Did Keith Gagnon watch Jon Rahm stride up the walkway to Butler Cabin after the Spaniard’s stellar Sunday performance at The Masters earned Rahm his first green jacket? We don’t know. We weren’t there. But Keith Gagnon was, as he has been for the past seven years.

Gagnon, who joined The Captains in October of 2022 as co-head golf professional along with Pat Fannon, traveled to Georgia on March 30th for a two-week turn at Augusta National as one of 30 PGA pros tasked with providing an elevated patron experience.

“This is my eighth Masters,” said Keith before heading to Augusta, adding, “We are invited on a year-to-year basis and I feel very fortunate to be invited back.”

The Accidental Golfer

Many PGA pros get bitten by the golf bug early on in life. Jay Packett spent his youth walking to The Captains from his childhood home, a bag of clubs slung over one shoulder. Not so much for Keith.

“Golf chose me,” explained Keith. “It became my purpose, passion, and profession at 23.”

It was then, after getting laid off from his job as a radio announcer in Laconia, NH, that Keith was encouraged by a neighbor who was a golf pro to pick up a club.

“I went across the street to play and my life changed that day,” said Keith. “Golf became my absolute obsession. I had to play golf, be around golf, and it’s now been that way for 30 years.”

Keith’s first paid position in golf came in May of 1993 when he got a job at Loudon Country Club in New Hampshire.

“I picked golf balls out of a swamp,” said Keith of his “humble beginnings” in the sport. “But I was working in golf and I loved it.”

After quickly realizing that he found the game itself “cathartic,” and that golf was also something he could “do better athletically than most people,” Keith knew he wanted to become a pro. Yet his road to becoming a PGA pro was a long one.

“I read book after book, watched golf on TV, and played golf constantly,” he said.

In the late 1990s, one needed to pass a player ability test to qualify for the PGA pro program. The test, 36 holes of golf played at an elevated level in one day, proved a challenge for the new golf aficionado. Keith did not pass on his first attempt, nor was the “third time the charm.” Despite getting close on virtually every attempt, it was on Keith’s eighth attempt in 2000 that he qualified. And in 2007, he became a PGA pro.

Keith was still working his way through the PGA pro program when he took a position at Eastward Ho!  in Chatham as first assistant pro. Brian Hamilton, the head pro at Eastward Ho! with whom Keith had worked at Concord Country Club in New Hampshire, had offered him a position at the private Chatham club. After his time there, Keith spent a year commuting to Blue Hill Country Club in Canton before landing back on the Cape at New Seabury, where he spent eight years as first assistant head pro. After a brief stint at Willowbend, Keith worked at Mass Golf for six years as a manager of course ratings.

And then came The Captains.

Since joining us, Keith has proved the yin to Pat Fannon’s yang. Both teach, but Pat is more focused on onboarding and overseeing employees while Keith’s expertise is in club fittings and merchandising.

Much Ado About Merch

Prior to interviewing at The Captains, Keith spent time reconnoitering the situation. As he played the courses and dined at Freemans Grill, Keith noted more than course conditions and creative cuisine. He looked at his fellow players, or, to be more specific, what they were wearing.

Coming from within the world of private clubs, Keith had an understanding of higher-end branded golf apparel, that most coveted of souvenirs often collected by golfers as they travel from club to club. It is just that type of apparel that Keith noticed both member and visitor players sporting (pun very much intended) on the courses. And he saw potential — big potential.

The Captains has the largest pro shop of any of the destination courses on the Cape, and it was filled good quality, mid-range gear and clothing. Since starting in October, Keith has been on a bit of spending spree, reaching out to suppliers of high-end branded apparel and gear with whom he had worked in the past and introducing new lines to our pro shop. He also redesigned the logo, coming up with a pared-down version that is more instantly recognizable when emblazoned in a discreet size on shirt, jacket, or cap.

The end result (or is it the beginning?) of Keith’s off-season efforts is a pro shop that is now filled with coveted brands of all things golf, most of which are adorned with the new logo.

Members and visitors will now find an array of Ping products and a complete line of Vineyard Vines. Also new to the shop are branded pieces from TravisMathew and Turtleson, as well as Full Turn, the private label company that has outfitted the Presidents Cup U.S. and international teams. New lines geared toward women golfers include IBKUL, Nivo, and Puma.

The pro shop itself has also had a bit of a facelift.

“I had to learn visual merchandising when I was working in a golf shop,” explained Keith. He has tapped into that experience, as well as how he sees merchandise displayed and sold at Augusta National, to adjust displays in our shop so that they are brighter and more inviting.

Keith sees club fittings as a natural extension of both golf club sales and teaching. This season will be our first of offering dedicated club fittings.

“It used to be you went to your golf pro to get fitted,” said Keith, and it is a practice he and course management are committed to resurrecting.

With Keith and Pat partnering as co-head PGA pros, and working in tandem with Jay and Colin and The Captains’ crew, our future looks brighter and brighter. And thanks to Keith’s efforts, that future may also be more fashionable.

by Jennifer Kain DeFoe

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Wednesday, July 17th, 2024

The Golf Courses are open, and carts are available.

18-hole carts are available up to the 3:00pm starting time.

9-hole golf carts are available up to the 5:00pm starting time.

Drinking water is available at filling stations by the clubhouse. 

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