Carrying on A Family Golf Legacy: The Baldassari’s
By Brendon Elliott, PGA
Bob Baldassari speaks with attendees during Beyond the Green at the 99th PGA Championship held at Quail Hollow Club.PGA of America
Like many in the golf industry, I have the distinct honor of calling Bob Baldassari a friend. Anyone who has had the pleasure of meeting him knows what I mean when I say he's a Pro’s Pro. He is a polished PGA Professional and that I consider the prototype of what it means to be one. However, he is also very forward thinking, and at times, an outside the box thinker, always trying to improve the image of the PGA member and the game itself.
Golf runs deep in the Baldassari family. Bob’s father, Robert Baldassari, Sr., was a 53-year member of the PGA. Bob shared with me the early history of his dad’s journey as a PGA Professional.
“Dad started working in the game as a young kid. He left Boston and traveled up to Maplewood Golf Resort in Bethlehem, NH where he worked for a couple of summers before the head pro at Maplewood brought my dad down to Kenilworth Lodge in Sebring, FLA in the mid 1950's to be the caddie master at 18 years old."
"Eventually he worked his way up to being head professional at Kenilworth. At the same time, he was also the head professional at Hillview Country Club in North Reading, Mass. My Dad was one of the very first PGA Professionals in the country to have two jobs, one up north in the summer and one in the south in the winter."
As his dad did double duty, it meant a lot of travel and adventure for the younger Bob, who enjoyed being along for the ride.
"Growing up with involved a lot of driving down to Florida every early November and going to school there, then in late March we'd drive back to Massachusetts and finish out the school year. I thought we had the absolute best childhood with the people we met and the places we traveled.”
When Bob was very young, he realized that all the members at the club looked up to his dad, not only because of his golf/teaching ability, but also because of the way he treated everyone. Bob Sr. remembered names family members, important dates, he celebrated with them at weddings and shared heartbreak when someone died.
“He was an incredible friend to all he met. I saw him help others in times of need when he was also going through tough times."
During Bob's eulogy at his father's funeral he summarized it best: "Very few people in life really understand and live out their 'Why' as my dad did,. It was all about a club, a white ball, and some green grass that changed his life, and he in turn had a profound positive effect on thousands of people's lives.”
Bob knew pretty early in life that following in his father’s footsteps was pretty much a given.
“I've been intimately immersed in the game and business of golf my entire life. I didn't like some things I saw and my Dad said to me: 'Don't talk about it, do something about it.' I thought I could help change things on a national level and I wasn't afraid to try anything.”
Bob started working as a 14-year-old for his dad on the weekends at Hillview CC, where he stayed until he entered the PGA Apprentice program in late 1987. Between 1988 and 1990 he worked as first assistant professional at clubs across the country. He officially became a PGA Member in 1991 and started his first head professional job on May 22, 1992, at River Run Golf Club in Ocean City, MD.
Since then he held the position of General Manager at Cannon Ridge Golf Club with Deane Beman, the former PGA Tour Commissioner, and Gary Schaal, Past PGA of America President. He also served as General Manager of PGA Golf Club and PGA Properties.
In the fall of 2011, he was enlisted by the PGA of America to serve as Director of Youth Golf Development, which including the creation and development of PGA Jr League, Drive, Chip & Putt, PGA Junior Golf Camps, Boys & Girls Clubs golf program, and the PGA Player Development Workshops.
Now, Bob is now the CEO and Founder of Reimagine Golf and the Director of Golf at the Trident Golf Performance and Lifestyle Center in Port St. Lucie, FL.
But Bob is not the only Baldassari with an impressive resume in the golf industry Both of his sisters have also made their mark. His older sister Theresa has been the golf shop manager for nearly 20 years at Old Marsh GC in Palm Beach Gardens.
There is also a next generation of Baldassari’s starting their own journeys in golf. Bob's daughter Olivia is the Digital Marketing Manager for Golf Coast Magazine and his son Robert worked at PGA Golf Club for five years and has since served as the assistant professional at Columbia Country Club as well as at Trident Golf Performance Center.
So, is golf the ultimate family sport? Bob and his family may be living proof of it.
“Golf is absolutely the best family sport, as it crosses multiple generations and acts as a way to unite and bond families. Where else could a 95-year-old grandfather (or great grandfather) play with their 8-year-old grandkid (or great grandkid). I've said for many years that for a lot of families, the golf course is like the dinner table to have families spend time together. And the irons and woods replace forks and knives.”