Director of Golf
Golf Club at Ballantyne Hotel and Lodge
By Bill F. Hensley
CHARLOTTE, NC...Woody Allen is the Director of Golf at the Golf Club at Ballantyne Hotel and Lodge. On most days he looks the part, wearing a golf shirt with a Ballantyne logo and a freshly pressed pair of slacks. He’s tall, lean, has an athletic build and can often be seen sneaking in a practice swing with an imaginary club.
But he is also accustomed to wearing business suits, carrying a brief case and attending meetings in stately corporate boardrooms.
He’s a pro of the future whose many skills include sales, marketing and finance as well as the ability to operate a golf shop, give lessons, conduct clinics and play well. He spends equal time on the course and on the road where he promotes his business to corporate clients. Wearing several different hats has become routine
A native of Radford, Va., Allen will tell you quickly that the golf industry has changed since he first became involved more than a decade ago. “A golf professional today must be versatile in several fields,” he said. “Actually, we promote more than we play, and we sell more than we teach.”
At the Golf Club at Ballantyne Hotel and Lodge, Allen oversees a major operation that emphasizes corporate golf outings and clinics. He also works closely with the Dana Rader Golf School at Ballantyne to offer specialized instruction to the masses. “This way we cover all phases of the game,” he explained, “and offer the public an attractive and comprehensive golf package.”
Allen, 36, joined the Ballantyne staff as an assistant golf professional when the course opened in 1998. During his 12-year career at the resort, he has risen through the ranks to his present position, thanks, in part, to his unusual talents as an administrator and promoter.
Since it opened, the Ballantyne course has steadily increased its annual revenue even in the face of difficult economic conditions. Along the way, the course has achieved lofty ratings from several national publications, including Golf Digest, which gave the scenic layout 4 ½ out of five stars.
The popular pro is proud of what has been accomplished at Ballantyne. “We have a beautifully maintained, modern course which is scenic, challenging and fun to play,” he said. “Our golf schools continue to grow, corporate outings are on the rise and daily play is strong.”
Last year, the Ballantyne course hosted nearly 250 outings, sometimes doing two or more a day, and this year’s schedule will top that. “Even in tough economic times, golf outings have proved to be an effective marketing or morale-building tool,” Allen pointed out.
In 2009, he oversaw a major renovation that saw the course change its greens from bent grass to to Champion ultra dwarf. “The new greens are popular with our players,” Allen remarked, “and are easier to maintain. We are delighted with the change.”
The Ballantyne course consistently ranks with the nation’s top resorts according to ratings by Golfworld and Golf Digest magazine, both of which have placed the course in the top 50 nationally.
Meanwhile, Allen’s leadership is being recognized throughout the industry.. He was elected to the PGA area VI board and the North Carolina Golf Panel, teaches golf management at Queens University, led the United Way campaign for the Bissell Companies, and serves on the Leadership Council as well as the Executive Committee for the Ballantyne Hotel and Lodge.
But he still finds time for a variety of hobbies that include hunting, fishing, camping and reading. Allen and his wife, the former Cameron Harris of Charlotte, have two children, Woody, 11, and Galen, 9.
A graduate of Mississippi State with a degree in Professional Golf Management, Allen has thrived as a diversified golf professional who looks beyond the routine duties. “The golf industry changes daily,” he exclaimed, “and keeping up with those changes and adapting to new ideas is challenging. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
And the next time you tee it up at Ballantyne, look for Allen. He will be the only one in the pro with a golf club in one hand and a marketing plan in the other. After all, he is a businessman whose product just happens to be a popular leisure activity.
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