Atlanta Athletic Club will host its third PGA Championship in three weeks, and PGA Master Professional Rick Anderson has not missed one while serving a facility that has evolved to challenge the world's premier playing professionals.
Anderson's professional golf career and his pathway to Atlanta Athletic Club was a circuitous route. Born in Florence, Ala., Anderson was 2 years old when his family moved to Maryville, Tenn. He excelled in five sports - awarded high school letters in football, baseball, basketball, track and golf. He attended East Tennessee State University for one year, and spent two quarters at the University of Tennessee before turning professional.
"We all think that we can play, and some of us go on to excel," said Anderson. "I found out early that my golf skills would not allow me to compete at the level that Tour players do. My second love was teaching and that excited me about staying in the game."
Anderson stepped into professional golf in 1975 at Nine Eagles Golf Club in Tampa, Fla. After two years, he became an assistant professional at Capital City Club in Atlanta, where he spent four seasons, and in 1979 was elected to PGA of America membership.
At age 24, Anderson arrived at Atlanta Athletic Club in 1981 as an assistant professional prior to the club hosting its first PGA Championship. By the fall of 1984, Anderson was pursuing a head professional position and was hired by Holly Tree Country Club in Simpsonville, S.C. One year later, Anderson was hired as head professional at Grandfather Golf and Country Club in Linville, N.C., where he spent the next three years.
In 1988, the head professional position opened at Atlanta Athletic Club, and Anderson wanted to make his return to a club that had become a special home to PGA Professionals. "I respected a club that been home to two PGA Presidents – George and Harold Sargent, and Harold's brother, Jack – all members of the Georgia PGA Hall of Fame. From 1987-88, Anderson wintered at Boca Pointe Country Club in Boca Raton, Fla., as PGA director of golf.
"I felt that I had the credibility to be a candidate," says Anderson, who was hired as PGA director of golf in March 1989. "If you leave every place where you work with the feeling that you made it a bit better and didn't burn any bridges, it always leaves the door open at a later date. And this is what happened to me as I was able to get my dream job at any early age.
"We have a wonderful partnership here between our members and staff working with The PGA of America to host a major championship," says Anderson, who guided AAC's staff in hosting the 2001 PGA Championship and the 2002 U.S. Junior Amateur Championship. "Our golf courses (Highlands and Riverside) have adapted to the changes in the game, including installing turf grasses that thrive in the heat. This is a fantastic venue to have a major championship. Of course, I'm prejudiced. However, with a supportive membership, Board and staff, I can honestly say that no one does it better than the AAC."
Since 2007, Anderson has served since as a member of the PGA Rules Committee, and since 2009 on the PGA Tournament Committee.
Birthplace: Florence, Ala.
Birth Date: March 10, 1955
Hometown: Norcross, Ga.
Turned Professional: 1975
PGA Membership: 1979
PGA Master Professional: 1991
PGA Quarter Century Member: 2004
Personal: Wife, Reneé; Children: Daughters Ashley and Kate, and son, Rick