This week, I want to do the second installment of the Assistant Profile. Nick Gonneville currently works at Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton, IL. He hails from Methodist University and at age 23, already has a solid career going.
Nick recently answered a few questions for me....and keep in mind, one of the reasons I like showcasing young professionals is so that other young professionals can learn from Nick's career path, and maybe take something away from another professional's experience.
Nick, tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up and how did you get into golf/the golf business? I grew up in Northfield, Vermont. Northfield is a small town in Central Vermont. I was introduced to golf by both of my grandfathers. One of which lived fifteen minutes from me and worked at a local golf course and I would spend most of my summer days with him. He would teach me everything he knew about the game of golf and make sure I was simply having fun at the golf course. My other grandfather gave me my first set of clubs because he was working at the Acushnet Company. He was unable to provide as many hands on experiences in golf, but he gave me another great outlet for golf.
As far as the golf business I was introduced via my first job at the local golf course, within walking distance of my house. I figured since I was going to be at the golf course most of the time anyway, I might as well work there and make a little money! I was fortunate to work for a great Head Professional who quickly gave me responsibilities as a 16 year old kid. I quickly found a job that I enjoyed doing!
Take us through your experience as a Methodist PGM student? Methodist University was one of the greatest experiences of my young life. The PGM Program at Methodist was like an extended family. You got to spend a lot of time with your peers who shared like interests. I became immersed in golf for the first time, with the classes, numerous options for golf courses, world class practice facility, and a year round playing season. It was very exciting to spend time with so many other kids that shared my passion for the game.
The staff of the Methodist PGM program is yet another reason my experience was so great. The entire staff made you feel at home all the time. They were always there for advice, a simple chat, or certainly a helpful golf lesson whenever needed.
Other options at Methodist help make my time there one of a kind. The program offered weekly tournaments, seasonal major tournaments, and committees that you could serve on to gain real work experience even outside of your internships.
Where did you do your internships? What professionals did you work for? My first internship was at Lake Winnipesaukee Golf Club in New Durham, NH where I worked for Director of Golf Kevin Roberts. For my second internship, I worked at North Shore Country Club in Glenview, IL for Head Golf Professional Tim O’Neil. My third and fourth internships, which were 5 and 7 month internships respectively, I worked at Old Elm Club in Highland Park, IL for General Manager Kevin Marion and Head Golf Professional Nick Papadakes.
Tell me about your time at Chicago Golf Club? In March I will be starting my second season at Chicago Golf Club under Head Golf Professional John Guyton. I started last season as the Second Assistant where I ran our Ladies Golf Program and had my hands in all aspects of the operation. As of August 1st, I quickly moved into the First Assistant role when our current First Assistant moved on to another position. Call it lucky or right place at the right time, this is one of those possibly career changing bounces that any young professional hopes to receive. With the change of title I quickly accepted more responsibility and going into my second season I will be able to gain some great experience as a young professional.
Where is your career going? What are your goals? I see my career taking me to the small private club sector of the golf industry. I have been able to work at some tremendous facilities and create one of a kind connection that can only help my career moving forward. My current goal is to become the head golf professional at a small private club. I enjoy the atmosphere of a small membership where you can really create some lasting relationships with your membership. Also, I look to be a head professional to enjoy a variety of work from merchandising, tournament operations, and teaching.
Who is your favorite tour player? My favorite player as many kids my age would say, has always been Tiger Woods. His skill was obvious, but his passion for the game of golf was unmatched. Looking at golf these days, it is so much fun to watch the younger generation of Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, and Rory McIlroy play this game. Yet again their skills are obvious, but I can’t get enough of how fearless they are on the golf course.
Who is your role model or mentor if you have one? I have never been able to narrow myself down to one role model or mentor. I try my hardest to learn from family, friends, colleagues, and certainly leaders in different aspects of society. All of these people have something that they can teach me, and if I am able take something from each and every one of these people I am confident that I will become a better person as well as golf professional.
Any advice for young assistant professionals like yourself? From my experience, I would recommend other young professionals to try and define the path for their career, which will lead to long term goals. I know this is very difficult to do as a PGM Student or as a young professional. Even if you can define what aspect of golf you are passionate about or what interests you, this gives you a direction. With this direction you can begin to determine what it will take to be successful! Necessary skills and experiences will become evident and goals will become more defined. You will be able to paint a less confusing career path for yourself.
What do you like to do outside of golf? For fun, etc? I enjoy spending time in the gym and training for sports performance, not simply going to “workout”. I like to learn about sports performance and how a person can make their body perform better! Finally, I like to lace up the skates for some pickup hockey whenever I get the chance.