Imlay grad carves out living in golf business
March 05, 2008Carving out a living in the golf business is no easy task, surely not as easy as one might think. Just ask 2001 Imlay City High School graduate Eric Gebhardt. It's not all fun and games, but he has no regrets.
Eric knew his junior year in high school he wanted to make golf his life's work. He was a four year member of a very good high school team and loved just about everything about the game. For that reason he attended Ferris State University, in Big Rapids, Michigan, the nation's top golf school. Hours of study, learning everything from club management to course mangement, can be taxing.
He is, afterall, perfectly suited for the business, an affable yet determined young man with an eye for detail. His schooling in the golf business led him to Las Vegas for an internship and later a position as head golf pro at Arroyo Golf Club. Golf isn't the most popular game in Vegas, if you know what I mean, but it is growing.
"I served my internship at Siena Golf Course, a sister course to Arroyo. The general manager liked me and offered me the job," Eric told me. "I'm very happy here, this is a great place."
I remember when the only course in Las Vegas was the Desert Inn, just off the strip. Today there are 52 courses that dot the desert valley landscape.
Recently, I was in Las Vegas and decided to take Eric up on his long-standing invitation to play his course.
The Arroyo course is located between Las Vegas and the Red Rock Canyon country, offering spectacular views of both. The rugged terrain is stunning as the fairways weave around the planned community of Summerlin. The course is an Arnold Palmer signature course. It's a shame to bring my golf game to such a gorgeous place.
With the Red Rock Mountains as the backdrop, generous bunkering, a surprising amount of water and exceptional design it's as beautiful as it is challenging.
Eric told me the very best times to play golf in Las Vegas are March, April, May and October, November, December and January. Golf fees are $159 during the week and $189 on the weekend.
"Arroyo is a very popular location for tournaments, we get between 8,000 and 9,000 tournament rounds a year," Eric tells me.
Since it is 'Vegas' Eric has had a chance to meet some rather interesting people.
"When the poker pros come out here, those are always interesting days," Eric says.
"They are not very good, but the bets they make are outrageous," he states.
Eric has also played host to Kix Brooks (of Brooks and Dunn fame), Roger Clemens and Steven Jackson, runningback for the St.Louis Rams.
"Steven Jackson sponsors a tournament for UNICEF, raising thousands, and his tournaments always fill the course, 144 to 160 players," explains Eric.
It's pretty clear in talking with Eric, he enjoys life in Las Vegas. But he was also quick to point out he does not miss too many chances to get back to his home town. "Imlay City is a great place," he concluded.
"I don't get home as much as I would like to."
Eric is the son of Terry and Lori Gebhardt, who remain active in many Imlay City functions. They can be very proud of their son.
The golf business may seem more like a 'dream job' than it really is, like anything else there are long hours of hard work, but Eric sure isn't complaining.
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