Tony Chateauvert interview

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General Manager & Head Professional at Palm Beach Par 3 Golf Course, Palm Beach, Florida, USA
Posted on
February 8, 2024
by
M. James Ward in
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Background

Tony Chateauvert is an award-winning PGA Professional with over 40 years' experience.

The Town of Palm Beach named Tony their Employee of the Year in 2021. He has won Metropolitan PGA Awards for Junior Golf programs as well as multiple South Florida PGA Awards and was  named the SFPGA Merchandiser of the Year in 2022.

He is an accomplished player and teacher, having played professionally since he was 19. Former head professional at Bedford Golf & Tennis Club in the New York metro area and one of America’s oldest golf clubs.

Chateauvert's approach to golf is simple and effective “swing the club freely, fast and fluid!”

Tony Chateauvert interview

The Chateauvert Story

I fell in love with the game as a young caddy, when I was in high school. I caddied at Quaker Ridge, a great golf course near to Winged Foot.

My parents did not play, so caddying was the doorway for a young man whose parents had limited means to play golf. Rick Werner was the assistant professional there, always smiling and friendly and working on his game.

I wanted to emulate him in every way. Well, be careful what you wish for! I have had a wonderful career in golf and have enjoyed the journey.

***

You wake up in the morning – what's the driving passion in going to work each day?

“I truly love being a golf professional and am very proud of what we have accomplished here at the Par 3. The course, the welcoming atmosphere, the service.

I think of it as inviting people into my home and wanting them to enjoy it as much as I do!”

 

What spiked your interest in becoming the head professional / manager of the Palm Beach Par-3 facility?

Interesting, but having been at an ultra-elite private club, that sort of gets old after 20 years. Municipal golf has a bad reputation, and I knew I could fix the Par 3.

It was always a fun golf course on the ocean, but the service was dismal and it was losing $1 million a year. Now, it is a great experience and we have a net profit of $2 million annually!

How much of a surge in interest in golf happened following the end of the global pandemic?

Covid changed everything. We were on an upward trajectory but post covid, our rounds surged by 12,000 or about 35%!

 

Growing the game has become the clarion call for many. Define the term and what you're doing in your position to expand the sport to others.

Not a fan of this saying at all. The PGA of America has this wrong. How about making the game better? Bigger is not better.

The Palm Beach Par 3 is improving golf by offering a welcoming atmosphere to everyone that walks through our doors.

No intimidation to beginners. Making golf friendly, fun and fast are essential to improving golf.

In twelve years, you increased revenues from $880,000 in 2011 to a whopping number of $5 million in 2023 and doubled the rounds played. What were the key steps you put in place for that to have happened?

Everything came together in 2014. After 2 years at the helm, the Town approached me about their plan to build a new clubhouse on the ocean complete with a restaurant on the second floor overlooking the ocean.

In January of 2014, we opened the new clubhouse. Al Fresco, the on-site restaurant is owned by a great Palm Beach restaurant family.

They took over the space and simply kicked it out of the ballpark with great food and terrific service. Golf shop sales have grown from $100,000 that first year to $900,000 this year.

You and your team are on the front line for instruction to players. What's the most important aspect in creating a successful instruction program?

We offer daily affordable clinics that sell out each week. This is a way for golfers to sample each instructor and not break the bank.

We naturally offer individual private lessons as well, but by having a diverse collection of instructors, we cover almost everyone’s needs.

Tony Chateauvert interview

 

If you could change one thing in golf unilaterally – what would it be and why?

Having people fix their ball marks, outside of club professionals, tour players and 1% of amateurs, no one does it.

 

Many facilities routinely tout the importance of customer service. Define the term and the approach followed at Palm Beach Par-3.

The word is hospitality. It is a culture, a mindset. It is not so much what we do, it is how we do it. We have staff that that are engaged in wanting people to enjoy themselves while on our property.

Tony Chateauvert interview

There's been a major resurgence in short courses becoming more popular among a broad range of players. Why is that the case?

Time. No one has 5-6 hours to be on a golf course and wait on every shot. Additionally, golf courses designed by the great players are simply too hard for the average golfer. Golf is supposed to be fun. So fun and fast works!

 

What are the biggest future challenges facing Palm Beach Par-3 - short and long term. And what strategic steps are you implementing to deal with both?

We do SWOT analysis often. Our biggest challenge currently is staffing. As we raise our standards, we are looking not for just warm bodies, but the right people who will be great ambassadors for us.

Secondly, as our expenses rise through inflation and our needs, we are forced to keep raising our prices. Trees don’t grow to the sky. Lastly, the economy is always a concern – even in Palm Beach.

***

For more info go to:

www.golfontheocean.com

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About M. James Ward

A GWAA and MGWA member, the 66-year-old from the USA has covered golf in all facets since 1980, notably the major championships and other high level events. He has played over 2,000 courses globally and has competed in USGA Championships.

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