By John DeCoste
It’s always fulfilling to be recognized by your peers for what do you, and Rene MacKay is admittedly “humbled” to have been chosen Golf Professional of the Year by the Atlantic Division of the CPGA.
MacKay, director of golf at the Ken-Wo Golf Club in New Minas, found out in mid-November he had been recognized with the regional award. While very pleased with the recognition, he was quick to share the credit.
“Something like this doesn’t happen alone,” he said. “Having the opportunity to work at such a great facility, with such a great staff and membership, and with such great support for what I do, is what makes it work.”
MacKay, an Antigonish native and a St. F.X. graduate, turned professional in 1996 after enjoying success at the amateur level of the sport.
He has been director of golf at Ken-Wo since February 2009. Before that, he spent nine years (1998-2006) on the Ken-Wo staff before assuming the position of director of golf at the Truro Golf Club for the better part of two years.
“To me, this award is not just for the past year, but for the past five years,” since he reached his current level. “I’m being told what I’ve done here at Ken-Wo the past four years has meant something, and that’s pretty special.”
Since returning to Ken-Wo, MacKay has made a number of subtle changes aimed at making the club the best it can possibly be.
“My goal now is to make sure those around me can share in that success,” he said.
He considers himself “very lucky” that he is able to do what he loves for a living, and to be able to do so in such a great and supportive place.
“They say if you can do something you really enjoy, your chances of success are that much greater. That’s been the case for me.”
In addition to his responsibilities at the club, MacKay currently sits on the CPGA Atlantic board and serves as chairman of the association’s Education Committee.
The extent to which he is respected by his peers is reflected in the fact that this was the third time he had been nominated for the CPGA Atlantic award.
As winner of the regional award, MacKay’s name now goes forward for consideration for the national award.
“There are lots of deserving people out there. To be considered in that company is certainly an honour,” he said.
While he stressed, “it’s nice to win, and I take a lot of pride in it,” MacKay “considers this to be a club award.”
The criteria for the award include excellence in leadership and inspiring others.
“I feel I do a good job at those things, but at the same time, you also have to have people who want to be inspired,” he said.
Being a golf pro was a longtime dream for MacKay.
“I wanted to be a golf pro since I was a small boy. It’s been a lifelong passion for me.”
He has achieved success in his chosen profession, but admits, “you can’t hope to do something like this without a great deal of support.”
Along with the club staff and membership, he credited some excellent mentors along the way, and a tremendously supportive wife, for helping make it happen.
Of the things that have happened at Ken-Wo during his time at the club, MacKay is arguably proudest of the success of the junior program,
More than anything else, he says, “it’s important to me that the juniors that have gone through our program have gone on to become such successful people.
“Our role, as leaders, is to promote the game” and serve as mentors to subsequent generations.
“I was fortunate enough to have had great role models along the way. It’s important that we serve as role models to those who follow us.”
At present, MacKay and his assistants are working on starting a brand new junior program for golfers as young as five to seven years old.
His rationale is that youngsters are starting other sports that young, and they should be able to start to learn golf, too, if they want.
“I feel the biggest thing I bring to my job is the passion I’ve always had for the game and for the club. I really enjoy what I do, and I’m excited to go to work each day and see what happens.”