On Episode 6 of On The Green Podcast, I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Russ Libby, PGA professional and course owner of the Hidden Hills Golf Club, one of the most well-known and popular courses in Northeast Florida. Over the course of Russ’s distinguished career, he’s gained an enormous amount of knowledge about both the game and business of golf. We covered so much in the podcast episode, but here are a few highlights that stuck out to me.
Russ started working at Hidden Hills Golf Club in 2003. Now he owns it.
For many people working in the golf industry, owning a course sounds like a dream. Russ was able to make that dream a reality. Over the course of his career, he worked his way up the ladder. He cut his teeth at Marriott Golf and Ipswich Country Club in Massachusetts, eventually making his way down South. He attributes a lot of his success to always staying involved: He made a point to join PGA Section leadership and executive committees, which eventually led to being awarded the National Horton Smith Award in 2015.
To Russ, the game is therapeutic.
It’s no surprise to anyone that COVID-19 has changed American life, but to Russ, getting out and enjoying the game is therapeutic during these trying times. When you’re out on the green, you’re getting out of your house, socializing with friends (at a distance of course), and taking your mind off of everything that’s going on. While the health and wellness side of the game will always be important, Russ says that we shouldn’t underestimate the therapeutic elements to the game as well.
Going public is the way to go.
According to Russ, the golf industry hasn’t been so strong in the past decade. This is largely due to clubs’ inability to attract younger members, especially at Hidden Hills, which typically skewed at an older demographic. To solve this, Russ opened the club up to all of Jacksonville. He says that it took him a while to get comfortable with not operating as a private club, but looking back, it’s one of the best decisions he and the club have ever made.
Episode 6 of the On The Green Podcast is one that you don’t want to miss as we also catch up with David Charles, Senior Director of Tournaments at the PGA of America. David talks about all of the changes the PGA of America had to make to prepare for the PGA Championship and what it took to make the decision to postpone the Ryder Cup until 2021.