With Hobbit's Glen Golf Course on the shelf until late next spring for extensive refurbishment, its owner is changing how the showcase course and its companion in Columbia, Fairway Hills, are administered.
In the process, Gene Ward, who has been a fixture in county golf for 37 years, will be retiring as PGA pro at Hobbit's Glen.
Full annual members to the two courses operated by the Columbia Park and Recreation Association were notified last week that a search is on for one person to become general manager responsible for operations at both courses.
"The new structure will provide for greater efficiencies and better levels of customer service," Robert Bellamy, the association's director of operations, told club members.
Bellamy said "there will be one general manager/head pro to oversee, coordinate and ensure consistently excellent service at both clubs and one assistant general manager."
In addition, each golf course will have one assistant professional.
Bellamy said the selection processes "are expected to be complete by the end of the year."
David Leonard, who heads the advisory Columbia Golf Committee, said the new structure also should help the Columbia courses be more competitive from a marketing standpoint.
One candidate for the new general manager job, Bellamy said, is Joan Lovelace, a Howard County native who is now the head pro at Fairway Hills. Lovelace is one of very few golf pros in the country holding certification from the Professional Golfers Association and the Ladies Professional Golf Association.
PGA and LPGA certification is no easy thing to earn. The schooling includes not only how to play and teach the game, but also how to manage courses, employees and the public. While the PGA and LPGA are known more to the general public for their high-profile pro tours, the backbone of both organizations resides with teaching and course professionals who are largely unsung.
Ward, who is 72, has been named pro emeritus, Bellamy said, adding: "You can expect to see Gene around the club, and he will continue to be available for lessons. He will also be helping in the selection process for the new general manager/head pro."
Ward has been head pro at Hobbit's Glen for 19 years, and before that, he was the pro at the old, public Allview Golf Course, which the Columbia Association inherited from Columbia's developer in the earliest days of the new town's development.
Allview was demolished by the Rouse Co. and affiliates for condos and apartments, and subsequently, the Fairway Hills course, which bears little resemblance to Allview.