Perseverance Pays Off – Dany Lacombe
The life lessons learned as a young man have paid dividends for Dany Lacombe, Director of Operations at the GreyHawk Golf Club in Ottawa’s East end.
Whether it was assembling pizza boxes, washing buses, working on a greens crew, or in the back shop, Dany gained experience where he learned to work hard with what he had available. It helped him develop the work ethic he has today .
Dany learned at a young age to judge what was right and how little details were important. He also learned to be creative with what he had available and to be aware of what’s happening in the market and how to stay ahead of the game.
Growing up in a small town in Quebec, Dany played baseball, hockey and a little tennis. After school he and his brother Christian, along with their sisters Linda and Nancy, assisted their parents in the home pizza distribution business.
Following an unexpected benching in baseball Dany turned in his uniform and headed for the golf course. It was at Tawachiche, now St-Remi Golf Club, where he learned to play.
After graduating from college with a marketing degree, Dany went back to work in the family business. This venture was short-lived as his father sold the business due to changes in the food industry.
While playing hockey that winter, he found out that several of his friends were heading to Jasper, Alberta where jobs were available. This appealed to him in two respects – he was looking for a job and he also wanted to learn English. After a discussion with his parents, Dany was off to Jasper to look for work.
Dany laughed when he remembered, “My dad bet me a steak dinner that I wouldn’t stay in Jasper for six months. When I returned in November, I reminded my dad and it was the best steak dinner ever.”
Washing deluxe motor coaches for Brewster Transportation in the afternoons helped pay the bills and also gave Dany time to play a little golf. He played one day with a member and expressed an interest in working at the Jasper Park Lodge Golf Club, operated at the time by Canadian Pacific Hotels. It was the right member. He happened to know the superintendent, Brian Smith, and before long Dany found a place on his crew. He worked on the course in the morning and washed buses in the afternoon. Later in the year, he worked in the back shop washing and cleaning clubs.
In 1989, Dany returned to the Jasper Park Lodge Golf Club and turned professional. He learned the basics, mostly in the back shop, from head professional Ron MacLeod.
“Back then, I thought I was a big shot with my one year’s experience,” Dany recalls about his experience the following year applying for a job at the Royal Montreal Golf Club. Dany ended up working at the Lorrette Golf Club as an assistant under head professional André Gingras. It was there that Dany gained his basic understanding about teaching the game of golf. He had the fortunate experience of assisting renowned teaching professional Chuck Cook during his clinics at the club.
Over the next four years, Dany worked as an assistant for Bob Legare at the Cap Rouge Golf Club. Having gained knowledge and experience, Dany applied for the head professional position when Mr. Legare retired in 1994. Dany wasn’t alone in applying for the position as many of the big names in Quebec also applied. As Dany now says, “I didn’t get the job and it was the best thing that could have happened. I wasn’t ready.”
He did find his first head pro job though, at the Champlain Golf Club in Aylmer, a job that lasted only two years after another group won the operator lease from the NCC. Choosing to stay near home he spent the next year as an assistant at Royal Montreal as they hosted the Canadian Open.
At the conclusion of the year, Dany heard from his friend Ron Richards who had hired him for Champlain but was now working for ClubLink. A head professional position was offered to Dany in the Toronto area, but when he met with ClubLink’s Sandy Baptiste who came from the same area of Quebec as Dany he found out Le Dome Golf Club had been purchased a few days prior to arriving to Toronto. With his car still packed, Dany drove back to Gatineau and ran the Dome Golf Club from 1998 to late in 2001.
Late in 2001 Dany moved over to GreyHawk, another ClubLink property on Boundary Road as the head professional. The Predator course opened in 2002 followed by the Talon course in 2004. Now in his 13th year at GreyHawk, Dany has seen his job description change from head professional to Director of Golf and now Director of Operations. As he looks back on his time at GreyHawk, he says, “I’m proud of my contributions to the development of GreyHawk Golf Club.”
On his success and strength as a manager, Dany says, “I have learned from everybody I worked for and with. I have learned to be flexible, to accept change and I am always trying to better myself. I have also learned never to accept the status quo.” Dany is also innovative in his goal to provide better customer service as well as motivate his employees to enjoy coming to work and for them to become better cohesive unit. Dany has also learned to allow his staff to solve problems and make decisions lessening his work load and giving his staff the confidence they need to better themselves.
These are attributes that he has passed along to current and former staff members.
Ryan Little, Director of Operations at Eagle Creek Golf Club, summed it up best when he talked to Flagstick about his former boss – “I had the privilege of having Dany Lacombe as my mentor for over 10 years and continue to call him for advise all the time. Dany is one of the best in our business he is an extremely passionate individual with outstanding creativity. Working for Dany we never got complacent, every year we tried to be innovated to meet our members and guest expectations and provide a wonderful golf experience. Dany played a huge role in developing my skills as a leader to take on my new position as Director of Operations for Eagle Creek. Dany was my boss and now is a great friend of mine.”
Dany is married to Deborah Mullins, a social worker at the Royal Ottawa Hospital, and they just celebrated their 15th anniversary in January. She plays a few games a year, but it is their 9-year-old son Aldo that may be a growing concern job wise for Dany. Aldo has taken up the game of golf recently and when he is at the club becomes the “de facto” Director of Operations.
Apart from his family, his job and the game of golf, Dany still has a love for the game of baseball and especially his Blue Jays whether he’s listening on the radio or following them on TV.
Dany Lacombe also takes pride in being a former Quebec Assistants Player of the Year in 1993 and Ottawa PGA Professional of the Year and “Bud Malloy Award Winner” in 2008.
But more important to him is his ability to please others and make them more productive and better recognized. As he says, “For the past 10 years, I’ve learned how to manage people and their expectations.” He asserts that he’s learning every day and looks forward to what every new day brings.