To Hawaii and back again, Patrick Clary is named new Breckenridge golf director
This coming weekend, the PGA Tour will host the Tournament of Champions at the same golf course where Patrick Clary received the bulk of his golf professional education.
On the Kapalua Plantation Course — 18 holes of dramatic elevation changes overlooking the Pacific Ocean on the island of Maui — Clary found his perfect job in paradise. But he ended up at Kapalua originally as a wintertime getaway from his golf pro job at Castle Pines Golf Club in Castle Rock, he said.
“I had all the intention to come back to Colorado after a season in Hawaii,” the 40-year-old Clary said Wednesday. “I went to Maui with the intention of staying for six months. I ended up staying for seven years.”
Kapalua was Clary’s first stop in Hawaii, his second coming most recently as head golf professional at Kohanaiki for the past eight years. But with his children growing older, Clary is trading putts in paradise for rounds in the Rockies — the place where he first learned the sport under the wing of his father, Tom, who was a golf professional in the Vail Valley for about a half-century.
“When the opportunity arose, it was a no-brainer to come to a fantastic place such as Breckenridge with a rich and deep history of golf,” Clary said.
Clary said he was practically born into the sport.
“I had a fond appreciation for my dad’s profession and what he did,” Clary said. “I enjoyed getting out and playing. And whether I liked it or not, my father would make me go to the range — to get me out of mother’s hair sometimes. He was the inspiration in getting me into golf.”
Clary’s golf journey took him from his hometown of Avon to local Rocky Mountain courses, namely Beaver Creek Golf Club, where he spent 15 years in the 1980s and 1990s. It was at Beaver Creek that Clary grew fond of the seasonal passion many local skiers have for golf. With a short season and fickle weather, locals try to get as much time on course as they can fit into long summer days. To Clary, the summertime equivalent of a powder day is golfing an 80-degree day with partly cloudy skies, light wind, fast greens and friends around.
As Clary turns his attention to Breckenridge Golf Club — where he will succeed the course’s longtime Director of Golf Erroll Miller — he said the people and the course’s playability despite weather challenges are what make Breckenridge one of the most attractive golfing destinations in the mountains.
To Breckenridge, Clary will bring golf course management and customer service skills honed in Hawaii. At a place like Kohanaiki, Clary was around the likes of Ben Crenshaw, a World Golf Hall of Fame member and two-time Masters Tournament champion, who was a member at the club.
“And he was not only a two-time Masters champion, he was a world-renowned golf course designer and even better person,” Clary said. “Very genuine, true to the game, and he understands the tradition and rich history of golf and really personifies what a professional golfer should be and should aspire to be. He was an amazing influence on me in terms of the dedication to the game and in respecting other people.”
Breckenridge Golf Club has its own golfing legend at the heart of its story: Jack Nicklaus. As a 27-hole destination complete with three nine-hole courses, the club designed by “The Golden Bear” comes with tradition built up by Miller. Breckenridge Town Manager Rick Holman knows that and knows how important an amenity the club is to the town in winter and summer. That said, Holman said he looks forward to Clary building upon the 36-year success of Miller, who retired at the end of 2020.
Clary said his first goal is to continue the tradition of world-class golf at Breckenridge that he attributes to Miller.
“He’s an institution at Breckenridge who started at the very beginning,” Clary said. “A lot of credit is due to him for really putting it on the map. My coming into Breckenridge, my goal and vision is to take that tradition and build upon it, to make it — the experience — even better for anyone walking through that door.”
In terms of challenges at the club, Clary said the most immediate one will be meeting last year’s record amount of golfers. Clary acknowledges COVID-19 has, in more ways than one, crippled the entire world and economy. But it seems to him that golf is one thing that very much thrived throughout the pandemic.
“And we are really lucky that was the case,” he said. “It brought more people and families into the game. People that normally would never even think about picking up a golf club might have picked up a golf club (last) year. The challenge is to keep up that excitement and momentum afforded to us last year.”
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