Cody Barbeau

Sharing The Joy Of Golf

Cody Barbeau
Cody Barbeau / (Photo: Scott MacLeod)

Four years into the role of General Manager at Hylands Golf Club in the south end of Ottawa, Cody Barbeau is extremely happy.  The CPGA Executive Professional is in full flight in the job he always dreamed of having since he started his career.  As a golf professional, the 43 year-old has been dedicated to one thing – ensuring that everybody who plays golf has the some positive experience he remembers having from the first time he took up the game. He can continue to do that in his position with Hylands, a club that serves a large and increasingly diverse membership but is considered to be the premier golf club among those on Canadian military bases.

“I’d been here enough times over the years; I liked the club,” says Barbeau on his decision to leave work as a consultant to fill the shoes of John Meester, the long-time GM at Hylands.  “The military affiliation fascinated me as well,” he adds, explaining that his father was in the Air Force and served in the Second World War. “In a personal way that connected with me as well.”

“The thing that excited me most was the direction that the President and key people wanted the club to go,” says Cody on a bright winter day in the comforts of his office.   “They wanted things to grow and develop from a business standpoint and that is something I love to do.  All the stars aligned.  It was a great opportunity at the right time.”

As a very progressive member of the golf community since Barbeau has served on boards with the National Golf Course Owners Association and Canadian Professional Golfers Association, Hylands is fortunate to have somebody leading the way who cares so much about golf.

That zeal for the game goes a long way back for Barbeau to his days as a boy in the west end of Montreal.

The youngest of five children, Cody, who was born Claude but reverted to a nickname his wife Louise gave him when they lived in the Toronto area, was an avid participant in many sports.  Baseball, soccer, hockey, tennis – he had an attraction to anything competitive and still thrives on the spirit of the battle today. At eleven, a buddy, John Gendron, called Cody and asked him if he wanted to go to the soccer park to hit golf balls. “I remember the first club he gave me was some two iron by Jelinek with a shiny grip.  I swung away at it with a baseball swing and probably missed five or six times. When I hit the ball the first time, even though it only went about thirty yards, I was just jacked. After that I couldn’t get enough of the game.”

Cody started to play local public courses, most notably the Grove Hill Golf Club in Lachine, which has fallen victim to time.  During a family drive around Ile Bizard, Cody declared to his parents just how in love he was with the sport.  “I told them that I was going to be a golf pro.”  It got a mixed reaction. Nevertheless, Cody was undeterred.

After completing his education at John Abbott College, where he played on the golf team, and contemplated life as a tennis pro ,his other passion, he was a little unsure about where he was headed.  A conversation with his best friend, Pierre Dessureault, about the subject resulted in Cody being forced to take out a phone book and call the first golf course they could find in the book and ask for a job.  Simple as that.

The ploy worked and soon 19 year-old Cody was employed at Golf Dorval, picking the range and working in the shop on occasion.  “That was that and it started the journey,” he says of his unlikely introduction to the business side of the game.

That dream was nurtured even more with the endorsement of one very special person.  Cody met his future wife, Louise, at Golf Dorval where she worked on the grounds crew.  After they began dating, he told her of his hopes to be golf pro, and she encouraged him.  The mutual support remains the same today with Cody never shy to point out that his family is the biggest priority in his life.  Through the years he and Louise have been proud to add four young members to “team Barbeau” – Jake (fourteen), Meg (twelve), and nine-year old twins Cam and Emmy.

Of course, to get a step closer to his goal of being a pro, Cody knew he had to look beyond the confines of a “muni” course in Montreal.

“I sent out thirty resumes to clubs in Ontario and thirty more in Quebec and received one interview,” says Barbeau.  He drove five hours each way through a snowstorm to get to that meeting in Whitby, Ontario and Cody was successful in the interview.  The aspiring pro was now an entry level assistant to Shane Dysart at the Royal Ashburn Golf Club.

At Ashburn, Cody started his apprenticeship in the Canadian PGA, and when his boss moved to the Chestnut Hill Golf Club the next year, he followed suit.

It was just after that when Cody began what he calls “his most influential years” of his career, as he made the jump to the exclusive Summit Golf Club in Richmond Hill.

“I met Ron Raynor and he changed my life,” Cody says of his boss, a legendary CPGA Master Professional.  ‘He is one of the greatest people I have ever met in my life.  He taught me a lot of the business of the game but more than that, he showed me that you can’t be afraid to try things or make mistakes.  He also taught that above everything else, you have to be a good person.  I think about that all the time.”

It was at The Summit that Cody earned his Class A Membership in the CPGA and that still shines as a key moment in his working life.

“I always had a passion and love for the game but when I received my Class A, the passion just seemed to triple for me,” says Barbeau.  “I have the same passion now, maybe even more so, to this day.”

In 1999, Cody was ready for bigger things and moved a little closer to his roots with a move to the Upper Canada Golf Course where he took on the Pro/Manager job.  “It really clicked for me because it was both roles,” he says of why he made the move.  “It was a great time and we met some great people.  There are some members there that I am still very close friends with.”

After four years, Cody would take those skills to Pineview Municipal Golf Course in Ottawa where he jumped on board as the General Manager.  The appeal of the challenge was hard to resist.  In his time there, he took what many considered to be a wavering facility and turned it into one recognized by newspapers, magazines, and the National Golf Course Owner’s Association as a rising star.  “I like a dynamic project where there are many things to do.  I enjoy the process.”  He adds, “Awards are nice, you appreciate the honours, but it takes a team effort; you can’t do it by yourself.”

That still holds true for Barbeau as he engages in many new projects at Hylands, making it better with each passing day.  “You just have to dive in and get your hands dirty, be willing to make mistakes and be honest with yourself.  There is no straight road to where you want to go”

At the same time he never loses site of the family that has his back every step of the way.  In time he would like to get more time to play competitive golf but for now he is more than happy to spend his off-time with his immediate loved ones.

Cody admits he has developed a bit of a ‘Robin Hood syndrome” – he simply loves to come in and help make things better.  “I would love people to enjoy golf as much as I have.  That has fuelled me over my career.  If something I or my team does can make that happen then we are doing our job.”

He concludes, “I’m looking forward to many year s to come.  I don’t think I’ll ever retire.  This is just too much fun.”

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