Much more than the leaves were changing last fall at Regent Park Golf Course and Academy in Fort Mill, S.C.
Golf course superintendent Dino Psaroudis joined Regent Park in October 2003 to head up the 21-member golf course maintenance staff. Most recently with Charlotte National Golf Club in Indian Trail, and before that, Ballantyne Country Club, Psaroudis brought with him an impressive track record of experience keeping greens in top shape.
“Our goal is to bring Regent Park back to the same condition that the course was in when it received so many accolades in the 1990s,” Psaroudis says. To accomplish that goal, he explains, the maintenance staff is in the process of reconditioning all of the greens, renovating all of the bunkers, and improving the overall aesthetics of the golf course.
“That involves a lot of little things and also some major work,” Psaroudis says. “For example, we are renovating all of the bunkers in-house. We have already finished the front nine, and we have started on the back nine.” All of them should be finished by mid-April, just in time for the 10th anniversary kickoff. But more about that later…”
Psaroudis is quick to credit Scott Cato, assistant golf course superintendent, for the “absolutely great job” he did with the course in the interim between the previous superintendent’s departure and Psaroudis’ arrival.
Shortly after Psaroudis’ hire, Regent Park promoted Todd Burrell, who had been assistant pro for three years, to PGA head golf professional. Burrell lettered all four years as a member of the men’s golf team at Queens University in Charlotte, where he also earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
At a youthful 27, it was Burrell’s demonstrated leadership skills and business acumen that helped him attain this top job at Regent Park. But what does he see as his particular expertise?
“The most important asset I bring to Regent Park Golf Course and Academy is my leadership ability,” Burrell says. “I like to put people in positions where they will succeed and then delegate responsibility. I’m big on teamwork, giving people a sense of ownership and pride.”
As head pro, Burrell’s job is to manage day-to-day operations of the golf course, the golf academy and the food and beverage services. He may be the administrative head of the organization but Burrell points out that “since 75 percent of Regent Park’s revenue comes from the golf course, Dino’s job is very, very important.”
“The bottom line is, if you have a good golf course and good customer service, you’re going to have a good year. That’s our philosophy,” Burrell says. “The golf course is Dino’s expertise. We talk about plans and he keeps me informed of changes. But we work as partners and I trust him totally.”
“I feel the same way about Fred Bond, our PGA professional lead instructor at the Academy,” Burrell says. Bond, a lifetime member of PGA, has 42 years of teaching experience. Academy staff also includes 12-year teaching veteran Laura Covington, coach of the women’s golf team at Queens University and LPGA teaching and club professional.
“We’ve also just hired a new food and beverage manager, Valerie Senneker,” Burrell says. “What we have right now is an open indoor/outdoor pavilion-style snack bar but we plan to enclose the grill at some point and ultimately to have a full-service restaurant.”
Rounding out the management team are financial operations manager Linda Senneker and Rich Albright, PGA golf professional/ membership coordinator.
The management team’s goal: to become the best public golf course in Charlotte.
Burrell explains: “We realize that Charlotte is an incredibly competitive public golf market, and for us to excel, we have to differentiate ourselves. We know our course can be improved and hiring Dino has taken care of that. The other thing we need to do is provide exceptional customer service, and that’s a matter of training. That’s my job.”
Another way to compete, of course, is to reduce fees, and that is exactly what Regent Park has decided to do this season. “We plan to provide more and charge less,” Burrell says. “We want to develop a loyal customer base.”
With a new management team in place and a clear vision for the organization, Regent Park is set to kick off its 10th anniversary in a big way.
A weeklong celebration called “Decade of Dedication” is planned for April 12th-18th. Each weekday Regent Park will team up with the American Cancer Society to draw people to the course and also offer cancer-prevention education. A special event each day will focus on a specific group of golfers, such as juniors, women or seniors. And each day, ACS volunteers will be at Regent Park to focus on a specific type of cancer education important to that group, for example: skin cancer prevention for juniors, or early detection of breast cancer for women.
The highlight of the week is planned for Saturday, April 17th when Regent Park will host a “Play Golf America Demo Day.” This is a PGA-sponsored event designed to expand participation in the game, to get people out who have never played golf before. In the past, the PGA has had an annual “Demo Day” at PGA headquarters in Florida, but this year for the first time the PGA is expanding the event beyond its headquarters.
“The PGA has selected only three sites in the eastern U.S. – one in Michigan, one in Alexandria, Va., and here at Regent Park,” Burrell says. “The PGA was looking for a spot in the Carolinas, and they were blown away by our practice facility – better than anything else in the Charlotte area.”
The Academy at Regent Park features a 4,000-square-foot teaching center, a 26-acre lighted practice complex, classes of all kinds and private instruction.
April 17th will be a free day with 35 to 40 PGA pros donating their time, offering 15-minute lessons at no charge. First-time (or relatively new) players can go from station to station for tips from more than one pro. Between 30 and 50 vendors also will be on site that day.
“It’s difficult to predict attendance for a first-time event, but we expect at least 1,000 to 1,200 people. Last year at PGA headquarters, they lost count at 3,500,” Burrell says. “We hope to get people out here to see what we have to offer – the refurbished course, the academy, the great customer service.”
The leaves have changed, the winter has passed, and it looks to be a glorious spring at Regent Park – a time of rebirth indeed.