NEW ULM - Tim Huffman,who is the golf professional at the New Ulm Country Club, has been awarded the Minnesota PGA Facility Promoter of the Year in the Private Facility category.
Other winners were Troy Malo of the Pebble Creek Golf Course in Becker (Pubic Facility) and Eric Peterson of Legacy Courses at Cragins in Brainerd (Resort Category).
Huffman and the rest of the award winners were honored Monday night at the Bunker Hills Golf Club in Coon Rapids, Minn.
The award is given to those professionals who provide outstanding contributions to their facilities. Criteria considered include golf programs offered, tournament operations, merchandising, rules, promotion and history of the facility.
For Huffman, who is now in his 18th year at the NUCC, the award is for a long history of improvements.
Like a golf pro who can turn a player's game around for the better with some lessons, Huffman turned around the New Ulm Country Club.
"When I came here 18 years ago, the New Ulm Country Club was not in good financial standing," said Huffman, who came to New Ulm from Olympic Hills in Eden Prairie. "They were borrowing money to operate from year to year. They had a managment company come down and run it on a lease deal and whatever money they made they would keep. The problem with that is that very little is ever put back into the golf course - the course will get worse and worse. At that time they recapitalized, paid off all of their debts and were debt-free and they raised enough money to put in a new sprinkler system in and fix their parking lot."
At that point, Huffman said he was hired to run the NUCC.
"We have made so many changes that have affected us financially and set us up so if one area does not do well another one still can," Huffman said. "And in the 18 years that I have been here we have not borrowed any money - we have paid for all of our improvements on our own."
One of the non-course improvements that Huffman ovesaw was the front of the clubhouse that he says was a "glorified snack bar."
"They initially sold hot dogs and frozen pizzas - a small bar menu," Huffman said. "And the back we used for private fuuctions - we had a caterer do that. So I changed that and said that we are going to do all of these events ourselves and I hired Vern Bednarek as the banquet cook and he has been doing that ever since.
"Now we do a huge business - a very steady business - and that was a big thing and has made us money."
He then turned the "snack bar" into the Cottonwood Grill, which has more than tripled its sales since.
Huffman has also boosted golf with junior programs and added tournaments such as the B&L and Schell's Bottle Cap that have been huge. He has also increased the attendance of New Ulm golfers at the Country Club with golf promotions.
"If you do not promote the game you are not going to be able to promote your club," Huffman said. "This is a nice award to get especaily living down here in southern Minnesota."