For Oakville’s Zack Creed, his most fulfilling role has been playing and teaching the game of golf, with his love for the game stretching back to his high school days. After high school, he moved to the University of Nevada Las Vegas where he received an education in Professional Golf Management (PGM) and a BSc in recreation management. He was named 2009 Player of the Year within the PGM program and completed PGA internships at La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, CA, Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, AZ, N.J. National Golf Club in Somerset, NJ and Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, IN.
Zack Creed carried his passion for the game through every stage of his professional life, exploring the many sides of the golf industry from management to teaching, playing and even marketing.
His first job out of school was Assistant Golf Professional at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel IN from 2009 to 2012. During his tenure there, Zack served as a Tournament Liaison for the U.S. Senior Open Championship in 2011 and for the 2012 BMW Championship as part of the FedEx Cup playoffs. Additionally, he organized an Advanced Junior Golf Program for amateur golfers.
Zack later took a position at The Hawthorns Golf & Country Club in Fishers, Indiana from 2012 to 2013. He played in the 2012 and 2013 Indiana Open tournaments and was a finalist for Indiana Professional of the Year in 2014 after leaving Hawthorns for a role as co-first assistant professional at Highland Golf & Country Club in Indianapolis.
In addition to his professional involvement, Zack routinely volunteered at PGA tournaments throughout his career, including at Par for the Cure, a series of initiatives raising money for breast cancer research.
Looking for new opportunities and areas to broaden his skills, Zack Creed transitioned to selling and marketing new golf products to the U.S. market on behalf of Midas Event Supply in Ontario, California. While at Midas, he served as a trade show representative to Club Managers and was later tasked with evaluating the Midas expansion into the Canadian market.
Your career in golf spans a number of roles, did that happen organically or did you actively seek to learn every facet of the game and the golf industry?
To be honest, it happened more organically than pre-planned. The PGM program was an intensive, multi faceted training regime that stresses the importance of gaining knowledge and experience within the golfing community. So it was natural for me to pursue opportunities in the private sector that would broaden my understanding of the golf industry. Golf, like many other industries, has a bit of a family feel to it. While your boss may really like your contributions to your club, they often put the continued professional development of the PGA professional ahead of their own priorities. When I did leave active club operations in 2015, I felt it was time to get experience from a different perspective. Ultimately I feel it gave me a more well rounded appreciation of the industry as a whole. And it reinvigorated my interest in golf training and development.
You have also had a hand in marketing — how did that opportunity arise and how did you decide to transition part of your lifestyle from golf?
That was more based on family. My father had started a company when we lived in New Jersey called Midas Event Supply, a manufacturer, importer & distributor of event equipment. While their major market were the rental companies that purchase equipment and, in turn, rent that equipment to the public, Midas also sold some equipment to restaurants, hotels, convention centers, museums, wineries and golf & country clubs. I approached my father suggesting that my past experience working within the golf club industry might be beneficial; I had participated in some buying decisions at the clubs and knew what they were looking for in a supplier. I thought a combination of external sales and representation at trade shows ie. The CMAA Show would be a fun and educational opportunity. It went very well but I confess that selling tables & chairs did not give me the personal satisfaction I enjoyed when I successfully “turned around” a golfer struggling with their swing and ultimately their enjoyment of the game of golf. Their smile s and effusive thanks brought me back to where I ultimately belong.
You must have learned a lot from the people you have networked and worked with throughout your career. What’s is the most important professional and/or life lesson you have learned?
Wow, that is a difficult question mostly because I learned so much from my bosses, my peers, the people who worked for me, my customers and my members. But let me give a shot. Most important would have to be how to treat people and make them feel welcome, important and empowered. You have to be a bit of a chameleon considering the wide variation of people’s personalities, moods, predispositions and the like. I do believe some of that ability is more innate rather than learned but the inputs you get from your bosses, colleagues and subordinates provide continual learning opportunities in this field. Some guiding principles;
Everyone deserves respect until they prove they don’t deserve it. Whether it was the President of the United States or State Governor (both of whom I had the honor of meeting) or our janitorial staff, I tried to have a positive, good natured remark or comment for them.
Leave everyone a bit happier or more positive after my interaction with them. There will always be situations where someone is angry about something even though it might be trivial. Don’t take the bait and answer in kind; you may win the battle but I guarantee you’ll lose the war! Kill them with kindness and attention, try to solve their problem and leave them with a positive vibe. You’ll be a better person for it!
Entering the golf world can seem daunting to an amateur lover of the game, what advice would you give to help them pursue their passion?
Zack Creed: Let your passion guide you. It’s never wrong. There are so many roles in the golf industry it might take you some time to see where you fit; what grabs your interest and what you’re good at. For those of you wanting to take the deep dive, there is no more comprehensive and exhaustive program that the PGM curriculum. There are PGA of America programs at more than 12 schools around the U.S. and a CPGA equivalent for home grown Canadians. For those of you that are not sure, seek out your local PGA or CPGA professionals. They are an invaluable source of ideas, counsel and can suggest some potential avenues for you to explore.