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Southwind manager eager to grow club

12/10/2012

No shortage of enthusiasm for youthful Nickodemus.

No shortage of enthusiasm for youthful Nickodemus.

BY SCOTT AUST

saust@gctelegram.com

The new general manager of The Golf Club at Southwind says that while he may be young, he has a lot of energy and enthusiasm.

"We've got a very good staff here, a lot of good people in place," Luke Nickodemus said. "The overall goal for me is to expand the club's membership, increase activity. The more people want to be here, the better we're going to do financially and the more people are going to want to be members."

Nickodemus, 24, is originally from a small town in southern Oregon right on the edge of the city of Medford. He played golf and soccer in high school and planned to walk on to the soccer program at the University of Oregon but decided at the last minute to enter the business and professional golf management program at the University of Idaho.

"I've worked on a golf course since I was 12 years old. I got started very young working for a municipal golf course, and I've been around golf courses practically all my life," Nickodemus said. "It really saved a ton of money for my parents with me working on the golf course because I would have been out there playing anyway. That way, I got free golf out of the deal."

Nickodemus graduated from the five-year management program in four years. During his senior year, he worked at the Coeur d'Alene casino's Circling Raven golf course, a top 100 public golf course. While there, he learned a lot from professionals, got a lot of experience in merchandising and a higher end resort type facility.

For the past three years before coming to Garden City, Nickodemus worked at the Broadmoor Golf Club in Colorado Springs, Colo., part of the prestigious Five Star, Five Diamond resort and hotel. He started as a regular assistant professional, and within a few months was promoted to first assistant, where he was in charge of managing the hiring process and training for most of the 120-person staff on the golf side of the resort.

"I had the opportunity to get a lot of experience really quick. There was a lot going on there," he said. "There were days we'd come in and we'd have three, hundred player shotgun tournaments. An average day there was about 450 people playing golf, so there was a lot to do."

Nickodemus, who was interested in moving up in golf course management and general management, learned about the Garden City job through a connection between his boss at the Broadmoor and Southwind owner Craig Boomhower. After a successful interview, Nickodemus was hired and started work at Southwind in November.

As general manager, Nickodemus oversees all parts of the club's operation, including golf and golf course maintenance, food and beverage service, and the business side of running the business. One of his goals is to increase club membership, which is currently around 325 members, and to make the country club a place where members want to spend a lot of time.

"I really like the opportunity to help influence the overall direction of an operation, to develop the long-term plan and then work toward reaching those goals. Making it a welcoming facility is one of my long-term goals," he said.

For golf fans, getting to work at a golf course every day might seem like heaven. But Nickodemus said he doesn't get to golf as much as the average person might think.

"I used to golf a ton, but I haven't golfed a whole lot in the last couple of years. I'd like to play more consistently," he said. "I'm always looking for things to improve when I'm out there, so it's not always as relaxing an experience as it used to be."

But the nice thing about being the general manager, Nickodemus said, is some members want him to play golf with them, which provides Nickodemus a good opportunity to interact with members about their ideas for improving the club.

"It's important for me to get to know the members, and that's one avenue to do that," he said.

Nickodemus got married to his wife, Jessica, just before getting the job at the Broadmoor. His wife is a teacher currently working on getting licensed in Kansas so she can teach here.

"She's a big crafter, quilter, and she's a pretty good cook, so I'm lucky to have her to go home to," Nickodemus said.

While the couple both grew up in or near larger cities, they liked what they saw in Garden City while Nickodemus was going through the interview process and hope to get more involved in the community as they meet new people. Both were a little hesitant about moving from a larger city like Colorado Springs, but a couple of things about Garden City caught their eye, he said.

"The facility has a solid base, and the golf course is very nice. The second thing is that everyone we met was welcoming. The people here we were introduced to were very nice," he said. "It seems to be a very strong community. Those two things are really what drew us to Garden City."

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