Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a career as a golf professional?
Golf is a game for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re an avid golfer or just getting started; it’s always fun to play. It also helps that there are many golf professionals that can help teach even the most novice players how to improve their swing and score better on the course. In this interview with TJ Baggett, PGA General Manager, he gives us the inside scoop about his career and answers some of your questions about this sport we all love so much.
Interview with TJ Baggett – Golf Pro at Pete Dye River Course at Virginia Tech
About TJ Baggett
A PGA Member, TJ Baggett offers important professional experience to the Pete Dye River Course of Virginia Tech, located in Blacksburg, Virginia. This includes experience gained across the United States, The Bahamas and Russia. He most recently was head golf professional for TPC Piper Glen of Charlotte, North Carolina. Prior to this he served as director of golf sales for PGA National Spa & Resort of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, and as PGA general manager for TPC at Baha Mar, Nassau, The Bahamas.
Earlier in his career Mr. Baggett was PGA general manager for the Don Golf & Country Club of Stanitsa, Russia, where he was actively involved in opening the property. For seven years Mr. Baggett hosted the nationally televised Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational at the award-winning Ocean Club Golf Course in The Bahamas.
TJ attended Methodist University of Fayetteville, North Carolina. A native of Virginia, he relocated to Blacksburg with his wife Erin.
Tell us a bit about your golf career.
My golf career began when I was 13 at a 9-hole course in the Richmond area. My friends and I rode bikes to eat french fries in the grill, which turned into raking bunkers, and eventually, the five of us becoming the maintenance department by the time we were in our mid-teens. This led to all of us learning to play, and ultimately golf becoming my passion and career. I am now a life member of the PGA of America, having served the game for over 30 years. I met my wife, Erin, while working in the Bahamas, and I would not have experienced many of the different places I have without her support. After the Bahamas, I moved her to Florida, Missouri, California, Hawaii, back to the Bahamas, Florida again, and now the New River Valley here in Southwest Virginia. We love dogs, and Erin is a horse owner as well as a good golfer herself.
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How did you come to be the golf pro at Virginia Tech?
When I saw the position posted, I immediately focused all efforts on being selected as the candidate. First, I have been a Hokie sports fan my entire life, and what better place to live and work. I was fortunate to be selected after the interview process and have very much enjoyed the first year.
What is your favorite hole on the Pete Dye River Course, and why is it your favorite?
Very difficult question as they are all great! I would say hole 4 stands out for me because of the challenge and character it adds to a course situated along 2.5 miles of the New River. After completing the third hole, a nice par-5 running parallel to the river, you turn left and are immediately greeted by a 100-foot-high wall of wilderness and jagged rock outcroppings on the right side. If that’s not enough, you have to navigate a narrow fairway bordered by a lake on the left side while looking at the mountain on the right. The approach shot is also protected on the front left by the lake. The hole looks different from all the others on the course and is very challenging.
What makes this course special?
The obvious answer is the facility being situated along the New River and the raw beauty of the setting. I have been fortunate to work at some of the world’s most beautiful courses, and this one is right up there. The course itself becomes etched in your memory not only because of the setting but more so from the subtle genius of Mr. Dye. What appears to be a flat, simple layout starts to get under your skin as soon as you miss your first green in regulation. Pete Dye was a master at making golfers think and use the various options presented, especially in the short game.
A short game is the key to success at the River Course.
What are your favorite weather conditions to play the game?
I have not owned a rain suit for a very long time, so that should answer the question. I don’t play enough anymore to shoot in the ‘70s consistently, but I want to play in temperatures equal to a good score!
What is your personal tip for shaving strokes off your score?
One hundred yards and in. That’s always my answer because the best players in the world all have the best short games. You can’t just be a good driver or iron player golf requires more work on the short game than any facet to be successful. Anyone spending more time on their game in this area rather than hitting balls on the range will see scores dramatically improve.
If you’re interested in perusing the green, working on your putting skills, or a weekend golf getaway, be sure to check out The Inn at Virginia Tech’s River Golf Course Package, which includes greens fees, cart fees, accommodations, and even breakfast! It’s a weekend you’ll be sure to remember!