New Deerpath Golf General Manager Impressed by Customers, Community
By David A. F. Sweet
John Westly started playing golf at age 4 in Asheville, N.C. He was taught by his grandfather; his parents didn’t play golf. During high school, he played twice in the North Carolina State Championship, once finishing 14th.
After a number of golf-management jobs – including his first as a general manager during a six-year stint at the Buckhorn Golf Course in Comfort, Texas -- Westly was named general manager of the Deerpath Golf Course earlier this year.
Lake Forest Love caught up with the KemperSports employee near the golf shop this month.
Why did you want to work at Deerpath Golf Course?
The main thing was the customers and the community. It reminds me a lot of the Buckhorn Golf Course. You get to know the regulars – you have a personal relationship with your customers. You’re one big family.
"We have a great team. Some have been here a long time – that’s important for customer service," said John Westly.
I was also blown away by the junior program here. It is big and successful and creative.
Do you foresee any major changes?
The golf course is in great shape. I say that even though I haven’t gotten in a full 18 holes at one time yet – the weather hasn’t cooperated. But I did shoot a 38 on the front nine.
I’d love for us to become a social hub in the community. On the patio I love the live music. It’d be great to have more social events with music and have members of the community stop by for a drink even if they don’t play golf.
What challenges are you facing in your new job?
Golf industry expenses have gone up considerably. It places a big challenge on what expense you need to finesse. You can’t just pass it on to the customers; you have to be creative.
KemperSports plays a big role with its national contracts. We get the best prices possible.
Before you attended the University of North Carolina, you spent a year at the David Leadbetter Golf Academy. What was that like?
It was pretty intense. They treated golf like a full-time job, like you were a tour pro. I learned a lot about golf instruction – how they broke things down – that helped me down the line.
What was your introduction to golf management?
At a course in San Antonio, they had me run golf tournaments and the golf shop. I learned a lot there. I got a good handle on how to run a golf course.
What kind of team do you have at Deerpath?
We have a great team. Some have been here a long time – that’s important for customer service.
How has your first three months in Lake Forest been?
The community has been awesome. I’ve enjoyed meeting everybody. We’re house hunting now, and I’m looking forward to my wife (Janelle) and two children (Miles and Autumn) joining me. So far, it couldn’t be more welcoming.