Jason Tchir didn’t have any idea when he picked up a club for the first time as a junior in St. Albert, Alta. that he would make a career out of it.
He didn’t have dreams of joining the professional tour and he certainly didn’t think he’d end up in charge of a beautiful nine-hole track, still in its infancy.
The new general manager and head pro at Quadra Golf grew up “about a mile from the golf course, so it kind of worked as a pseudo-babysitter for my parents in the summer,” he says, “and it was really some of the best times of my life.”
That was the start of his love of the sport. Back as a kid in St. Albert he’d take up odd jobs around the course – from picking range balls to scrubbing carts.
He moved to Calgary in 2000 and got a job at Springbank Links, helping out around the pro shop, and decided – since he was pretty good at the game by this point – to take his CPGA certification test.
When he passed it, he thought maybe golf was a thing he could do not only full-time, but also permanently.
So he went back to Edmonton to enrol in the two-year Professional Golf Management program at Grant MacEwan College (now MacEwan University) and headed back to Calgary to serve as a pro for about 10 years before deciding that he wanted to go back to school.
While he was finishing his four-year degree through the University of Lethbridge, he focused on turf care at the Lynx Ridge and Country Club of the Hamptons.
“It was great to see golf from that side of the business and gain an understanding about what it takes to actually maintain a golf course,” he says.
“That really rounded out my golf knowledge and broadened my horizons, you could say.”
At that point, with his horizons sufficiently broadened, now fully educated in all facets of golf course management, he was looking to take the next step in his golf career – just when Quadra Golf was looking for a new head honcho.
Tchir couldn’t be happier about getting the call.
“It’s an interesting opportunity to not only take over a facility as a pro, but also the management and operations aspects and oversee the turfcare. It’s kind of the culmination of all my experiences and education.”
He says his favourite aspect of the gig so far is the enthusiasm and pride of the people he’s been meeting, who for the last five years have put their hearts and souls into making the course what it has become.
“The best part is the exuberance of the members and shareholders and board members who are all so proud of what they’ve got. I mean, five years ago, quite frankly, they had a chunk of land that was just bush and now it’s become – through their hard work and the work of the local volunteers – a really exceptional nine-hole golf course.”
So what’s the plan moving forward?
Well, Tchir’s been in discussions with ownership and the board of directors about both short-term and long-term plans.
The immediate goal, Tchir says, is to strengthen their programming, including their mens, ladies and junior club.
“Right off the bat, it’s really about just getting more golfers out on the course,” he says.
“There’s the whole intimidation aspect that we have to get rid of for people and make them comfortable with just picking up a club and swinging it. It’s about really getting people to understand that everyone who plays this game started out.
“Everyone had their first couple of rounds. We all get that it’s a difficult game and there’s a learning curve. That intimidation factor dissipates after a while, and we all know that, or we wouldn’t still be playing, right?”
Long-term, Tchir says, they’ve been toying with the idea of possibly, down the road, building, “some sort of camping facility,” to add to the property.
“What’s better than camping and golfing?” he asks rhetorically. “We could put together a stay and play package, similar to what hotels and resorts do, but with a different twist on it.”
In terms of the course itself, Tchir says there isn’t much that needs to be done in terms of major renovations.
The course was well designed when it was put in, and now it just needs to keep growing into the environment, with a little nudge from the groundskeepers.
“We’re in the process of softening some of the edges around holes one, three and four, and every year we’ll work on taking care of some of the bush that encroaches a little bit immediately beside the fairways,” he says.
“We still want to have some rough and force golfers to hit the shots they’re supposed to be forced to hit, but a slightly mis-hit shot shouldn’t maybe be quite as punishing as it can be currently.”
He says it would be nice to eventually put in a pond and maybe a fountain in the pond.
“At this point it’s really about just working on those little touches that make people feel it’s well put together and maintained, because it actually really is.”
It’s still a young course, after all. It first opened for play in 2012, so, as Tchir says, “there are still some areas of the course that need to mature and fill in, but it’s just a process of over-seeding and getting a little more grass down.”
It’s a challenge he’s looking forward to.
“I’m sure every year will just get better,” he says.