Kalamazoo Country Club's head golf pro announces retirement after 40 years

Dick Stewart.PNG
Kalamazoo Country Club's head golf pro announces retirement after 40 years. (WWMT/Zack Lawler)

In the last 40 years, there have been a lot of changes at the Kalamazoo Country Club.

But, one thing has remained constant.

Head golf pro Dick Stewart has been a leader, a mentor and a friend throughout his decades-long career.

Stewart will now pass the baton and retire from what he calls a "ride of a lifetime."

At any time of day, and at any one of these 18 holes, Dick Stewart will bump into one of his buddies.

"I can recognize them, frankly, almost by their swing from a hundred yards awayI know every member by name, for sure," Stewart said.

And, they all know him. For 40 years, he's called the Kalamazoo Country Club home.

The Harbor Springs native first arrived in the fall of 1978 as a newlywed and just 26-years-old.

It's here, in a city he had never visited before, that he and his wife, Joanne, would raise their three daughters.

"There's all kinds of kids’ activities and kids’ camps and junior golf and it's really kind of a stay-cation at this point in time, and there's so many family activities going on at the club now which was way different than it was 40 years ago," Stewart said.

It's easy to pick up on his passion for this place. A two-time Michigan PGA Golf Pro of the Year, Stewart's fun spirit is as firmly rooted here as these century-old trees.

“Every day I come to work, I want to belly laugh about six times. And, I'm at a job that allows me to do something like that," Stewart said.

The job has also allowed him to travel. In the last 40 years, Stewart has played 87 of the top 100 clubs in the United States and has led 20 trips to Ireland and Scotland.

"I've been very fortunate to play many of the very top courses, not just in the country, but in the world,” Stewart said. “So, that's been a big perk of the job, and there aren't too many left on my bucket list."

But, Stewart says the source of his most treasured memories is and always will be Kalamazoo.

Recognized as a PGA Merchandiser of the Year in 2006 and appearing 15 times on the list for Top 100 Golf Shops in America.

Stewart has enjoyed sharing his knowledge.

He estimates he's trained close to 4,000 caddies and has fast-tracked the careers of two dozen former assistants.

"One of the things I'm most proud of is the fact that 24 of my staff members have gone on to become head [golf] pros in running their own clubs around the country, so that's been important to me to see that the people who work for me have gone on to become successful," Stewart said.

Stewart is now just days away from his last day at this outdoor office. As they say, he's completed his round.

And what a round it was.

"I look forward to coming down on occasion, and perhaps playing in events here at the club, and bothering everybody every chance I get," Stewart said.

Stewart will retire to Harbor Springs.

He says he's eager to spend more time with his family, including his 13-week-old grandson.

Kyle Horton, the current assistant club pro who Stewart says is ‘like a son,’ will be promoted to head pro and director of golf at the Kalamazoo Country Club.