EAST GULL LAKE - Tom Kientzle chopped down the first tree that started it all.
Kientzle was the superintendent at Grand View Lodge when the decision was made to build the Pines, the first championship-style golf course in the Brainerd lakes area. A course-construction boom followed and the area is now one of the top golf destinations in the world, according to Golf Digest.
After stops at Cragun's Resort and Continental Golf, the 51-year-old father of four now calls Madden's Resort his second home.
Kientzle was hired March 1 to operate the Pine Beach East and West pro shops. He'll manage merchandise sales and customer service personnel at both courses.
Tom Kientzle (left) and head superintendent Scott Hoffmann looked over the Pine Beach East Golf Course Tuesday at Madden's Resort in East Gull Lake. Kientzle is the new pro shop manager at the East and West Courses. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls» Purchase reprints of this photo.
"He is so well-liked in the area and knows so many people in the community," said Madden's head PGA professional Chris Foley. "It's great from the standpoint that he knows the resort business very well already. He knows the area golf scene and that's a huge advantage to us. Tom is just a great addition to Madden's."
The move to the East Gull Lake resort follows four years of selling golf maintenance products throughout northern Minnesota. Travel and lack of family time motivated Kientzle's decision to join Madden's staff.
"I have a 7-year-old and it's nice for him to know where I'm at," said Kientzle. "To just have a place where he knows he and the rest of my children can get a hold of me is nice. My decision had a lot to do with being closer to home and being closer to family."
Position: Pro shop manager at Pine Beach East and West clubhouses
Web site: www.maddens.com
Tee-time phone: 800-642-5363
East pro shop phone: 855-5932
Kientzle's focus will be training new staff, running an efficient pro shop and fostering a warm atmosphere, in and around the clubhouse. They are all efforts to create memorable golf experiences and strong customer service.
Foley said Kientzle's background and management skills were appealing to him because of the age range of golf course employees, which is about 18 to 70.
Kientzle will help with the Tuesday women's league and establish Madden's new Thursday night men's league called "Out with the Boys." The nine-hole league begins May 15.
"We will have games, but it won't be like a true league," said Kientzle. "It's going to be more casual. We've been having remarkable success with people signing up."
Kientzle said there is a quiet excitement running through the pines at Madden's. With the second annual Parent/Child Memorial Day Tournament, the second-annual $10,000 Shootout, the two leagues and many other golf-related activities, he said there is a proactive movement to highlight the resort's golf facilities.
In the middle is Kientzle, who is used to excitement but more centered around the development of new courses. Madden's presents a different challenge, one Kientzle appreciates having the chance to tackle.
"Madden's is the grandfather of golf in this area," he said. "They were the impetus to the whole golf kick that took off. They have a big history here so I'm really excited about working for them. Brian and Deb Thuringer are great owners. They have a lot of good staff here. It's like a family."
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5856.
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