New general manager says the golf club is getting noticed.
New general manager says the golf club is getting noticed.
Originally from Forest City, Pennsylvania, Slack started learning the game when he was 15 years old. “I wanted to spend time with my dad, who had recently started to play golf. The population of our small mining town was between 1,500 to 1,700, so golf for us was $10 for nine holes and a pull cart.”
Golf, he says, wasn’t something he considered pursuing as a career, but the more he played, the better he became. “I was actually the first boy from our high school to win our district tournament. I think having a little success winning a tournament made me think I could pursue it professionally.”
While finishing up his last semester at Penn State University, Slack worked in the Penn State Golf Course maintenance department, taking care of the greens, fairways and bunkers. “Soon after, I transferred to the golf shop and was introduced to the golf professional training program through PGA of America. That really piqued my interest, so I started pursuing a PGA Class A Membership.”
Slack then moved to Arizona in 2001 to begin working at TPC Scottsdale, which is noted as home of the PGA Tour’s Phoenix Open.
“In 2006, I accepted the head golf professional position at Forest Highlands Golf Club, where I worked for eight years. In 2014, moved to Michigan to work at Point O’ Woods Golf and Country Club as head golf professional,” he said.
When Slack was offered the position at Flagstaff Ranch Golf Club, he moved back to Flagstaff in 2016 and assumed his position as general manager seven months ago.
“We are very fortunate to have Eric as our new general manager,” said Flagstaff Ranch Board President Dan Brinkman. “Eric’s passion for providing quality products and services to our members as well as his hands-on and supportive leadership style will enable Flagstaff Ranch Golf Club to continue its vision to be the most desirable golf and recreational community in Northern Arizona.”
“I think Flagstaff Ranch is a hidden gem and we are starting to see more notoriety of the club,” said Slack. “We were ranked 20th in 2019 by Golfweek Magazine and most recently we moved up to 18th in Arizona. “We were recently informed we will have a full-page feature in an upcoming issue.”
The history of Flagstaff Ranch is noteworthy, as the Flagstaff Dairy once resided on the property.
“As a kid, this was the prettiest spot ever,” said Flagstaff native Martin Zanzucchi, whose grandparents purchased the Flagstaff Dairy in 1929. “It had beautiful surroundings and I used to love visiting my grandparents’ home. It’s a very special property and has the best view of the Peaks. We never hunted, so that’s why there are so many large herds of elk and deer. When I’m out there golfing, I’ll remember funny stories on different parts of the property.”
Currently, Flagstaff Ranch Golf Club hosts 20 major member golf tournaments and events each year. “We have weekly men’s and ladies’ games, instruction clinics and junior camps, plus a variety of social activities and programs for our non-golfing members,” said Slack.
On May 14, the Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce will host the Coca-Cola Chamber of Commerce Golf Classic. “Our biggest event is the Men’s Member Guest, The Lumberjack,” said Slack. “It’s the second week of June and a three-day golf tournament that allows our members and staff to showcase the club to their guests.”
About 20% of Flagstaff Ranch Golf Club is year-around residents and members. “The membership here is a great group of people. The personality of our club is that we’re a bit more of a relaxed environment, even though we provide high-service and a high-end condition of the golf course,” he said.
Offerings include a restaurant featuring specials such as Fish Fries, Cajun and other cuisine prepared by Chef Lee Begay and Food and Beverage Director Jamie Adams.
Flagstaff Ranch Golf Club offers a limited number of non-residential memberships, as well as a trial membership that allows individuals to experience the club for a season before committing to a full-time membership.
“I just enjoy all the aspects of what goes into managing a club, working with our staff and membership committees, golf department, golf maintenance, marketing, membership, sales and food and beverage,” said Slack. “I get great enjoyment from seeing joy on our members’ and guests’ faces. I’m a bit of a people-pleaser and I enjoy making people happy.”
Slack lists past Flagstaff Ranch General Manager John Ott as one of his mentors. “When looking over the candidates for general manager, Eric was head and shoulders above the other candidates. He is extremely organized, professional and very knowledgeable about golf operations at a high-end country club. It’ll be challenging, but he’ll do a great job.”
Slack and his wife, Mindy, a merchandiser and buyer at Flagstaff Ranch Golf Club, have a 10-year-old daughter named Ellie.
Flagstaff Ranch Golf Club opens for the season on April 23. For information, call Membership Director Max Wallace at 928-226-3126.
My last celebration:
That would be our daughter Ellie’s 10th birthday. She’s a little bit of a golfer, too.
Advice I didn’t take:
While working for the Penn State Golf Courses, I told a co-worker that I had accepted a job at TPC Scottsdale and would be moving to Arizona. This person, who will remain nameless, told me that he thought it was a bad idea and that I should stay at Penn State to gain more experience before moving on to a big-time facility like TPC. Needless to say, I took the job.
My favorite book:
As I started getting into the business, I read books on leadership. My favorite is John Maxwell’s “Developing the Leader Within You.” I still have it on my shelf.
Hobby I’d like to explore:
I would say I’m already exploring it: fly-fishing.
What I’ve learned through the pandemic:
People really wanted to get outside. During the start of COVID, golf proved to be a refuge for people, as they were still able to get outside and play, plus the weather was so nice. FBN
By V. Ronnie Tierney, FBN