GOSHEN — Justin Stevens has been waiting a long time for the opportunity to become the head golf pro at a country club.
The eight-year assistant at Long Beach Country Club in Michigan City has been given his chance by Maplecrest Country Club.
Maplecrest recently hired Stevens, who has been a PGA professional since 2017. This will be his first time as the head pro.
“Coming here is pretty remarkable. I’m very excited about the opportunity,” Stevens said. “It’s something I have been waiting for a long time. This is a chance to showcase what I can do. The goal is to bring a level of enjoyment to the members.”
A couple of things about Stevens impressed Maplecrest Country Club President Carlene Miller.
“I’m excited about his youth and his talent,” Miller said. “His application was very impressive. He had five or six letters of recommendation.”
“We didn’t do a ton of interviews, but Justin’s was easily one of the best,” said Kevin Graber, who was the Search Committee Chairman. “His resume was very impressive. I was impressed with how he handled himself in the interview. He was very professional, but also showed he had a sense of humor. I think he will fit right in here at Maplecrest.
“Justin’s boss at Long Beach (Brian Godfrey) had a lot of good things to say about him. That, and the fact Justin was ready to move his family to Goshen were factors. He doesn’t just want to live in the Goshen area. He wants to be part of the community.”
Stevens was quick to praise his former boss.
“Brian is my mentor and without his help I would not be where I am,” Stevens said. “The same can be said of my parents, Craig and Joanne Stevens.”
Stevens shared he has a Goshen area connection.
“I have a good friend that lives in the area so I had heard of Maplecrest, but had never played the course before,” he said.
According to Miller, the culture of private country clubs has changed.
“Maplecrest is a really close club that has a diverse social and economic membership,” she said. “We are doing well with our season members, but what we need to do is bring in some younger ones. We need some who can pull in the under-35 crowd. That is why I’m so excited about Justin coming in.”
Not everything will change at Maplecrest with the new pro.
“Justin is very respectful of programs that work. We have a very successful men’s league and men’s invitational,” Miller said.
Miller, who is the first female president in club history, is excited about the new pro for another reason.
“Justin did a lot of work with the ladies’ programs at his last job. I’m looking forward to that. The programs for the ladies have been lacking here for the last few years,” Miller said. “Justin is interested in developing a place where women can feel comfortable playing golf with other women or with their husbands.”
Graber feels fortunate to have been able to hire Stevens.
“This is late in the season to have been looking for a pro,” he said. “We were lucky to find a person with his qualifications this late in the season.”
Stevens was born in Medaryville, Indiana, and graduated from West Central High School.
He explained how an encounter with a golf pro at Mystic Hills sparked his interest in becoming a PGA Pro.
“The pro was working with me and I finally understood what he wanted me to do. I saw how excited he was that I finally understood and I decided then I wanted that feeling,” Stevens said. “That was one of the biggest factors in my becoming a pro.”
Stevens is joining the Maplecrest staff during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s tricky. We are open for play, but only members, no guests are allowed,” he said. “We are following all the guidelines of the Indiana Golf Association. Employees are wearing gloves all the time and we are allowing only one person per cart.
“I’m the new guy and want to be shaking hands. I knew making the change was going to involve transition, but didn’t know the pandemic was going to on top of that.”
Justin and his wife, Maggie, have a 16-month old daughter, Annabelle.