For Patrick Damer, taking over as Chief Operating Officer of the Grosse Ile Golf and Country Club is a welcome opportunity for the Downriver native to return to his roots. He was born in nearby Wyandotte and his parents once lived on Grosse Ile.
It was also a chance he welcomed to be back in the Metro Detroit area where he held various positions in the industry, including director of operations for Total Golf Inc., a regional management company in Milford. Damer was also vice president for sales and marketing at Pegasus, a golf division of international giant, Carlyle Group.
"It's a great opportunity to become part of a prestigious club with a great history," Damer said. "Arnold Palmer played here, and Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth played a match here. The Western Amateur (tournament) was played here and the men's invitational is one of the longest running club tournaments in the country."
Damer began his new job at Grosse Ile on Feb. 28, coming from the Currituck Club, a top semi-private resort club, located on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and operated by industry leader, Club Corp.
With a 20-year record in various aspects of the golf industry - management, sales, marketing, operations, and strategic planning - Damer, who is also a PGA professional, is eminently qualified to lead the 94-year-old Grosse Ile Golf and Country Club into a new era of growth and vitality.
"I intend to build on the tradition of the club," he said. "Grosse Ile had a successful membership drive last year that added 40 new members and I hope to expand on that."
Club president Michael Moco believes the future is bright for Grosse Ile.
"The stars aligned when we connected with Pat. He was anxious to return to Michigan and we needed a professional club manager with a deep knowledge of the entire golf industry. Pat's experience and skill set are, a perfect fit for Grosse Ile," Moco said.
Damer said country clubs have long been trapped in the past and resistant to change.
"The reality, however, is that they now have to compete with daily fee clubs for players and restaurants for diners," Damer said.
Private clubs, he said, need to reinvent themselves with new ideas for programs and activities that will appeal to the widest possible group of people that might want to take part in some, or all of a club's activities.
He said he will focus on making Grosse Ile more inclusive and family friendly.
"A club like this one offers parents and their kids a safe environment where they can enjoy all the activities we offer," he said. "Kids can be on the swim team, they can learn to play golf and enjoy the game for the rest of their lives."
In addition to the large competition-inspired pool, the club has four tennis courts, two of which have clay surfaces.
One improvement Damer made that has met with universal approval of members is a cosmetic one that did not have a price tag attached to it.
In exploring the various rooms in the massive club house, Damer looked into a closet and came across a handsome large, framed oil painting of John Kelsey, the industrialist who founded the club in 1919.
Kelsey was the founder of the Kelsey Wheel Company and he put up the $350,000 to build the club and hired the internationally known architect, Donald Ross of Scotland, to design the 18-hole layout.
Rather than leave the painting languishing in a closet, Damer cleaned it up and it now hangs in a place of prominence on the large wall in the foyer opposite the front doors where anyone entering the club can see it.
"I have had members remark how much they appreciate seeing the painting hanging where they remembered it years ago," Damer said.
The center piece of the Grosse Ile Golf and Country Club is the Ross course which remains largely unchanged from his original design. The course is set on 300 acres of rolling, hilly land. The challenging undulated greens are very much in the Ross tradition and are among the best in the Metro Detroit area.
For more information contact Pat Damer at 734-676-1831 or Patrick.Damer@gigcc.com
Media inquires contact Dave Richards 248-642-6420 or email@example.com.
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