By Mike O’Malley
We recently had the chance to catch up with Mike O’Malley, golf pro at The Georgia Club, an upscale, master-planned golf community nestled on 1,500 acres just minutes away from the University of Georgia. When we caught up with Mike, he had just completed the ninth hole of the community’s 27-hole Chancellor Course designed by Denis Griffiths.
O’Malley, who has been a professional golfer for the past 24 years, discussed the community’s golf course being voted one of the best in Georgia by Golf Week Magazine, the benefits of golfing for active adults and what he thinks about the state of golfing in the Athens area.
Q: Generous fairways, meticulously manicured greens, and gorgeous hardwood trees have led to the Chancellors Course at The Georgia Club being named one of the top-rated golf courses in Georgia. Can you discuss the design of the course and what sets it apart from other courses across the state?
A: Our golf course was designed by renowned architect Denis Griffiths in 2001. You might recognize the name. Griffiths holds the distinction of being the only American to design a golf course in St. Andrews, Scotland. When he designed our course, he wanted to make sure that we included bentgrass greens, generous driving zones, limited blind shots and a great overall layout. You can tell he intentionally positioned hazards and bunkers throughout the course to ensure both inexperienced and experienced golfers were challenged.
Q: Recent research shows that Baby Boomers know how important physical activity is for a healthy retirement. Do you see a lot of golfers on the course that are picking up the sport for the first time?
A: At The Georgia Club, we have a good mix of seasoned golfers, beginners and those who are revisiting the sport for the first time in years. We understand that physical activity, golf included, is important for many active adults who reside in our community. When I talk to homeowners that have never played the sport before, I always urge them to give it a try. It often turns out that they really enjoy golf.
Q: You have been around the sport for quite some time. What are some current trends you are seeing in golf?
A: Right now we are seeing an increasing number of millennials picking up the sport. The recent success of young golfers like Jordan Spieth, Ricky Fowler and Rory McIlroy has really heightened awareness among the younger generation. At the Chancellor course, I have personally noticed an increase in the number of younger folks on the course each week. I hope to see this continue.
Q: The Georgia Club was recently voted one of the top 50 master planned communities in the United States by Where to Retire Magazine. In the publication’s write up, the golf course was cited as an important amenity. When prospective residents visit the community, do you speak to them about the course?
A: Yes, I try to spend as much time as possible talking to potential homeowners not only about our course, but the community in general. It offers them a different perspective on what we offer. While our golf course has grabbed headlines in recent months, it’s just as important for them to know that we offer state-of-the-art fitness and tennis facilities and various social events throughout the year, including wine dinners, luncheons and holiday activities.
Mike worked for 9 years under the late PGA Hall of Fame Professional, Ed Hoard. Mike attended the Titleist Performance Institute in January 2011 and became a Certified Fitness Professional. Mike’s philosophy on teaching is to evaluate the student’s body, swing, and equipment before making any recommendations.