For Briar Leaf Golf Club GM and Golf Pro, Jay Williams, golf has always played a big part of his and his family’s life. From growing up loving the game in Springfield, Missouri, to cutting his teeth at courses in the Chicagoland area, and finally setting down roots in La Porte County with Briar Leaf Golf Club, Williams has always sought to share his love for the game with the people and communities with which he’s closest.
“All of my family played golf so I, kind of, came into playing golf naturally,” Williams said recently. “Of course, I played other sports but I ultimately wanted to focus on golf.”
Williams played throughout high school and into his collegiate career at, what is now, Missouri State University. From there, he got into the business side of things in Springfield where he became an assistant professional, and worked his way through the PGA certifications to become a member of the organization.
“Ultimately, I wanted to expand my horizons so I moved to the Chicagoland area where there were a ton more golf courses,” he said. “I worked at Olympia Fields Golf Club in the south suburbs and, through my associations there, I became the head golf professional at Lincolnshire Country Club in Illinois.”
Williams spent six seasons at Lincolnshire before beginning to consider what his next step in the golfing world, and life in general, might be.
“I was thinking, ‘What’s the next step?’” Williams described. “And, to me, the next step was being a partner or owning your own golf course, and running your entire operation. Turns out that two of the members at Lincolnshire mentioned something to me, I mentioned something to them, and, long story short, we ended up coming over here (La Porte) in 1995 to purchase Briar Leaf Golf Club.”
Williams, and business partner John Leinweber who has a farm in La Porte County, have now been business partners for 22 years and have built a great, family-centered business and personal relationship.
“John lived out here part-time, at the time, and we didn’t really know people when we came to town,” said Williams. “We began to staff Briar Leaf from within with the few people we knew and, all the sudden with my children and John’s grandchildren, our families got old enough to work here.”
“In the 22 years, both of my sons have worked here, John’s daughter is our business manager, and three of John’s grandchildren work here,” he said. “The people who have been associated with his farm have worked here, and in fact, our greens keeper was a general laborer on John’s farm before becoming our greens keeper for the past 17 or 18 years.”
While Williams and his partners originally set out to create a great place to play golf, at the same time, it’s really become a family business.
“We’re all very close and we spend some time together away from the club. A lot of us have been here for a long time so it’s been a really great scenario. All of our connections are much deeper than simply showing up to work at the same time. We’ve got these long-standing relationships, it works, and it’s really great!”
To find out more about Briar Leaf Golf Club, and how you can become a member, go to: http://briarleaf.com/