More than 150 people applied for the job of head golf professional at Champion's Retreat. The upscale, 27-hole layout will be a golfer's dream and a golf professional's as well.
Over the course of six months, a golf pro named Brian Stock made quite an impression on the club's board of directors.
The group was extremely thorough when choosing who would run their facility. After all, it isn't every day that Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Gary Player come together to design a course. (Each legend designed nine holes at Champion's Retreat.)
As a matter of fact, this is the only time all three men have been involved in a joint venture.
When all was said and done, Stock was offered the position. Stock has not lived in Columbia County for 10 years, but he knows the area well.
Stock grew up in Martinez. His family lived in West Lake, and he is a graduate of Lakeside High School.
However, while he was in college, his father, an executive at Club Car, retired and moved with his mother to Pinehurst, N.C.
Stock spent a year at Middle Georgia Junior College in Cochran before heading west to New Mexico State University.
NMSU had one of the country's premier golf professional programs and a degree would almost guarantee Stock a job in the ultra-competitive golf business.
While at the university, Stock played many rounds of golf with NMSU alumni Rich Beem, the 2002 PGA champion.
Stock used his time in school to learn the game and the business of golf inside and out. His gamble out west paid off, landing him jobs at high-profile clubs and resorts.
While working as a teaching professional in Hawaii, Stock honed his game and saved money to chase his dream of being a touring professional.
Through endless hours of lessons (and a few minor wagers on the course), Stock had saved $27,000 to support himself while on the road playing on various mini-tours.
Stock found the going tough, but wouldn't trade that part of his life for anything.
"It was the most fun I've ever had," he said. "I mean, I woke up every morning and went to the course with the guys."
His highlight professionally came at the Inaugural Kandy Waters Memorial Classic on the Hooters Tour. Stock challenged at the event, played at the River Golf Club in North Augusta.
He couldn't get it going over the weekend and finished tied for 11th place, his best pro finish.
Life on tour isn't exactly glamorous.
"I've stayed in some hotels you wouldn't believe," he said. "We'd pick the cheapest place in whatever city we were playing, and there'd be four guys per room."
The money eventually ran out, which may have been a blessing in disguise for Stock.
He focused on the business of golf, landing a job at the exclusive Currahee Golf Club in Atlanta.
Stock helped open the club. That experience, no doubt, helped him land the Champion's Retreat job.
I recently played with Stock at West Lake and he breezed through with a 69. So, obviously, he can still play a little. More importantly, the community has a great ambassador for Columbia County back in town. Hopefully, he's here for quite a while.
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