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Toftrees Director of Golf Went From Caddying to Running a Course

by on July 28, 2012 6:34 AM

It’s hard to imagine that someone would chose a lifetime profession in the golfing business by being a caddy and not even swinging a club for nearly two years before the golf bug would take its bite.

But that’s how Toftrees director of golf Tom Katancik started in the business that is now his passion.

“I actually caddied for two years when I was 14 at Whitford Country Club in Downingtown, Pa., before I ever swung a golf club or played golf,” he said. "Mom (Sue Ellen) never played, Dad (Tom) did and was an avid golfer and was kinda self-taught and never really was a country club type guy. He was a high school teacher and there was a group of teachers that played together all the time.

“Both my parents are now retired and have been living in Myrtle Beach for over 17 years. My younger sister (Amy), also lives in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and is a house Mom, her husband is an attorney in the area. I was born and raised in the Downingtown area and attended Downingtown High School.”

Katancik’s love of golf didn’t come from his parents but from the golf professional where he caddied as a 14-year old.

"But back then I never envisioned making golf my profession. I eventually went to Penn State for sports management and one thing lead to another."

“I basically learned the game of golf at Whitford Golf Course near Downingtown.” Katancik said. “The head golf professional there was Harry Hammond. He’s now the master professional and part owner at Penn Oaks Golf Center in West Chester. He’s basically a living-legend in the PGA.

“Harry Hammond served as Director of Golf at Whitford Country Club, in Downingtown, for 38 years. He had an opportunity to join a group of businessmen in purchasing Penn Oaks Golf Club in 2005 in which he currently serves as a partner and Director of Golf. Harry has built his teaching reputation on the success of his Junior Golf program and the hundreds of juniors he has taught over the years.

“I was supposed to be in sports management (at Penn State), but that never happened. So I received my degree in exercise sports science with a bachelors degree in sports science in the College of Health and Human Development from Penn State and graduated in 1993.”

But that still doesn’t explain how Katancik decided to make the game of golf his lifetime career.

“Although I worked in two golf shops as a college student, these were only summer jobs,” Katancik said. “Once I graduated from Penn State I realized that the experienced I gained that past summer was guiding me towards a career. While in school I never did contemplate a career in golf. After college golf seemed like the clear choice, and with a degree in sports management I was armed and ready.

“Honestly, the couple of jobs I had after graduation made me even more aware, that golf was the destiny intended for me all along. I then interviewed with Pete Marr at Toftrees and Bill Lee, who was the director of golf, and started working as an assistant.

“That was really my first real job in the golf business. I worked at Toftrees for three years then went to Marco Island (Fla.) as an assistant at another Marriott course in the winter, which was awesome.”

But the position at Toftrees was seasonal and Katancik was looking for that one dream job in the golfing business.

“I wanted to go some place full-time so I called the guy I worked for at Marco Island (located on southwest Florida’s Gulf Coast, just south of Naples) who had opened up a new course in Scottsdale, Ariz., and moved out there for two years and then when this job (Toftrees) opened, the Mariott Corp. moved me here,” Katancik said.

“I took over for Darin Helfrick (former golf professional since) who was moved to corporate office. I stayed on at Toftrees to work for the Gregory family that owned Toftrees at that time and have been the director of golf since 2000."

John covers sports for the Gazette.
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