Talking Shop with Golf Pro Ron Thomason
The shift to Head Golf Pro at Cape Fear National came as a very natural transition for Ron Thomason. He started off his professional career in the Cape Fear region, where he served as Head Golf Pro at Porter’s Neck Country Club. He took off for a stint at Linville Ridge Country Club in western North Carolina, but eventually the coast drew him back.
Thomason worked as a pro at the course on Bald Head Island but chose to take up residency in Leland. “It’s a great place to be a golf professional, and just a great place to live,” Thomason says of Leland.
While living in Leland and making the commute to Bald Head Island, Thomason had the opportunity to see Brunswick Forest unfold.
“I saw Lord Baltimore’s (developer of Brunswick Forest) vision of what this place would be … the plan for it to be a community within itself,” Thomason says.
He was excited by the opportunity the development offered for the region, and when the position of Head Pro at Cape Fear National presented itself Thomason felt as though it was meant for him. The management agreed.
Another motivator for Thomason to move his career to Leland is that the area is a great place to raise children. His daughters, Annika, 11, and Eriko, 8, presently reside in Japan but will soon come to North Carolina to live with Thomason. “They like the beach, the water and the neighborhood,” he says. “And it is so close to Wilmington too. They think it’s a great place.”
Thomason got his start in the sport of golf in his childhood years in Marion, Virginia.
“I grew up in a rural area in Virginia,” he says. “There was a country golf course and that was about all there was to do in town. We didn’t have video games or anything. So we [Thomason and his two brothers] would play golf all the time.”
If the weather was warm, the boys would be on the course on the weekends, during school breaks and on afternoons after school. As brothers generally are, the three were very competitive with one another, which Thomason now sees as one of the driving forces that advanced him as a player. “Golf has been in my blood ever since,” he says.
Thomason enjoys passing on his love of golf to others. Thomason and his assistant, Adam Clark, routinely provide private as well as group lessons to golfers at the course.
“The lessons really depend on the player,” Thomason says. “Sometimes it will just be one lesson for someone who is about to play a round. Other times it may be a series of six lessons.”
The lessons can be designed to accommodate a beginning golfer who wants help with the fundamentals of golf or they can be designed to help an advanced golfer troubleshoot specific aspects of his or her game.
When asked how many lessons are required before significant results can he achieved, Thomason says that while this really varies and depends on the player, he will say that the main factor is how much practice the player is willing to put in on his or her own.
“You can’t just get a lesson and expect to get better,” he says. “You have to work on it. If a player takes a couple lessons and practices on their own at least twice a week at one to one-and-a-half-hour sessions, they should see improvement within two weeks.”
Also, Thomason advises his students to practice wisely, especially when taking lessons. “You should work on the items we worked on in the lessons,” he says. For example, if Thomason worked on straightening out the student’s fairway woods with them, the student should not then conduct a practice that includes long irons, putting, chipping and driving. “Don’t try to over-do it or your habits will get more intense,” he warns.
The course at Cape Fear National inspires players to take lessons in order to sharpen their skills for the epic shots that the course will allow them. The beauty and intricacy of the course is too perfect to blow on a miss-hit shot.
Acclaimed golf-course designer Tim Cate (who designed other popular courses in southeastern North Carolina, such as Tiger’s Eye and Leopard’s Chase in Sunset Beach) designed Cape Fear National. The course accommodates players of varying skill levels in that the tees range from 4800 total yards to 7200. The water features, the native grasses, the intricately designed hazard areas and just the natural beauty of the landscape make it a privilege to play Cape Fear National, which was recently named 1 of 18 significant course openings in 2010 by Links Magazine.
Thomason describes it well by saying, “The course is open for everyone, but it feels very exclusive by nature.”