Oaks North head pro: “It’s a game you can share with family forever.”
We recently checked in with Lloyd Porter, the longtime head pro at Oaks North Golf Course. In the golf business for more than 30 years, Porter talked about his days as a caddie in Hawaii, the challenges the industry is facing, and his special bond with the executive course in Rancho Bernardo.
How did you get started in golf business?
I started out as a caddie in the Hawaiian Open when I was in college (his first job as a looper was for five-time PGA Tour winner Jerry Heard). I got to talking to some of the local caddies, some who worked at Waialae (Country Club in Honolulu). One guy said they had an opening in the golf shop. I went in the next day and got the job and have been working in golf ever since. I graduated from the University of Hawaii in 1975, then worked at Waialae for seven years. Then I went to work for the City of Honolulu as the director of their golf properties. I was there for another seven years. Then I moved back to California and was lucky enough to get a job with JC Golf. And I have been at Oaks North ever since.
You have been at Oaks North for more than 17 years. What is it about Oaks North you enjoy so much?
I like working with kids and the junior programs we have there. And I like teaching and there are a lot of teaching opportunities at Oaks North. I also really like working with the senior players and the men’s and ladies clubs.
You’ve been in the business for more than 30 years. What keeps you coming back?
We’re helping make a lot of good citizens. There are a lot of nice people who play golf and they all share the same common bond of loving to play the game, enjoying the outdoors and the camaraderie. It’s a people business and things are always changing so there’s never a dull moment.
Any special memories you have at Oaks North?
I love the Glow Ball events at Oaks North. Playing golf at night is just so fun. We have an employee Glow Ball event every year and there’s a lot of hoopin’ and hollerin’ and the residents around the property turn on their lights and watch the event. Oaks North has a lot of great activities. It’s been fun. It really has.
What does the industry have to do to encourage more participation?
The millennials are doing things that are faster and don’t take as much time. Golf can be a slower game. I think one of the problems is developers keep making hard courses. It’s been that way for 15 years. The game is really hard and it should be easier. It takes so long to play because it’s so hard with deep bunkers and tricky greens, things like that. I think that’s a big mistake. Most players are 18-handicappers who just want to relax, play a casual game and have a few beers. I think the industry is realizing that by moving the tees forward and doing things to make it easier, also trying to get more families involved. I’m proud of the things we’ve done at Oaks North to encourage that because it’s a game you can share with family forever.
Marc Figueroa is a freelance writer who has been covering golf in San Diego for more than 20 years.