Neil Day has worked at various country clubs around the state of Arkansas since moving to the state in 2002.
It didn’t take the North Carolina native long to hear about the rich tradition of Pine Bluff Country Club.
“I’ve known about it since I’ve been in Arkansas,” Day said Friday. “Arkansas isn’t a big market, but there is a fraternity among the PGA professionals in the state. … Through that I was introduced to the course in 2004.
“The last time I was here was in 2008, until last week.”
The reason Day, 38, was back at PBCC last week was to start his new job as the course’s PGA head professional.
“The rich tradition and history of this course was the immediate draw,” Day said. “This is a place I hope to plant my feet professionally. I have high hopes of it being a long-term relationship.
“The club just celebrated its centennial and we’ll have our 50th four-ball tournament in August. Those numbers speak for themselves about the tradition of this course.
“I’m excited to have the opportunity to be a part of it.”
Day said he has one major goal, albeit a large, overarching one, he hopes to accomplish at PBCC.
“My goal as Pine Bluff Country Club’s PGA professional is to strengthen and implement our programming to benefit all levels and all genders,” he said. “We want to make sure our open-instruction program caters to the true beginners and scratch golfers. For our junior program, we hope it caters to summer vacation as well as high school programs in the community.
“It’s very important for me that we take the opportunity for fine, young talents to be strengthened through Pine Bluff Country Club.”
The importance of the youth program was something Day emphasized on Friday.
“Word-of-mouth travels quickly between young men and women,” he said. “… One kid comes out and enjoys it, so they tell a friend and so on.
“Word-of-mouth is the best way, if you’re looking for new golfers. It’s garnered to create excitement to be a part of the game.”
Day also said he hopes to increase participation among females, and said he believes flexibility is the key. He pointed to 11-year-old Lucy Li playing this weekend in the U.S. Women’s Open.
“My parents were there (Thursday) and saw her,” Day said of Li. “They said she was wearing a red, white and blue outfit and pigtails. After her round, she was out there eating ice cream and doing her interviews. She was asked what she was going to do the rest of the day and she said eat more ice cream.
“That’s a true testament to how this game can be fun.”
Earlier this week, PBCC hosted a “Ladies Night Out.” Day said he was pleased by the event and hopes to have it become a weekly thing, but right now the program is “as the calendar allows.”
“Golf has this stigma of being strict,” he said. “And, yes, golf can be strict, but it can also be laid back. It can be as strict or as laid back as you want. It’s really what you make of it.
“We want to build a program for our ladies that can be as casual or formal as they want to be.”
Since starting at PBCC, Day said he’s had just the one chance to play the course, but said he looks forward to getting out there more once he’s settled into his new job.
“I went out there with four members and our general manager,” he said. “It was my first time playing it since ’08. … But I still remember the holes. That’s how you know it’s a good course.
“That’s how you know it’s a championship golf course.”