NCGA Golf

Summer 2019

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T here's plenty of memorabilia touting his 50-year ca- reer as head professional at the storied Sunnyside Country Club in Clovis, now in its 107th year, in- cluding a large portrait in the remodeled clubhouse and a plaque with his name on it next to the flagpole outside the pro shop. Fittingly, Steve Menchinella now has the word "Emeritus" on his business card, a tribute to a man who appears as busy and needed as ever. The throwback skills of "Mench" have played a major role in keeping Sunnyside alive and growing. From creating a unique financial structure with members to developing alluring "trial" memberships to get more new golfers to visit and experience the club, Menchinella works his magic. Sunnyside, a landmark William Bell design, is doing well. "It's all taking care of your membership," said Mark Sherman, the head pro at Green Valley CC who started his career as a club pro under Menchinella nearly three decades ago. "For him, it was always about you looking after the membership first and make sure things are done classy and right." Sunnyside doesn't have starting times. Groups are slot- ted accordingly when ready. It helps that Sunnyside has three tees close to the clubhouse—Nos. 1, 10 and 15—that enable more golfers to get on the course. But it required Menchinella to be on the first tee directing, well, traffic. Working as his assistant was the equivalent of earning an MBA in country-club golf. "I used to tell these kids coming out of Fresno State, 'Work with me for three years and I'll get you a head professional job'," Menchinella said. And he's been as good as his word – Sherman, Mike Paniccia at San Joaquin CC, Paul Wightman at Kings CC are among those who have benefited from the Menchinella finishing school. You hear this among pros in the Northern California Chapter of the PGA: "There's the right way, and there's the Sunnyside way." When Menchinella, who is retired but continues to help on the membership side, toured the course on a busy Saturday, members two fairways away yelled at him to visit, which brought handshakes and ripostes. "You can tell when he gets there because everyone grav- itates towards him," said Terry Treece, the head pro at River Island CC who counts Menchinella as a needed counselor. "Sunnyside is still there because of him. Things at Sunny- side are on an uptick. Not too many people in the golf industry can say that." NCGA.ORG | SUMMER 2019 37 THE QUINTESSENTIAL PRO: Steve Menchinella Working His Magic By Ted Johnson

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