Mike Mendelson makes move to PGA pro for city of Grand Junction
Mike Mendelson has come full circle at Lincoln Park Golf Course.
Mendelson took over as the head PGA professional for the city of Grand Junction on May 20, overseeing the two municipal-run golf courses, Lincoln Park and Tiara Rado.
“When I started playing golf, I was playing at the city golf courses,” Mendelson said. “I played a lot at Lincoln Park and when I played high school golf, we practiced at these places.
“It was nice to get back to my roots where I started playing golf.”
Mendelson, 34, spent the past 13 years at Bookcliff Country Club, including the past six years as the head pro.
Pursuing a position he’s always wanted is one reason Mendelson, who grew up in Grand Junction and graduated from Central High School, made the move.
“I started working in the golf business in 1995 and worked in the Lincoln Park Golf Shop,” Mendelson said. “It (head pro) was always a position I thought I’d want to have some day.”
Mendelson oversees Tiara Rado and Lincoln Park and is in charge of trying to grow the game of golf at both facilities. He’s making a transition from a private golf course at Bookcliff to two public courses.
“I try to bring a little of that private mentality to the city facilities, with that being in my background,” Mendelson said. “But golf is all the same. You have customers and try to give them the best customer service you can when they walk through the door, and they’ll keep coming back.”
The two Grand Junction courses have a lot of history, beginning with the nine-hole Lincoln Park course that opened in 1926.
“I think it’s awesome to have a nine-hole golf course in the center of town,” Mendelson said. “It’s so centrally located that someone can play nine holes after work, because you can play a round there pretty fast.”
There isn’t much room for growth at Lincoln Park because the course is land-locked, but Mendelson wants to try new concepts.
“We have a lot of lunch traffic, so we are talking about figuring out a way where you can play two or three holes and hit a bucket of balls (over the lunch hour),” Mendelson said.
“We are also looking at setting up some more forward tees for beginning golfers so the course isn’t so long when you are starting out.”
Tiara Rado recently completed a major renovation on the back nine, which Mendelson said was a great thing for “The Rock.”
“Coming in afterwards, it’s really nice with the reconstruction,” Mendelson said. “It’s so much more of a challenging course than it was because of what they’ve done by adding water on the back and making each hole individually a challenge.
“Before, it was back and forth, and now each hole has its own character and beauty.”
Mendelson is passionate about keeping the golf programs going at each facility.
One of his main responsibilities is player development, and he cited one program at Tiara Rado that he inherited.
“We have a program called ‘Golf Without Intimidation,’ ” Mendelson said. “Mondays after 5:30 (p.m.) we shut down the back nine, and it’s a way for beginning golfers to go out and play without having the pressure of groups playing behind them or trying to play fast to keep up with a group in front of them.”
Mendelson is also dedicated to building the junior program.
He is a part of the Colorado Golf in Schools program, which is a collaborative effort with the Colorado Open Golf Foundation to introduce school-age children to the sport.
“We want Golf in Schools to feed into our junior programs,” Mendelson said. “We want to build the next generation of players at these courses.”