PGCC Alum Makes International SplashWhen Alan Rogut began his career in golf he may not have imagined that as his career moved forward, it would take him back; Way, way, way back….as far back as the birthplace of golf itself, “I am the Director of Golf for Pravets Golf and Spa.” Now, Pravets is in Bulgaria but it is worth clarifying how he became the Director of Golf for such an acclaimed facility. He won this role by being one of 60 applicants, and a valuable member of Braemar Golf, a management company based in Scotland. As you’ll discover when Rogut reveals their location more specifically, Braemar Golf is not based just any old place in Scotland, he says, “offices are on the Old Course.”
(For those of you who are not familiar with famous golf courses, a quick history lesson: The Old Course at St. Andrews is considered by many to be the “home of golf” because the sport was first played on the Links at St. Andrews in the early 1400s. Golf experienced a boost in popularity until the mid 1400’s when James II of Scotland banned golf because he felt that young men spent so much time playing golf that they were neglecting their archery. The ban was upheld by all of the kings of Scotland until 1502 when King James IV of Scotland became a golfer and decided to remove the ban. In 1552, Archbishop John Hamilton gave the people of St. Andrews the right to play on the links.)
In short, Braemar offices are located at the Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland, established in 1552; the oldest golf course in the world.
Over the last few years Alan Rogut has been no stranger to high profile roles in international course development. A member of the Golf Club Managers Association, he became the Director of Golf at Pravets Golf & Spa in Bulgaria following solid work as Golf Development Manager to the Bulgarian Golf Association, and General Manager at the St. Sofia Golf Club. Considering his vast knowledge of the Eastern European golf market, you’d be hard pressed to find a better expert on the Bulgarian golf industry than Rogut. Pravets officially opened in May of 2011 and hosted the PGA Professional Championship of Europe, the first professional golf tournament in Bulgaria, a mere four months after its opening.
“I was employed to open the golf course and the clubhouse.” A statement like that sounds simple enough, but it is misleading, as Rogut clarifies, “This entailed working with the architects and construction team compiling procurements and installing systems and recruiting and training staff.” He then adds “I am the golf director responsible for all operations of the facility, membership, financial performance, marketing, human resources, training, and tournament preparation.”
When asked what his experience was like opening Pravets, he is very matter-of-fact. “Well, I was given a fairly short period of time in which to achieve that, just two and a half months.” As his story unfolds you begin to see that Alan is very good at making things sound easy, “The biggest concern was completion of the clubhouse and condition of the golf course, as the Prime Minister of Bulgaria officially opened the course. As it is, we were handed the clubhouse with a week to get all systems in place, the pro shop laid out and the golf course ready for the opening tournament. All staff was newly trained so constant supervision was required from the few key members of staff with the requisite expertise. On the day, all went perfectly and the event was very successful.”
When you see credentials and accomplishments like this it is easy to see why upon the announcement of Alan’s assignment to Pravets, Jonathan Pendry, Golf Courses Director for Braemar Golf, publicly shared this about Alan: “We recognized his ability to take a phenomenal facility and develop it into commercial success.” Continuing that “Alan has extensive knowledge of the Bulgarian golf community, is widely respected and we at Braemar Golf are delighted to have secured his services.” Inarguably those are pretty dazzling remarks from a supervisor, and perhaps it is because of his deep love for the game that his passion so clearly translates to his work.
Alan Rogut has a rare luxury of being able to honestly answer one simple question: What do you love about your job? “I enjoy the responsibility of running a big tournament – we currently have an agreement to host the UniCredit PGAs of Europe Championship for 2011-2013. Having run it very successfully in 2011, I am looking forward to improving each year” adding that “I take great pride in ensuring that members and guests receive quality and a high level of service in our facility. Developing trust and loyalty are the key ingredients in building a winning team and I enjoy spending time training and explaining how to present themselves and the facility. I enjoy spending time with new or prospective members, sometimes playing a few holes with them and offering a few tips on how to improve their golf games.”
Love for your work makes savoring its rewards that much sweeter. For Alan, falling in love with golf began when he was just seven years old and his father introduced him to the sport, “He [my dad] started when he was in his thirties and his best handicap was 6.” His father’s talents must have been passed down, “I played to a fairly high standard representing my golf club at the top amateur level. I also played most of the top amateur tournaments in my region in South Africa against really good players in the field. Notables were David Frost, Retief Goose and Ernie Els.” So how solid was his game? “My best score was 66 in the Club Championships at my home club. My handicap was around zero to 1 for many of my competitive years but nowadays I have little time for golf and play between 4 and 6.”
Rogut seems to embody the essence of the adage that ‘practice makes perfect.’ but in order to practice what you’ve learned, you’ve got to learn it first, and in 1999 he did; right here at the Professional Golfers Career College. “I had intended to come to the USA to study golf management with a view to working in the States ultimately as the golf capital of the world. PGCC seemed to offer the right combination of experienced personnel and educational courses.” He graduated from the Temecula campus in April of 2000, noting that “the area appealed to me with the variety of golf courses on offer. I had become bored with my line of work (manufacturing) and felt that the time was right for a career change. I was passionate about golf and was considering turning professional or moving into golf management.” Recalling his tenure as a PGCC student he says “I learned a tremendous amount there, and discovered that I was more suited for a management role than teaching, although I really enjoy teaching as well.”
Among the lessons he clearly remembers Rogut can say with certainty that “Understanding the core concepts of running a golf facility, attending seminars with some of the larger management companies, role play and working with focus groups was a good grounding for what was to follow in my career.”
So what was the single greatest lesson he learned at PGCC?
“PGCC taught me to believe in myself and to have the confidence to go out and exploit my potential.”