Mayor Bob Courtney announced Friday the hiring of Madison native Roger D. Gallatin as the city’s new PGA golf professional at Sunrise Golf Course.
Gallatin, the current head pro at Hickory Sticks Golf Club in northern Kentucky, is a 1987 graduate of Madison Consolidated High School and the son of former MCHS principal and coach Roger D. Gallatin.
“Sunrise Golf Course is a tremendous community asset which not only contributes to the local quality of life but will now become a benefit to the entire parks system,” said Courtney. “Our vision is to bring more local and regional events and tournaments to Madison and make the course a Midwest destination. Roger is the right person for this job. He is a native Madisonian and will bring organization, enthusiasm, and effective communication and marketing expertise to the course.”
Gallatin has more than 35 years experience in the golf industry and has served as head PGA professional at Hickory Sticks in California, Kentucky, since 2013. He’s also held jobs as a manufacturers’ representative for Mizuno and Bridgestone among others and in equipment marketing. He’s taught golf, organized leagues, tournaments and outings and managed youth programs along the way while traveling across the country hoping to get an opportunity to come home to the place it all started.
“Being named the golf professional at Sunrise Golf Course is an opportunity of a lifetime,” said Gallatin, whose father died in 2019 but his mother, a sister and several family members all reside in Madison. “I have committed my life to the game of golf, and I now can apply all the experiences I have accumulated over 35 years at the course where my journey began. This is nothing short of a dream come true. It is a true privilege to be chosen to lead Sunrise into this exciting new future.”
Gallatin, a golfer for the Cubs in high school, loved the game enough that he wanted to make it a career so he headed off to Starkville, Mississippi, for college and enrolled in what was then one of the first golf course management programs in the country at Mississippi State University. He did not play collegiate golf for MSU, instead focusing on the business side of golf and obtaining a degree in business administration-professional golf management.
Gallatin became a PGA Professional in the 1990s and over the years has worked in the industry in various capacities — mainly in the Kentucky and Indiana region — along with some travel nationwide. He served internships out of college in Memphis and Indianapolis and as a professional in Noblesville and at his current course.
Along the way, he’s always held an interest in returning home to Madison — the community and the course where it all started — but the right opportunity never presented itself until now.
“I’ve always kept an eye on Madison and hoped I’d be able to work something out,” Gallatin said. “At this point in my career, I’m more into the management side of the business and that’s what Sunrise needs.”
Gallatin noted that Sunrise is “family golf at its best” in that the city has a quality municipal course open to everyone. However, he said it’s also a course that could use some improvement.
“The course is very nice but it needs some work,” Gallatin said, noting he will consult with the course superintendent at Sunrise just like he has at Hickory Sticks to “improve course conditions” and bring the facility up to another level.
Gallatin also said the course needs a higher profile online to promote the facility and bring in cash-paying customers and tourists to enjoy one of the better municipal courses and towns around and provide the injection of capital needed to make the facility even better.
“The biggest avenue I see is the online presence,” Gallatin said. “It doesn’t have much online presence so there’s an opportunity there to expand that and expand our customer base.”
With experience in maintaining and operating budgets of over $1 million, increasing profit margins, and developing marketing strategies Gallatin is eager for that task. Gallatin has done all that before at Hickory Sticks, a course that opened in 1998, was struggling a few years ago but has bounced back in a big way the past couple of years.
“The golf industry is booming — and it’s from east to west — after being in decline a few years ago,” Gallatin said, noting his job is to make sure that boom also comes to Madison. “The bulk of that has come in the public golf sector at places like Sunrise. We had 27,000 rounds at Hickory Sticks last year and that’s what we want at Sunrise.”
In addition to a new golf professional, golfers can expect to see expanded services at Sunrise Golf Course. Over the next few weeks, the city will update the clubhouse, implement new marketing strategies, and reopen the grill with an expanded menu. Alcohol will also be available for purchase in the clubhouse or out on the course and the newly branded Sunrise Café will be open to the public.
Gallatin will begin his new job Sunday, June 20.