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TEE TALK: Centennial gets makeover with new GM, pro

It’s reasonable to assume a TV or two in the clubhouse at Centennial Golf Club was tuned to the College World Series.

Brian Sackett, the new general manager and director of golf, is a diehard Beaver believer, having played baseball at the university in the late 1980s, and he reveled in OSU’s success as it won the national championship this week.

That’s right, baseball, not golf.

“I caught and my twin brother (Brent) pitched,” said Sackett.

They played for coach Jack Riley, against Stanford teams that won back-to-back national championships and against Washington State star John Olerud.

“We couldn’t beat the Cougars,” Sackett lamented.

Sackett was a so-so catcher at that level, he said, his brother a talented pitcher.

“I was a bullpen All-American,” said Sackett. “You know what I mean. I played a little, but not much.”

Now, he has an entirely different task: directing the show at Centennial and its sister course, Quail Point.

Changes came quickly in the past half-year at Centennial. It’s been a shake-up and, on a couple fronts, a homecoming.

Sackett, 50, who was hired in December to replace Vince Domenzain, hails from Grants Pass and had been out of the Rogue Valley for nearly 20 years.

Several months after taking over, Sackett brought back Chris Daggitt to be his head golf professional. Daggitt, a former assistant at Centennial, had worked at Eagle Point Golf Club the previous 3½ years.

The makeover was initiated when course owner Pacific Retirement Services discontinued the management contract it had with OB Sports, of Scottsdale, Arizona. PRS wanted control of both courses and to eliminate the management fee, said Sackett. The move coincided with the approval in May to expand Medford’s urban growth boundary, opening the door for extensive housing around Centennial.

Domenzain, an employee of OB Sports who had been with Centennial since its opening in May 2006, lost his job in the process.

For his part, Sackett is happy to be back in Southern Oregon, closer to his parents and brother and at a facility with much upside.

“You know, the sky’s the limit here,” he said. “We are in a great population base, we’ve got a great product.”

Sackett “tripped and fell into the golf business after college,” he said.

In high school, he had been a part of the North Valley teams in 1984-85 that claimed the triple crown, winning state titles in football, basketball and baseball in the same school year.

After his Oregon State days, he took his first job at Lake Shastina Golf Resort in Weed, California, in the summer of 1990.

A year later, he began a five-year stint at Grants Pass Golf Club, earning his PGA credential along the way. When Eagle Point Golf Club opened in 1996, Sackett became its first pro.

“We were in a manufactured home,” he recalled of the pro shop. “It still looked great on the inside, but it was a manufactured home.”

In 1999, he was hired as the head pro at Roseburg Country Club. As the club’s highest-paid and most-tenured employee, he was let go 10 years later and landed at nearby Myrtle Creek Golf Course (now Cougar Canyon Golf Course).

Roseburg went through three head pros in the next 5½ years, said Sackett, before he was rehired. His second stay lasted a couple years until the Centennial opportunity arose.

“Roseburg will always be a huge soft spot for me,” he said.

When Sackett got to Centennial, Anthony Ulloa — who had been in Sackett’s junior program in Grants Pass in the ’90s — was the tournament director.

Ulloa took a position as membership and marketing director at Rogue Valley Country Club, making way for Daggitt to return.

Daggitt worked at Centennial for more than seven years before moving over to Eagle Point. Bringing him back to the fold, said Sackett, “was a no-brainer.”

“Chris is really good at what he does,” said Sackett. “He had a history here, and when he left, he took a considerable amount of business with him to Eagle Point.”

In the process of reclaiming Daggitt, a major selling point was comparing tournament revenue the last year he was at Centennial to the ensuing years, said Sackett.

“Chris is really good at, and I call it, putting butts in seats on golf tournament days,” he said.

An increase in year-to-date revenue indicates it was a good move.

Daggitt wasn’t necessarily looking to return.

“It was a good move out to Eagle Point for me,” he said. “I enjoyed it. But with Brian and the management change, it just worked out. Kind of, the stars aligned.”

Change occurred, too, at Quail Point, where Roger Hults is the pro shop attendant.

The team Sackett inherited at Centennial is top-notch, he said, including course superintendent Matt Grove and food and beverage manager Alex Jacobberger.

Grove was recently honored as superintendent of the year by the Oregon Golf Course Superintendents Association.

“That is the honor of a lifetime,” said Sackett, “and for someone this far south to get honored who is not politically involved with the organization … he got that award based on the merits of the job he does. It’s huge.”

Sackett brought a common-sense philosophy to his job.

“It’s all about customer service,” he said. “Customer service has to be the backbone, really, of any business, and for me, customer service is huge. We’ve got to grow the business, without a doubt, and the great thing is, Medford has such a great demographic, that growing the business is absolutely possible.”

Have a local golf story idea? Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479 or ttrower@rosebudmedia.com.

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