Our final assistant spotlight for 2018 is awarded to Jim McDonald, PGA who recently completed his fourth season at Manasquan River Golf Club.
For McDonald, playing golf was unknown to him until he was 22 years old. In college, McDonald attended Kean University and was a pitcher on the baseball team. It wasn’t until after he graduated in 2005 when McDonald picked up golf and worked part-time at Forsgate Country Club with the outside staff while also working as a mechanical contractor.
“Right after I got out of college, I got into golf,” McDonald, who received his Class A membership in 2014 said. “
My grandfather played [golf]. My passion was always baseball, but I got hurt playing and threw out my arm.”
McDonald started learning the golf business under Lou Kubisa at Forsgate and followed him to Knob Hill Golf Club. The two spent nearly a decade working together.
“Lou became a pretty close friend of mine,” McDonald said. “I looked up to him as a professional. When he wanted me to come under his wing as an assistant at Forsgate, it meant a lot. He’s one of the reasons I am where I am.”
How has golf had a positive impact on you?
Growing up I always competed in sports. Golf gives me the same satisfaction. Being able to compete on a weekly basis and putting your game to the test against other PGA Professionals in the Section is always exciting.
What are your normal duties at Manasquan River?
We have a very active membership at Manasquan River. I’m in charge of the 18 Holer’s Ladies Golf Association. My responsibilities include; managing the golf staff, tournament operations, daily member play, merchandising the golf shop, teaching and providing club fittings for members and guests.
What did you learn this season dealing with constant changing schedules and cancellations due to the weather?
Communication is key, you can’t send enough notifications out! Unfortunately, there were a few occasions when playing in bad weather was the only option this season. You try to make the best decision for the entire membership, understanding that you’re not going to please everyone with the decision.
What have Chris Dymek and Lou Kubisa taught you?
I’ve been very lucky to work for two amazing PGA Professionals. They’re both class acts. Lou was my mentor when I first got into the business, he showed me how to manage everyday operations at the club and how to play tournament golf. Chris has taught me so much in the last four years, like how to run a great golf tournament from the beginning to the end. Working with different golf committees and ironing out the details prior to an event ensures each tournament runs as smoothly as possible. Both Chris and Lou are great with members and guests, watching their interaction on a daily basis has helped me with my level of service at the club.
What has been the most valuable advice you’ve learned as a golf professional?
Always smile and stay positive.
What is the more significant piece of advice you can give an individual who took a similar path like you - not enrolling in a PGM Program, but wanting to pursue a career in golf?
My advice would be to follow what you’re passionate about. I played baseball at Kean University. Golf and the PGM program weren’t even a thought. After walking away from baseball with an injured shoulder, golf was there to fill that void in my life. I became very passionate about the game and pursued it as a career. It’s a long road going through the PGM program after college, but staying positive along with support from peers helped me.
What do you enjoy most about the New Jersey Section?
I enjoy the camaraderie and relationships that I have developed throughout the New Jersey Section. Everyone feeds off one another to not only have the best golf game but also striving to be a better Golf Professional. I’d like to think that we’re one big family.
Favorite Course in the Section and favorite event?
My favorite is course is Somerset Hills Country Club and my favorite event is the Pro-Assistant.
What is your most desired career path and why?
My most desired career path would be Head Golf Professional. I’m looking forward to running my own golf operation in the near future. I’m excited about the opportunity to run great club tournaments and events. Becoming a PGA Head Professional would be a dream come true.