by Clifford Cowley
Occupation—General Manager, Nicklaus North Golf Course
Location—Whistler, British Columbia
Jason Lowe comes from a hard-working family. His father worked in the soft wood lumber industry and his mother a nurse. He grew up in Okanagan, British Columbia where he played competitive hockey, “and just about any sport that involved being outside,” he says. Of course, being from Canada, skiing was a natural past-time as well. He didn’t really play golf until he was around twenty years old. “Unless you count the times my dad would take me to a local sports field to hit whiffle balls,” adds Jason.
Like any young kid, he was really into skateboarding which led to snowboarding in high school and eventually to a passion for surfing. Once he got the bug to surf, he was naturally drawn to taking trips to the warmer waters of the tropics and remote locations around the world.
So, what does all that have to do with Jason deciding to be involved with golf? “Easy,” he says with a natural grin. “Golf is a summer activity. Working in the summer at a golf course allows me to take my winters off to snowboard in the mountains and surf in the tropics.”
Jason attended Selkirk College in the Kootenays, Nelson BC (Nelson is known for its quality of snow–yes, skiing was in on the decision), where he received a diploma in Golf Operations Management.
Jason started his career with GolfBC, who owns and operates first-class golf courses in Canada and the Hawaiian Islands. His first job was in food and beverage at Furry Creek Golf and Country Club.
At Furry Creek, General Manager, Sarah Cruse, took notice of Jason’s sports oriented persona and his mindset for detail. She took him under her wing and helped him learn the ropes of running a golf course facility. In a short five years, he was asked to be Golf Operations Manager and progressed into Sales and Marketing Manager. “My goal was always to be a General Manager, and I was very fortunate to have Sarah’s leadership to help me.” says Jason.
GolfBC then appointed Jason to look after the Sales and Marketing for Olympic View Golf Club and Arbutus Ridge Golf Club. You’d think serving two facilities would be enough to keep him busy. Amazingly, he also managed to complete a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from Royal Roads University part-time and online at the same time. True to his goal, Jason was tapped as Arbutus Ridge’s General Manager serving there for the last nine years. Most recently, he has moved to the Nicklaus North Golf Club as their GM. “GolfBC is great company to work for,” states Jason. “Andy Headley, our Vice President, has been fantastic in the last many years. I can’t say enough how the company has provided tremendous support and guidance since I started with them eighteen years ago. It’s been a great relationship,” he says proudly.
Jason believes there are certain keys to golf that bring customers to courses and everything he does in the golf business is tied to those things. “It’s really a combination of all aspects working together,” says Jason. “First is player satisfaction. You can’t expect people to pay money to be frustrated with their game. Providing quality instructors and cutting edge technology to help players improve their game is a must of any golf facility. Secondly, the social aspect is key to maintaining a customer base. Providing member social programs to all age groups is essential. The top two reasons people play golf is social combined with a dose of exercise in an outdoor environment. We must have innovative, well thought out social programs with a goal of creating a welcoming atmosphere that builds member participation and brings in new golfers. Providing programs for juniors and ladies are also key to growing the game moving forward. Additionally, research shows that if people don’t play much golf between the ages of 19-39, they are less likely to play regularly when they get older. Programing for this age group is critical in my opinion.”
When I asked Jason, what makes a good employee, he answered quickly with, “I look for the right dynamic in building a team. Everyone can’t have all the same strengths, and it’s the combination of different strengths that makes a good staff, but if someone truly cares, is open minded, perceptive, organized, and innovative with good communication and problem solving skills, I get excited. I like to broadcast to our team that we all work hard, but it’s critical that we have fun, which is infections to the guest.”
What’s in Jason’s Office?
“I like data,” states Jason matter of factly. “You will see the tee sheet clearly laid out in graphs posted in my office by day, month, and hour. All decisions go through that filter to see if they meet the needs and voids of the tee sheet. I key in on discount/loyalty programs in same way. We list all desired behavior and all ideas go through that filter as we design our sales programs in golf and food and beverage. I use Menu Engineering spreadsheets to analyze and tweak the food and beverage side of the business along with many other analysis tools for labor. Ongoing benchmarks like member surveys, guest’s surveys, and team member surveys also enter the mix. The Triple Bottom Line business measurement, Trip Advisor, and Google Analytics are all posted around the office as a reminder and quick reference. Do I have a huge office? No. Is it organized? Yes,” he says with a laugh.
Jason Lowe came into the business of golf to accommodate his hobbies. His attention to detail and sports minded lifestyle have helped him not only grow in the business of golf, but also grow the game of golf.
Carry on, Jason.