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December 25, 2014

Cider Ridge golf head on Sunny King: ‘It’s been great’

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Posted: Saturday, July 12, 2014 8:23 pm | Updated: 8:44 pm, Sat Jul 12, 2014.

OXFORD — It would seem a tall order for Cider Ridge’s new director of golf to prepare for the Sunny King Charity Classic in just three weeks on the job, but Doug Wert and his course have gotten up and down just fine this weekend.

What’s a 400-man tournament to a man who has managed 800-man events?

The 47-year-old Wert brings impressive credentials to his new job, so it’s no shock that he and Cider Ridge were ready for their quick-arriving chance to shine together in the area’s signature annual golf event. It’s also been no sweat.

“It’s been great,” he said Saturday, the tourney’s second day and the day for the Championship-Ford Mustang Flight players to hit Cider Ridge. “It’s been really great, amazing.

“Big events like this, I’m used to it, so it’s been great.”

Wert grew up in The Woodlands, Texas, north of Houston and played high school golf with future PGA Tour pro Jeff Maggert.

“We played, and then we watched Jeff play,” he joked.

Wert was one of the first 13 students in Mississippi State’s Professional Golf Management program and graduated in 1989. He gave up chasing a playing career after a year on the Hogan Tour, and he has been chasing golf management since.

He went to work for the PGA in the TPC network, first as an assistant at TPC Eagle Trace (Coral Springs, Fla.) then TPC Sawgrass (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.). He became head pro at TPC Southwind (Memphis, Tenn.), which hosts the PGA’s annual FedEx St. Jude Classic.

He spent six years as general manager of Penn State University’s 36-hole facility, which hosted an 800-player, three-day event once a year.

“We had two courses there, so we had double shotguns (starts) both morning and afternoon,” Wert said.

In 2003, Wert became director of the University of Colorado’s upstart PGM program.

He built the program over five years and got it accredited with the PGA of America then he went into consulting with his own company, Golf Management Systems.

He then became head pro at Oak Creek Country Club in Sedona, Ariz., but said he “was kind of missing the green-grass aspect of things” back in the South.

A career consultant in the area contacted him about management openings with Honours Golf LLC, which has offices in Birmingham and Atlanta and owns Cider Ridge.

Wert had met Honours CEO Bob Barrett six years before getting the call.

“I had always wanted to get in with Honours,” Wert said. “I’m very excited to be in with the company and to be back in the South. We’re really excited about it.”

Wert set a Guiness Book world record in 1993 by playing 440 holes in 12 hours at Eagle Trace, raising $70,000 for charity. That’s nine holes every 13 minutes.

He said job number one at Cider Ridge is promotion.

“It is such a great golf course, and it’s in such great condition,” Wert said. “(Course superintendent) Chad Robinson and his team have just really done a great job with this golf course, and I want to make sure we get word out.

“I’d like to see more people playing here. It’s got so much potential.”

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