Meet Steve LeBlanc
14 APR 2022
A CONVERSATION WITH STEVE LEBLANC!
Senior Men's Captain, Greg Bright, recently caught up with your new Head Professional, Steve LeBlanc, in an effort to get to know him better. Steve has been a member of the PGA of Canada for more than 10 years. He started his professional career at the Toronto Golf Club while attending the Professional Golf Management Program at Niagara College. Since 2014, Steve has been at Cutten Fields in Guelph, where he developed his skills in Event Planning, Retail Management, Instruction and Club Fitting.
Where were you born and where have you lived? I was born in Montreal, and lived in the Kirkland area on the West Island until I was five years old. My father transferred from Montreal Trust to ScotiaBank in 1992 and we relocated to Oakville. I attended Loyola High School and then lived in St. Catherines while attending Niagara College. I have resided in Guelph for the past eight years and will consider moving closer to RattleSnake in the coming year.
Did you grow up in a golf family? Yes, golf was a family affair in the LeBlanc household. We grew up with a family membership at Credit Valley Golf & Country Club. My mother and brother are still members there, while my father now plays out of the Oakville Golf Club.
How about pets? Yes, my girlfriend Jess and I have a pandemic puppy - a black lab/retriever/collie mix. Her name is Nova and she just turned two years old.
Outside of golf, what other sports interest you? I've been involved in sports all my life. I started snowboarding when I was three years old, and I still get out a few times every winter. I also played football and I actively follow the NFL. GO BILLS! Basketball is another sport I enjoy, and I still play it on a recreational level.
Do you have a favorite ski hill? Yes, Mont Tremblant in the Laurentians, because I have so many memories of snowboarding there with my friends and family. I have also boarded in Banff, Whistler and Vermont. Next on my list are trips to Colorado and Salt Lake City.
Fiction or Non-Fiction? Both! I love to read and just finished "The First 90 Days" by Michael Watkins. It's an excellent book that overviews strategies which are shortening my learning curve as I adjust to my new role here at RattleSnake.
Do you consider yourself a curious person and, if so, what has sparked your interest lately? Yes, absolutely, I'm a curious person! It's very important for me to be current on emerging golf trends if I'm going to do my job effectively. I consider myself a lifelong learner and I take my personal development very seriously. To supplement my knowledge during the offseason, I regularly attend industry seminars and club fitting workshops, and I also try to take advantage of networking opportunities. Naturally, my new job here at the club has sparked my imagination big time. I'm eager to learn more about our leadership team, our management philosophies, and our customer service strategies.
What led you to a career in golf? I decided to take the cliche advice, "find something you love doing, and then find a way to make a living at it!" As I mentioned earlier, I was more interested in snowboarding, football, and basketball as a teenager. It wasn't until after high school, when I took a summer job cutting greens at White Oaks Golf Club, that I developed my love for golf. Since then, I've been fully committed to my craft and haven't looked back.
What's your best golf score? Even par 70 at Cutten Fields. I've been well under par during many rounds but haven't been able to seal the deal. I don't get a lot of time to work on my game, because the golf season is so busy, but I'm still working towards that goal.
Who are some of your favorite professional golfers? Tiger Woods, of course, tops the list. Charley Hoffman is also a favorite. A good friend of mine caddies for Charley during the Canadian Open Pro Am from time to time. Charley even got us tickets to the Waste Management Phoenix Open back in 2019.
What are some of your favorite golf courses? I'd have to say Augusta National, Pebble Beach and Bay Hill. There are others but I've had the pleasure of playing both Pebble and Bay Hill, and I attended the 2015 Masters. Sawgrass is next on my list!
What's your most memorable golf experience? Hands down, Pebble Beach in 2014 with my father. We went there to celebrate his retirement. We played Pebble, Spyglass Hill and Spanish Bay. It was the trip of a lifetime to that point. The conditions were ideal and the scenery was spectacular. In my opinion, the Monterey Peninsula is like heaven on earth.
Putter or Driver? Putter, for sure! People say I'm a good putter but we all have our bad days. We had a pool table at home while I was growing up, and those long hours spent in the basement have benefited me on the greens.
What are the key responsibilities in your new role as Head Professional? I'll be primarily focused on meeting our staffing requirements as well as Member Events this year. I held similar responsibilities in my previous role at Cutten Fields and am looking forward to transferring my skills to RattleSnake. That's my immediate plan, but in this business, things can change quickly, and I'm sure there will be lots of adjustments along the way. Already, I've noticed how differently the two clubs operate; both in terms of scale as well as event formats.
What's the best thing about being a golf professional? Well, there are so many great things but I'd have to say the best thing is the instant sense of community when you are 'The Pro'. It's a great feeling coming into a club and having everyone know your name. Kind of like the show, Cheers! The relationships and connections created are invaluable.
Do you have a preferred style or philosophy for teaching golf? I subscribe to the K.I.S.S. philosophy. I always try to dumb down the terminology I use into its simplest form. The goal is not to create confusion. When I'm working on a swing adjustment with a member, I want my message to be clear and I want them to think, "yes, that's simple. I can do that!"
If you could pick one element of the game you'd recommend the average golfer focus on, what would it be? For the average golfer who has already mastered the basics - grip, alignment, and posture - the focus should be on the shot type that's costing them the most strokes. Shot type can be anything from chipping and putting to the driver and fairway metals, including everything in between. Try to spend 75% of your practice time working on those troublesome shots, and the remaining 25% maintaining your strengths. I strongly recommend seeing one of our Golf Instructors to get started, by creating a plan that works for your game.
What recent trend in the golf industry has really caught your attention? I would say three things: the renewed interest in golf, the variety of fashion choices, and the focus on distance at the professional level. Our game continues to evolve in so many ways. It's also becoming more inclusive, and the recent influx of first-time golfers has created additional demands on how golf clubs will operate in the future.
Coming out of the pandemic, what's the biggest challenge you see us facing at Rattlesnake this season? While there are many challenges, if I was to pick just one, I'd have to say, 'member retention'. The demand for golf tends to be like a rollercoaster, and the pandemic has pushed golf to an all-time high in terms of participation. As we come out of the pandemic, it will be vital for us to retain our members. Golfers will have less leisure time and there will be more competition for their disposable income. It will be more important than ever to prioritize the needs of our members, and not take anything for granted.
Thanks, Steve! I look forward to getting you out with the Seniors League this year. You're welcome, Greg. I am beyond excited for the upcoming season!
Our interview has been edited for length and clarity.