SARATOGA SPRINGS – In an era when very few club pros are able to stay in one place for very long, veteran Bill Richardson has overseen tremendous growth and development for over a quarter of a century at the popular Saratoga Golf Course. Spa State Park in Saratoga Springs.
Richardson, 72, a graduate of Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School and St. Lawrence University, retires as General Manager of Saratoga Spa after an eventful 26-year career. He first served a six-year professional services contract at Saratoga Spa GC starting in 1996, when he was licensed to manage the pro’s shop, driving range, and golf carts, similar to the roles that most professionals from local clubs are used to it. After that, he signed a 20-year contract to operate the two golf courses – including an executive course – and the restaurant. This contract as general manager expired this year.
“I look forward to the next phase of my life,” said Richardson. “I will miss people, but I can’t wait for the next chapter. Right now I’m finishing everything in class and getting all my things together. I’ll see what develops.
When Richardson first returned to the course, which is part of the New York State Department of Parks, he was not in his best shape.
“We demolished the old pro store and rebuilt it,” said Richardson. “Then we did a huge amount of work on the course itself. I’m sure a lot of people don’t remember how difficult the course was back then when I first arrived. We have invested more than $ 4 million in total over the past 20 years. A 20-year contract is the most important the state park system can offer, and this course required a large investment at the time. They needed to attract someone to improve the whole facility.
In recent years, Saratoga Spa has been rated as one of the Capital Region’s most popular public courses due to its excellent layout, skill testing, and general facilities. In fact, for many years, players who hoped to play at Saratoga Spa often found it difficult to make a reservation.
“I would say from our agency’s point of view, the last 20 years have been a win-win situation with Bill Richardson in charge of Saratoga Spa,” said Kevin Cassidy, director of the NYS parks department, who held this position. post for 23 years and got to know Richardson very well.
“Instead of being her boss, it was more about working together as partners,” Cassidy said. “I think Bill has done a really good job running and running the Saratoga Spa not only for the NYS Parks Department, but for golfers and customers as well. Without a doubt, Bill made a lot of improvements, even reverting to his original contract.
Cassidy said Richardson has launched an advertising campaign to attract more players.
“We used to have 5 1/2 to 6 hour rounds here, but to his credit, along with his staff, they took over and were determined to make Saratoga the home of the 4 1 round. /2 hours. My God, he definitely accomplished this, ”Cassidy said. “It has improved the golfer’s experience.”
Cassidy said that wasn’t the only improvement Richardson had made.
“He redesigned the pro shop, which was always well stocked with top brand items. Plus he’s made so many improvements to the course, ”said Cassidy. “He redone all the bunkers and put in a number of drainage projects. He also rebuilt the 10th green which greatly improved this hole. In addition, the conditioning of the course has also been improved by opening a number of windows for more sun and air circulation. Because of this, our turf has improved considerably.
“From a state park perspective, it was a great relationship. We think he did a great job.
Richardson’s inaugural season at Saratoga Spa started off well as he ran the facility when he hosted the 1996 NCCAA Division III Golf Championship for Skidmore College. Saratoga Spa was also the home ground for the Section II school championships for many years before eventually relocating to other host venues including Orchard Creek and the Fairways of Halfmoon.
Richardson’s long career included many stops along the way. After playing varsity golf for BH-BL and St. Lawrence University, he immediately enrolled in the PGA training program because he knew he wanted to make golf his career. He obtained his PGA Class A card in the mid-1970s and began working as a pro assistant at the Thousand Islands Club in Alexandria Bay.
After several seasons at Thousand Island, Richardson got a job at Hartford Golf Club before spending a season at Canoe Brook, New Jersey.
He also spent a few seasons moving to other smaller clubs and also served at Green Brook CC before returning to the Capital Region, where he landed a pro position at Antlers CC, now known as Rolling Hills CC. at Antlers at Fort Johnson. .
After his five-year tenure at Antlers CC, he was able to secure the position of Pro Chef at Saratoga Spa.
“I did a lot of different phases in the job, and I enjoyed them all,” Richardson noted. “I taught a lot at the start and enjoyed running the pro shop. I have always been frustrated that I am not a better player. I didn’t really have any highlights of the game to speak of, unfortunately.
Richardson said he was very proud of all of the improvements he helped bring to the course, including major changes to the course design, a significantly improved driving range and the new pro store, during his long run.
“It feels good that we have changed the situation,” he said. “I know how better the course is now, and it’s so nice to hear it. I hear compliments from so many people these days, including the parks department.
Northeastern New York PGA Executive Director Tracie Warner, who has been a chapter member for 20 years, praised Richardson’s success and longevity.
“He didn’t play a lot, but he was absorbed in the business,” Warner said. “Although he didn’t play, he was a big supporter of our tournament program and hosted events on demand, although his facility was always busy. He would host junior events and help us work on them.
“I would say his time at Saratoga Spa was incredibly rare these days.”
PGA Class A member Jon Hines, who worked under Richardson as an assistant, will be the new Saratoga Spa GC dealership.
Contact Bob Weiner at [email protected].
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