|EAST GULL LAKE, MN. MAY 12, 2004 The Brainerd lakes area has been anything but a vacation for Brian Erickson.
But the PGA golf professional isn't complaining. In fact, with a new position at the Legacy Courses at Cragun's in East Gull Lake, Erickson is almost back to where he started.
"I had experience working at a resort facility back when I was an assistant pro in Colorado" said Erickson. "I would spend eight months in Colorado and four months in Palm Springs (Calif.). I did that two different winters. It's been many years since I've been in the resort end of the business, but this has been fun."
The 39-year-old father of three is in charge of increasing the Legacy's membership base, creating a successful Thursday men's league and developing a golf instruction curriculum to promote the game.
"I have a little more specific role with all the staff we have here," said Erickson. "Instead of wearing all the hats, I've been focusing on our membership campaign and our Thursday night league."
"Greg Kaiser is our shop merchandiser so that's an example of something that I've always done for 19 years in the business. I've always been very involved in the retail end of the business. That's been an adjustment."
Erickson's first job in the Brainerd area was director of golf at Pine Meadows in Baxter. During his four-year tenure, the Men's Twilight League grew to 20 teams. The clubhouse was remodeled and inventory updated.
But during those four years, 99 holes of golf opened around the area. The supply of golf courses outweighed the demand of players. Maintaining a strong membership base wasn't enough and Continental Golf, owners of Pine Meadows, decided to go in a different direction, leaving Erickson without a job.
Erickson, with the help of Continental Golf's decision to close Pine Meadows in two years, received a vote of confidence from his former membership base. He was able to persuade 150 new players to join the Legacy's membership base. Most of those were former Pine Meadows members.
"It was easy because of the relationships that I had established with the members that have come on board," said Erickson. "I've known pretty much all of them for the last four years. From that standpoint there, it wasn't like I was making cold calls to people saying 'Would you like to come out here?"
The consummate family man, Erickson didn't want to leave the area because of his children. While job offers in Colorado and Iowa were enticing, Erickson didn't want to move his family away from their friends and home.
"My kids are 5, 8 and 10 and have a lot of friends in the area and have gone to school in the area now for four years," said Erickson. "My wife (Jill) and I have a lot of friends and like the area so we were looking for options to stay in the area first before looking elsewhere."
After a turbulent off-season, Erickson is finally settling into his new job. A busy winter saw him at numerous golf shows across the state and he was busy promoting the course to potential members. But more important to Erickson, he was protecting his family from having to uproot again.
"With my experience with the business before getting into it, I didn't realize there was as much changeover," said Erickson. "I have moved more than I had expected before I got into the business."
"I don't plan on any changes in the near future."