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Meet The Golf Pros at The Cliffs

Jul 21, 2021

The Instructors Who Take Golf Pro Lessons to The Next Level

At The Cliffs, golf is a way of life, which is why our community’s Golf Professionals take what they do seriously, while also working to ensure that golf is fun for everyone. Their time is mainly spent out on the course with you, working closely with you to provide instruction and feedback. They aim to help you become a better player and enjoy your time on the course. Their staff often works together to host clinics, lessons, and tournaments. Every once in a while, they may work with our Golf Pro Shop Managers to suggest the best equipment for you. 

Meet three of the seven talented Golf Professionals at The Cliffs below.

Sean Kennedy, Director of Golf Instruction at The Cliffs

His Unexpected Background

Sean’s background wasn’t a direct path into the world of golf, but nonetheless, it still makes him a great fit for the job. He played golf on the men’s team at the College of Charleston and majored in chemistry and math. His background has helped him become a more effective instructor and player, providing him with critical thinking skills necessary to help golfers move the club more effectively. “Having competed at a fairly high level, I can relate to the mental and emotional aspects” of playing golf, Sean adds.

Golf Pro Lessons

Sean arrives at the course first thing in the morning to set up everything he needs for the day. He practices a few shots to get in a quick warm up before greeting his first 1:1 student or group to start golf pro lessons. Whether it is improving a swing or fine-tuning a putt, he passes along his love and passion for golf to his students. 

Thoughts on the Matter

When asked what he enjoys most about his home course, Sean’s reply is short and sweet. “I have 7 of them. That’s what I enjoy most.” To all players at The Cliffs, he recommends investing in PING products. Sean also mentions the importance of drinking lots of water when spending a day out on the course. 

Brad Fowler, Director of Golf at The Cliffs at Keowee Vineyards

His Path to Golf

Brad attended Mississippi State University, enrolling in a PGA Golf Management program. At that time, only four schools in the entire country offered the program. This program is designed to prepare future PGA Golf Professionals to teach and promote the game, as well as to manage the business and hospitality side of golf. 

His career started in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, home of the PGA Tour. Working at an upscale country club for nine years helped him develop all the nuances needed for effective leadership.  Brad says that “as club professionals, we don’t specialize in one aspect of the game. Our roles change minute by minute.” Brad credits his 15-year career at The Cliffs at Keowee Vineyards to patience and adaptability.

His Favorites at The Cliffs

The remarkable design by Tom Fazio at the Keowee Vineyards golf course affords lakefront holes on both the front nine and back nine. “With close to 20% of rounds played being 9-hole rounds, it’s nice to have the views that make Keowee Vineyards special available on both sides of the golf course.” Sounds like a delightful day out on the water — err, golf course!

Everyday Something New

Members are aware that the beauty of The Cliffs is that no two days are alike. The same is true for our Golf Professionals who perform many duties, aside golf pro lessons. Brad explains that throughout the day he moves between serving the members and serving the staff. “The hub of the operation is the bag drop where most golfers begin and end their golf experience, so I like to be there at key times of the day. Later in the day I’m likely to be in the Golf Shop or office planning and preparing for the next day’s activities.” 

One Thing to Remember

His one tip he wants all players to remember? Stay positive and light-hearted when it comes to playing! “In golf, we need to encourage and reward ourselves because the game doesn’t come easy, particularly with how the United States Golf Association measures a player’s ability.” On the golf course it’s easy to get wrapped up in finding faults with your shots and swings or focusing on the threats and obstacles on the course, but it can eventually take away your love for the game! Instead, just enjoy the process and have fun while you play. “If things don’t go well, don’t dwell on what went wrong. Instead, use reflection to determine what I can do differently the next time.”

Matt Pavia, Director of Golf at The Cliffs Valley

A Young Start

He started playing golf at the age of 13 and working at Oakmont Country Club at the age of 16. Matt then went on to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and graduated with a degree in business. After graduation, he says, “I decided to give the golf business a try before I headed into the world of finance. Once I got my first job as an entry level assistant, I never looked back!” Twenty one years later, he is still enamored with his career as a golf professional. In fact, September will mark Matt’s 8th year with The Cliffs. 

Dreaming of Vistas

Like most golfers who play a round at any of the seven signature golf courses at The Cliffs, he can’t get enough of the views. His favorite course is The Cliffs Valley because it’s not only enjoyable, but it’s playable for all levels. The course’s layout and routing makes for a beautiful playing venue with some breathtaking vistas. 

Behind the Scenes

Matt notes that a lot of his time is spent interacting with staff, members, and guests. “You will see me and our professional staff in the golf shop, on the range, making service laps on the course, and helping our staff run the day-to-day activities.” He oversees a lot of behind-the-scenes planning for big golf events. The club is constantly hosting tournaments and games, so there is rarely a week that goes by when there is not something going on. Matt says he will never miss a chance to be involved in those events. Whether starting the groups, watching the play on the course, or sometimes even playing in them!

From Green to Shining Tee

Golfers of all levels should “work on their game” from the green back to the tee. Spending time on putting and shots around the green rather than those long clubs can improve any player’s game.” Taking golf pro lessons with one of the Directors here is a great start. He also stresses the importance of properly-fitted equipment. As a staff member with Taylor-Made for over a decade, he knows the innovation and technology that goes into their clubs and how they can drastically improve a golfer’s score. 

Mike Steele, Director of Golf Instruction at The Cliffs at Walnut Cove

A Family Business

Mike Steele, Director of Golf Instruction at The Cliffs at Walnut Cove, started playing golf at an early age due to his family’s involvement with the sport. His father is “a PGA Lifetime member and was the longtime Head Golf Professional at Audubon Country Club located in Naples, Florida.” During the course of Mike’s career, he has worked at great clubs offering golf pro lessons and learned from some of the best professionals in the business.  

The Beauty of Walnut Cove

The Cliffs at Walnut Cove is his home course where he teaches classes and private instruction. The varied fairways and views at this course offer a unique game. “I enjoy how different the front 9 and back 9 are from each other. The front 9 is open and plays through old farm lands while the back 9 is tree lined and carved out of a forest. The vistas are not bad either!”

Meet Your Match

He strives to provide a memorable member experience every day. Mike spends a lot of time making sure that his team is prepared to meet that goal. The best way to improve your game is to choose the tees (or yardage) that best match your playing ability. Golfers commonly choose tees that play too long, resulting in poor performance and a bad experience. Rather, he suggests selecting the tees from which you can reach the majority of greens in regulation. 

Golf Course Living at The Cliffs

Longing to make our top-rated courses your home course? Follow in the footsteps of our directors by focusing on advancing your level of play. Every single day of the week offers the chance to play a different course. Plus, there’s no limit as to how many golf pro lessons you can take from our Directors and their incredible staff. As they say, practice makes perfect! Each community even has a golf pro shop to cater to every golfer’s needs. 

Learn more about the benefits of golf course living here at The Cliffs and how we help our members make the most of it! Get in touch with us by clicking the button below. 

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