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Casey Brozek, of Crystal Lake Country Club, Honored as Golf Professional of the Year

By Tim Cronin

Casey Brozek is an optimist.

He loves his job, loves the people he works with at Crystal Lake Country Club, and the people he works for.

“Some say that the golf business can be tough,” Brozek wrote in his nomination for Professional of the Year. “I don’t view it that way. To be around the game of golf and see the love of others for the game (and be able to affect and fuel that love) is a privilege. Like many pros, I dedicate a large portion of my life to a career as a PGA professional, but that dedication comes easy because I love it.

“I thrive on the challenges that my career produces. Every day is different because we are always there to deal with different people that come our way. Each of them brings something different our way. It is those people and that variety that makes each day in the golf business a good day.”

Brozek has been at Crystal Lake since 2001. In those 15 years, he’s made a difference many times, so often that this year, he’s the Illinois Section’s Professional of the Year.

Invariably, those who know him call Brozek a leader.

“Casey’s ability to integrate his easy going, friendly personality while leading staff, volunteers and our membership has translated into a wonderful club experience,” Crystal Lake member and grounds committee chairman Dave Lenhard wrote in his support letter. “On a larger more visible scale of Casey’s talent and commitment; Casey is a recent Illinois PGA Section President. These duties and leadership qualities were front and center during the Ryder Cup held at Medinah Country Club in 2012.”

At the club, Brozek has been involved in every significant change over his tenure. He’s also set a tone.

“There is no question that Casey’s best attribute is his dedication to promoting the game of golf,” longtime Crystal Lake member Jason Pero said. “He is seen regularly talking to people from the ages of 4 to 80 about their golf. Casey is always trying to find ways to make the game easier for you. He goes the extra mile to find you that “one” thing that helps us enhance our golf game and make it more enjoyable.

“Casey has been very instrumental in the success of CLCC, not only in the golf operation, but also in helping maintain a strong membership and stable growth during difficult economic times. Many other area clubs have struggled to stay afloat and Casey finds ways that make CLCC relevant to all members. To have a pro like him is a real asset and a great selling tool to potential members.”

Brozek has also grown the game within the club. In recent years, he’s managed to rekindle interest in a ladies nine-hole league.

“Three years ago, I started beginner clinics,” Brozek recalled. “We called the first one the No Intimidation Golf Clinic. It took off like a wild fire. That initial start of six ladies grew to over 45 last year. We had the Six after Six, Never-Evers, Mulligans, and 3 & Wine get together each week.

“Now, while some enjoy staying right where they are, several ladies wanted to advance to the recreational golfer level, so our nine-hole league is back. I am proud to say we have over 20 ladies in our nine-hole league this year.”

He’s helped the caddie program grow from about two dozen boy to about 90 eager boys and girls, with 14 of the club’s 15 Evans Scholar awards over the years coming on his watch.

At the same time, junior golf is bigger than ever at Crystal Lake, with over 90 players, multiple PGA Junior League teams, and an open door.

“We offer a sports camp feel to our program, playing games and combining other athletics with golf,” Brozek said. “We avoid lengthy Rules discussions and tons of talk about how you have to do it. We stress fun and the kids are loving coming to the club for golf. Several of my young students have had success at the junior, high school and even college level. Word of mouth has kept me busy with kids calling from outside our membership.”

He’s also built an escalator for success in his shop. Brozek has seen six former assistants become head professionals, and seven interns become assistants.

“I work to lead them in their daily jobs and create the skills necessary to achieve their ultimate goals,” Brozek said.

“After training his staff to accommodate the needs of our membership, one would think he would not want to lose important staff members,” Lenhard wrote. “But Casey is selfless and works to promote his staff throughout the area and beyond.”

That’s a point of pride to Brozek.

“They are very much like family,” he said. “While our operation and members gain benefit from their work, I am constantly guiding our interns through their projects provide them the necessary hands-on experience working toward their PGA membership. I enjoy seeing them grow into aspiring golf professionals during their short stay with us. I presently have seven interns in assistant golf professional positions and six former assistants working in head golf professional positions.”

Heavily involved in Section duties, Brozek is a past president and has sat on virtually every committee the section has, including the aforementioned Ryder Cup Task Force.

“It has been rewarding for me because it is a way that I have been able to give back to the game of golf,” he noted. “I took pride as an officer of the Illinois PGA when I worked with fellow officers, Section staff and our board of directors to drive our association in a positive direction, one in which our membership was proud to be part of.

“Our member survey has given us opportunities to see if we are meeting the needs of our membership,” he added. “Since we launched the survey, it has been nice to watch the satisfaction levels consistently improve (all due to a tool that helps us analyze our weaknesses).”

Oh, and he’s been able to play a little, too.

“An achievement for my club is to have a good player at the helm,” Brozek said.

Optimist. Leader. Player. This Casey doesn’t strike out.

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