In what was a challenging summer for golf professionals across the province, as was the case for those in myriad industries, Padraic O’Rourke of the Chateau Fairmont Whistler Golf Course managed to set himself apart.
On Oct. 14, O’Rourke took home the Dick Munn Golf Professional of the Year Award at the PGA of BC Awards Celebration.
“It’s great to get recognized by your peers, for sure,” said O’Rourke, who tuned in to the virtual ceremony from the Fairmont. “In the province, we have so many good golf professionals and it feels really good.”
While he wasn’t entirely sure what might have set him apart, O’Rourke said he not only takes part in numerous association events, getting to know other pros on the links, but also truly looks to advance the careers of up-and-comers and the game itself.
“I’ve been in Canada for over seven years and I’ve worked at networking within the region. I’m always there to help other professionals if they need a bit of advice, I help assistants with their resumes when they’re applying for jobs outside of my own club,” he said.
This summer at the Fairmont, O’Rourke described a season that saw a change in focus after the COVID-19 pandemic struck and Whistler’s status as a bustling international tourism hub ground to a halt.
“It was interesting without the border [open], for sure, and without our big corporate groups,” he said. “The big advantage was our members had more access to the tee sheet than ever before. They got to play more golf and that was definitely a huge positive for us.
“We adapted to the situation and we provided a very positive product.”
This also translated into plenty of new members over the summer, said O’Rourke.
“It was busy, for sure. I gave a lot of lessons this year because we didn’t have the big groups.”
This year, the clubhouse absorbed employees from the hotel to keep those workers active, O’Rourke said, and everyone pulled their weight. He credited superintendent Dan Nash and assistant Matt McColeman for keeping the course in strong shape.
“They did a phenomenal job. It’s the best condition I’ve ever seen the course,” he said.
Should the pandemic continue well into 2021, O’Rourke is confident that the club will put forth an even better offering.
“We’ll be better prepared for next year, for tapping into that Vancouver market a little more,” he said. “We’ll be prepared for next summer when it looks like it’s going to be a very similar season to what 2020 was.”
Whistler Golf Club’s Alan Kristmanson was also nominated for the Cec Ferguson Executive Professional of the Year Award.