At one time, Kyle Weeks was certain he was going to run a golf course some day.
Since playing golf at Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario, since enrolling in professional golf management programs with the University of Idaho and the PGA and then at Boise State, Weeks had a plan in place. He would become an assistant pro somewhere, work his way up to head pro, and eventually run his own facility.
Something happened along the way, however, something that threw a wrench into that plan.
And is Weeks ever happy about it.
“Until about halfway through 2014 or going into 2015, I was still sure I was going to be a head pro eventually and going that direction,” says the 30-year-old Boise native. “Maybe someday that will happen. I don’t think so. It’s just so nice. I’ve got the best office in town. I get to look over this green grass and help people learn to get better.”
His office is the old Bob Garza Learning Center at Lost Tracks Golf Club in south Bend. It is now known as Golf Performance Studio, a garage-looking structure on the east side of the driving range. One wall is rolled up, two mats pointing out toward the open, green range of Lost Tracks, a hazy blue sky hanging above a hot midsummer afternoon.
The kid who once aspired to be a head pro is now an instructor operating his own private business. It seems to be destiny, Weeks says, and he cannot explain how it came to be.
He left Idaho in early 2016 to become a first assistant pro at Bend Golf Club. At the time, the plan to run his own course was still in place. By his second year, though, Weeks was running the junior program at the private club. It was then, he reflects, that he “really found my new passion.
“I’d been around junior golf a lot,” he says. “The eye-opener was really realizing that I wanted to kind of do the player development stuff as a career and find a long-term road to help golfers either discover the game or learn the game or learn how to get better. Junior golf especially offered me that opportunity to help kids learn the game I learned when I was 3 or 4 years old.”
It was the junior programs — the development and instruction of players — that Weeks says became his reason for getting out of bed in the morning and looking forward to work each day. After all, that generation is the future of golf, integral to keeping alive the game he loves.
“That truly is the only thing that made this move possible was these kids coming in every week, six-kid classes, and they come in and they’re smiling and hitting balls and playing games,” Weeks says. “Seeing the smile on their faces and seeing them enjoy the game, it really pushed me back to what I remember when I went to junior classes when I was 8 or 9 or 10 years old and picking up a golf club.”
Weeks remembers being a junior player going through programs and instructors lining up players at the driving range. He recalls simply hitting balls for an hour and then heading home.
Now, though, Weeks knows instruction is moving in a different direction. And after leaving Bend Golf Club at the end of June, after opening Golf Performance Studio earlier this month, Weeks was ready to take that route.
“I’m trying to help my kids find more enjoyment,” he says, “by gamifying it a little bit more.”
Games like “fire escape,” which involves setting up “windows” of a house with pool noodles, instructing one team to hit through the windows to “set a fire” and another team to hit through the same windows to “put the fire out.” There are simulated tournaments with putting and chipping. The list of games goes on.
Weeks teaches juniors, but he has a junior elite program beginning next week, a class for players who are in high school or are preparing for college and want to take their games to the next level.
There are adult programs, as well, and training tools he brought from home (as well as televisions, furniture and decor). He bought FlightScope, a Doppler radar system that tracks, among other things, club data at impact, ball spin rate and carry.
The building he teaches out of, he uses essentially rent-free, though Weeks says that will be revisited next year. “I’m incredibly grateful for that,” he says. He envisions installing a putting green, maybe even two floor-to-ceiling nets for players to hit into during the winter months.
Weeks has all of this in place, as well as plans for the future. And all of it, essentially, was decided on the fly.
“I don’t want to say it fell into my lap,” Weeks says, unable to hold back a smile. “But … to say how it all came together, it was kind of all just perfect timing.”
Lost Tracks’ former director of instruction, Bob Garza, had made a trip to California during this past winter. During that time, Weeks says, Garza found another opportunity and stayed in the Golden State. Weeks says he knew Garza was considering a change of scenery, especially when the popular longtime instructor did not return to Bend by early spring.
“Bob and I were pretty good friends since I moved over to Bend,” Weeks says. “It was pretty fortunate timing. Bob kind of helped me make all this possible. He recommended to the ownership here that they at least look at me as a new full-time instructor or a director of instruction, whatever you choose to call it. He understood my vision of growing the game and passed that message along. It kind of made all this possible.”
He says the course was in search of someone to teach full time. Weeks, however, wanted to run his own business. In a way, that was a perfect match.
“They viewed it as a benefit,” Weeks says, “to have more people out here learning the game that would, in turn, want to come use their facility, whether that be to play golf or use the driving range or have lunch.”
The plan was to become a head pro. It was for Weeks to run his own course. Plans change, however. And Weeks is certainly grateful they did.
“It’s close to a hundred percent; I just didn’t know it,” Weeks says of finding his true calling. “I was so set in the mindset that a golf pro has to be this guy who shows up at 6 a.m. and leaves at 6 p.m. and runs tournaments and maybe does a few lessons on the side, I kind of lost sight of, maybe, the reason why I got into golf in the first place. And it’s because I love the game. And this avenue allows me to share that with everybody.”