PLATTSBURGH — Plattsburgh Golf is entering its 31st golf season.
Plattsburgh Golf owner Willie King, a certified PGA of America golf professional, was recently one of seven PGA professionals to achieve certification through the PGA of America’s PGA Certified Professional Program 2.0. King was certified in the field of golf operations.
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He said that entails new methods of marketing, retailing, accounting and more.
“Of the three (forms of media), I like marketing through the local newspaper,” he said.
Became more involved
King said he took part because of an increased commitment to continuing education he made several years ago. At about the same time, he also decided to get more involved in the PGA, where he is now a member of the Northeastern New York Section’s Board of Directors.
“I am really learning by being on the board, especially on the governance end of it,” King said.
He is considering seeking that same level of certification in instruction, something he could do during the slower winter months.
King opened Plattsburgh Golf Discount in 1983. The original store was at the former North Country Shopping Center on Route 9 north of Cumberland Corners.
He later moved the shop to the corner of Smithfield Boulevard and Route 3, then about three stores down from his present location in Periwinkle’s Plaza on Smithfield Boulevard. The present location offers much more space than before, including an in-store practice area in the back.
The shop offers a wide range of golf equipment from companies such as Ping, Titleist, Nike, Adams, Callaway, Taylor Made, Odyssey, Sun Mountain, Cobra, Foot Joy and more. Equipment repairs are also available.
One of his proudest achievements is the Masters North golf tournament, which he started in 1984. The annual event brings together some of the top golfers from Northern New York, Canada and Vermont.
“We’ve brought a good amateur event to the North Country that wasn’t here in the past,” King said.
This year’s event will be held May 16 and 17 at Malone Golf Club.
Other activities cited
He is also pleased to have partnered with Randy and Mike Young to host a tournament to raise funds for the Folds of Honor Foundation. The event, now in its third year, raised about $8,000 for last year in 2012, which ranked among the top 100 in the United States.
Another source of pride is his junior golf camps, which have been held at Adirondack Golf Club in Peru since 2003. The camp is for junior golfers age 5 through 13, with four days of on-range instruction and one day of on-course instruction. This year’s version runs from July 15 to 19.
There is also an annual series of golf clinics for women, also held at Adirondack. King said he is grateful for his relationship with that club.
“Without their generosity, I wouldn’t be able to do this stuff,” he said.
His son, Matt King, was a standout golfer at Peru Central School and later spent four years on the Boston College golf team. King said that playing for a NCAA Division 1 school is fairly remarkable for a golfer from the North Country, where the season is so short.
“My goal has always been to be an all-around PGA professional, not just run a store,” King said.
Plattsburgh Golf doesn’t sell as much equipment as in the past, he said. That is partly due to the rise of Internet shopping and the presence of Dick’s Sporting Goods at Champlain Centre mall.
King credits the store’s success to his staff, which includes Stuart Harrison, Mike Roberts, Randy Hughes and Mike Young. Their customers know they will receive friendly, knowlegeable service every time they enter the shop, he said.
“Everybody loves golf and we love people,” King said.
Seeing Canadian customers
The staff tries to get all of their customers to have their equipment custom fitted. That offers a vast improvement to buying clubs straight off the rack, yet doesn’t cost any extra.
King said he’s noticed an increase in Canadian customers the last few years, primarily due to an improved exchange rate and the high cost of golf equipment in Canada.
The PGA is focused on making the sport as fun as possible. Instruction by a certified professional is one of the ways to do so, King said, adding that he also offers private lessons.
Another initiative is promotion of nine-hole rounds rather than a full 18-hole round. It is faster and less expensive, so someone can fit it in before or after work.
“I’m a big believer in nine-hole rounds,” he said.
King received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Physical Education from SUNY Cortland in 1973, and taught phys ed at Plattsburgh High School that same year. He was the athletic director at Clinton Correctional Facility from 1974 to 1977.
A PGA apprentice from 1977 to 1980, King was certified as a PGA professional in 1980. He was head professional at Bluff Point from 1980 to 1981, then at Cedar Lake Golf Club in Clayville in 1982.
“I like what I do and I’m very happy to be a PGA professional,” King said.
For more information, visit www.plattsburghgolf.com or call 561-2337.
Email Dan Heathdheath@pressrepublican.com