The Olympia Country and Golf Club (OC&GC) offers stunning views of Mount Rainier, exceptional dining opportunities, a 12-foot-deep swimming pool, and 18 championship holes of golf. In addition to all of this, the facility has also crafted a dynamite team of golf professionals that are on-hand to assist beginners and experts in perfecting their swing.
Set in the heart of Olympia, overlooking Budd Inlet, OC&GC has continued the excellence of golf tradition since 1926. Today, the OC&GC currently has three PGA Class A Professionals.
Mike Campbell is the PGA General Manager who, in 2010, was honored by the Business Examiner as one of the “Top 40 under 40” – an honor handed out yearly to 40 business people in the south sound that are excelling under the age of 40-years-old. Additionally, Mark Jensen, PGA Head Golf Professional, and Rick Denholm, PGA 1st Assistant Golf Professional, are a part of the talented crew at OC&GC.
Mark has been a PGA member since 1989 and has been teaching sporadically since 1991. Born and raised in New York, Mark traveled around the country learning and honing his skills before receiving a job transfer to Washington. At the time, he was working for a golf club company as a sales representative. With a desire to transition from sales, a position that he held for 12 years, back into his true love of working as a golf professional, Mark began working at OC&GC in 2005 where he would later be able to move back into teaching.
Rick began his golf career at Oaksridge Golf Course in Elma in the early 1990s. He worked at a handful of other courses around Western Washington, one of those being Salish Cliffs Golf Club where he became close friends with Mark. In early 2019, Rick had a longing to move back into a golf course work setting. Simultaneously, a position became available at OC&GC, and without hesitation Mark picked up the phone and had his old friend come in for an interview. Today, Mark and Rick are working alongside one another creating the talented team of golf professionals that make OC&GC a top destination for golfers in the south sound.
“What we currently have at OC&GC is a very rare situation,” explains Mark. “We are incredibly fortunate to have Rick on board with us today as two golf pros don’t normally have the opportunity to work together in the same shop. Normally, the 1st assistant golf professional is just beginning their apprenticeship. We are very fortunate to have him and his remarkable experience.” Mark goes on to explain how Rick has an incredible ability to anticipate the needs of the membership and brings another level of professionalism to his position. Not only does Mark feel fortunate, but so do the many members and players who are able to reap the benefits of having two golf professionals at OC&GC each with over 30 years of experience.
When an individual or group comes in to OC&GC for a class, they can be assured that they are in good hands with Mark and Rick. “Whether someone knows nothing about golf or are coming in having played for years,” expresses Mark, “my philosophy is always the same: help them enjoy the game. The nice things about teaching is that the golf ball doesn’t lie and provides instant feedback. There’s nothing better than seeing the look on a student’s face when they know they hit the ball just right.”
As for Rick, he agrees that helping those coming in for lessons is all about teaching them love of the game and avoid feeling defeated when something doesn’t go right.
Once a student has learned to love the game, they can learn to master it. Two of Mark’s former students who began lessons with him at OC&GC at just six-years-old are now playing college golf. “To see young kids that I taught through high school go on to receive a scholarship to play college golf is the ultimate satisfaction,” Mark shares.
“I also personally taught a student named Justin Cox back when I worked at Highland Golf Course,” states Rick. “He now plays college golf in Idaho. It’s an incredibly rewarding experience to see a student go on to succeed like that.”
Not only do Mark and Rick each have many years of experience, but they are both passionate about teaching outside of OC&GC. Mark manages the Saint Martin’s University golf team while Rick travels to Montesano to coach both girls and boys soccer and is a referee for basketball in the winter.
As for the general manager, Mike, Mark and Rick commend his many years of dedication that he’s put in to bring OC&GC to the level that it’s at today. “I truly believe that he has been the biggest reason this club has improved over the last five years,” states Mark. “We also have a wonderful superintendent, Matt Patton, who has gotten the golf course in great shape. Heather Wilson, our food and beverage manager, is exceptional as well. We’re all a team here and play an important role.”
Mark and Rick are available to coach individual and small group lessons. It’s not required to be a member of OC&GC to take a lesson, which opens the doors for anyone looking to learn the sport to come in and learn from the best. They also teach a fantastic junior summer program that competes with neighboring teams. Additionally, the golf professionals manage the PGA junior league. “There are currently four other courses, plus OC&GC in the area that we travel to and host at for these programs,” states Rick. “Hopefully next year we’ll be adding in another team to bring in even more friendly competition for these kids.”
Olympia Country & Golf Club
3636 Country Club Drive NW, Olympia