Craig resident Jason Back has made permanent a job he had been doing for almost a year.
Back was named interim manager last year at Yampa Valley Golf Course. As of Jan. 1, he is the course’s head golf professional, beating out five other candidates.
“I managed the course last year and I am able to get along with the members,” Back said. “I think the board of directors saw it would be an easy transition.”
Back, 33, started playing golf when he was 11. His 22 years of experience in the sport helped him land the pro position at the golf course.
“As a kid, (golf) was something new to start,” he said. “My mom worked at the golf course restaurant in Meeker, so that, plus my friends, really influenced me to take up the game.”
Back said his playing days helped him build relationships around the Western Slope. Those relationships have been key in the transition to his new job.
“I feel I have a lot of good relationships with other professionals and golfers in Grand Junction, Rifle, and all over Western Colorado,” he said. “Just playing golf and in tournaments throughout the years has made those relationships possible.”
Back managed the Meeker Golf Course at 19 for two summers and was offered the head golf professional position there two years ago.
Because of family obligations in Craig, Back said he had to decline the offer.
“My family was here in Craig and I just couldn’t take the job,” he said. “It turned out great because this is a better job for me.
“It has always been a dream of mine to be a golf pro.”
Back said golf has numerous traits to attract new players.
“Golf is one sport where honesty and integrity are present,” he said. “It is a great game for people to play their whole lives when they get too old for basketball and football.
“Basically, there is an endless amount of time to meet new people and play golf wherever you are.”
Back said he will be bringing in Dave Desarmeaux from Wickenburg, Ariz., to be the new assistant pro after Desarmeaux was the runner-up for the head golf professional job.
Back is also anxious to begin a new season at the golf course. Last year, the course opened April 10. The pro said he’s expecting a similar start date this year.
“Looking at the weather and the way it has been, we think it is possible to open in the first week of April, or at least within the first 10 days,” he said. “We get a lot of business in the beginning of the season.”
Back said Yampa Valley opens a month ahead of courses in Steamboat Springs, which brings more out-of-town players than later in the season.
“The golf course gets a lot of revenue from the Steamboat play,” he said. “While later in the season the play is more local, it is different in the first month or so.”
During the offseason, the golf course has undergone a few minor adjustments, including a remodeled pro shop.
“We brought in new lines of equipment that have not been offered in the past,” Back said. “We also re-did the No. 9 forward tees.”
Coming off the winter in which he took classes to inch closer to his PGA certification, Back will go back to day-to-day operations at the course as the new season approaches.
His jobs will include managing operations, accounting, hiring and managing the staff, conducting lessons, and running tournaments.
“I have to find ways to improve the golf course and bring in additional income,” he said. “I want to keep this a fun place for people to enjoy themselves.”
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