On the Job: Jeff Covington on Being a Golf Professional

Golf professional and Colorado native Jeff Covington talks about his career in golf and the beauty of the game.

More than anything, Jeff Covington loves building relationships on and off the green.

His industrious career as a golf pro started in 2009. Based out of Blackstone Country Club and Black Bear Golf Club in Aurora, his love for golf has actually taken him all over Colorado and Florida, and even to North Dakota for a while—having worked and played at some of the most beautiful courses in the country. With a passion for the sport and how it brings people together, Covington is grateful his job provides the opportunity to build concrete connections.

DLM: How long have you been a big fan of golf?
“Golf has always been a passion of mine, ever since I was young. My grandfather introduced me to the game and at 14 years old I landed a job at Rolling Hills Country Club in Golden. Then, as most teens do, I spent some time figuring things out and decided to explore other options. I even ran a painting company for a while. I guess you could say I was a bit young to know exactly what I wanted to do for a living, so I took some time to find my way.”

When did you decide to return to the green?
“I got back into golf in 2007 when I moved to Florida. My wife suggested I do something I love, so I decided on the Golf Academy of America (GAA) in Orlando because my father lives there. My wife and I moved south so I could attend the school. When we moved back to Colorado, I got a position at Castle Pines Golf Club. I was born and raised here in Wheat Ridge, so I guess I always knew that I’d come back to Colorado one day. I just needed a change at one point. Golf has always been a big part of my life.”

What are some misconceptions about being a golf pro?
“First of all, there’s a big difference between a golf professional and a professional golfer. When I first started my career, all of my friends assumed I was just out there playing golf all day, which wasn’t the case. My role is a lot more business-oriented than people realize. Sure, members want to play golf with us, but it’s more about the business side. I’m heavily involved in the accounting aspect of the club compared to where I was when I was an assistant doing inventory in the shop and running different events. Now I make sure that my golf operation is running smoothly. It’s a business, after all.”

Do you still instruct?
“Yes, I still do some one-on-ones. I love teaching—it’s the best way to grow the game of golf. I want to make sure everyone loves the game as much as I do. I also have a Director of Instruction that I push clients to if I don’t have time to teach. However, I still enjoy getting out there when I can and working with clients. I absolutely love when it just clicks and they hit a great shot. That means the world to me to see the smile on their face.”

Do you play on your days off?
“If I had more time I would play more outside of the clubs. Especially during the pandemic, I have played only three rounds with friends at other courses. It’s nice to play with my buddies and just enjoy the game.”

What is the difference between private and public courses?
“Castle Pines Golf Club was great [when I was there] because they had national members and it’s exclusively private. What I love about the private side is the relationships that you can build with your members. From 2015-2018, I was at a fantastic public facility in North Dakota. At public courses it’s tough to build the same connections, but I made some wonderful relationships during my time at The Links of ND. Basically, you’re making sure [players] have a great day and look forward to them coming back; whereas at private clubs, you build relationships that can translate into members staying a long time. That’s where the ambassadorship side of my role comes into play.”

What kind of education do you need to be a golf pro?
“I have a two-year associate degree in Golf Operations & Management. But if I were a high school student wanting to get into this profession today, I would go to a four-year college PGA Management Program. You come out with a bachelor’s degree, but also a class A PGA certification. The University of Colorado in Colorado Springs has a PGM program.”

What’s the best thing about being a golf pro?
“In my position it’s nice to take members on trips, sometimes out-of-state, to play different courses. Traveling with members is part of my job but the benefit that comes from it is the lifelong friendships. However, with that comes a level of professionalism. I learned early on that you are the employee working for them, but in some wonderful instances you may come away with a great friend or two who has the same interests as you.”

What do you value most about what you do for a living?
“For me, what I truly love is the connections I’ve made over the years. I was at Castle Pines for six years and up north for four years—and am still in touch with many golfers. I love building and serving the community that I support. Golf helps you do that. It’s also a great way for families to be engaged with one another. At Blackstone and Black Bear, we have a huge junior program as well as a ladies club that gets more people interested in golf. Since 2008, more courses have closed than opened, and I’d like to see that swing in the other direction. Getting kids involved and showing them it’s a great sport that you can do well into your 70s is my goal. [Golf] is one sport that you can play over the course of your entire life.”

Are there any courses you’d like to play but haven’t yet?
“In Colorado, the two courses I’d love to play are Ballyneal and CommonGround.”

Edit by Kerrie Lee Brown
Photography by Jeff Nelson