Aspen hires new golf pro
ASPEN – The city of Aspen is getting into the swing of things at the municipal golf course now that it has taken over the entire operation.
Colorado Ski and Golf, which is the parent company for Aspen Sports, also known as Specialty Sports, had run the golf pro shop for the past 30 years. But when the lease came up last year, the company decided not to bid for the business again.
The city wasn’t able to attract a suitable and qualified operator through the bidding process so the municipal golf department decided to take the pro shop operations in house.
The city has hired a new head golf pro, David DiMartino, who came from the Front Range in late February to help get the operation up and running.
Now that Ute Mountaineer has closed up the cross-country center for the season, DiMartino and his staff will begin stocking the pro shop with $100,000 worth of retail goods and other merchandise.
Two locals have been given job offers as golf pro assistants, and some of the estimated 30 people working at the course will be former employees of Specialty Sports; others will be new to the operation, said Steve Aitken, director of golf for the city.
DiMartino said the goal is to have a staff that reflects his philosophies.
“I hire people who are friendly,” he said, adding for people new to the game, golf gets a bad rap in that it’s intimidating or perceived elitist. “We are all about educating our guests and exceeding their expectations.
“We want to make sure we go above and beyond and put ourselves on the other side of the counter,” DiMartino continued. “I think customer service is the biggest priority and we will hire people who have that same vision, and get them to drink our Kool-aid.”
DiMartino, 36, was most recently the head golf pro at the public Commonground Golf Course in Aurora, which he helped open last year.
“We were all about growing the game there,” he said, adding the only reason he left that club was because of the unique opportunity in Aspen.
“It was a job in the mountains, and the Western Slope rarely opens up,” DiMartino said. “There are only a few positions and communities I would leave for.”
Aitken said DiMartino was selected from a field of over 50 applicants by a eight-person panel. It came down to four finalists, two who were local and two who were not.
“Any of those candidates we would have been happy with but this guy stood out,” he said, adding DiMartino has solid business and start-up experience, likes to have fun and has enthusiasm for the game.
“He’s kind of an infectious guy,” Aitken said.
DiMartino, a New Jersey native, also has worked at Fossil Trace Golf Club in Denver, as well as courses in San Felipe, Mexico, and Amelia Island Plantation in Florida. He’s been in the golf business since 1995.
“I’ve been a lot of places and I’m bringing that all here,” he said.
DiMartino’s handicap is zero and said he hasn’t had the opportunity to play the Aspen Golf Course yet. When he does, DiMartino plans to jump in with as many two and threesomes as he can.
“I don’t want to be called a professional if I can’t break 80,” he said.
As for Tiger Woods, DiMartino said while he has no opinion about the legendary playboy’s “transgressions,” he had the opportunity to spend time with him last fall in Syracuse, N.Y.
DiMartino said Woods might have difficulty next week at the Masters just based on the time he has been away from the game.
“Augusta is hard to come into even taking two weeks off and he’s been off for five months,” DiMartino said. “But he is phenomenal.”
Aitken indicated to the Aspen City Council last year that the head golf pro would be paid about $70,000 for a seven-month golf season. That includes $52,000 in base salary, $10,000 in incentives and $8,000 in benefits. Incentives at the time were proposed at 2 percent of green fees revenue over 23,000 rounds, 2 percent of retail sales over $120,000 and 5 percent of lessons.
City officials estimated in 2009 that green fees revenue will increase $50,000 in 2010. Last year, Aitken projected that $450,000 was generated in green fees based on 23,000 rounds.
The increase in revenue won’t be from a rate hike, but rather the golf department’s attempt to get more people on the course.
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