanks again to Mr. Brick Hyduke, Head Golf Pro and Business Manager of what has to be one of South Carolina’s most beautiful golf courses. I hope to return to Cheraw at the end of the month and just walk the course. Not to play, now! Just walk through to enjoy the natural scenery, birds, and other wildlife.

Click here for the next post in this series.

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