In recognition of leadership and long term service to both the professional and resort side of golf, Wayne Nooe, PGA of Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, VA has been named the 2017 Mid-Atlantic Golf Leader by NGCOA Mid-Atlantic.
Nooe started his illustrious career at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club in 1984 in golf operations before obtaining the position of Director of Pinehurst's Golf Advantage School. His career moved on to lead golf operations at Roanoke Country Club and The Homestead Resort before accepting his current role as Vice President of Golf & Sports at Kingsmill Resort.
Among Nooe's many accomplishments, the NGCOA Award Committee cited his key role in keeping professional golf in Virginia. His tenure at Kingsmill Resort has spanned 16 years under four ownership groups to include oversight for 14 PGA and LPGA Tour events.
Kingsmill's original owner, Anheuser-Busch, hosted the PGA Tour for 22 years. In 2001, the PGA Tour was pressing Anheuser-Busch to make a substantial increase in the purse, but AB questioned whether they "wanted to double their investment in the PGA Tour in such a small market?" Rather than make such an investment, Nooe was tasked with assessing a Senior PGA Tour or an LPGA Tour event as an alternative. After evaluation of the events and what was best for Kingsmill, it was determined that the timing and branding for an LPGA event was a better match. The decision led to nine LPGA events with Anheuser-Busch as the title sponsor.
Change started in 2009 when Anheuser-Busch/InBev began divesting their resort and amusement park business which terminated their relationship with the LPGA - there were no events in 2010 or 2011. Under Kingsmill Resort's new owner, Xanterra, Nooe expressed how important having a leadership position in golf was to Kingsmill and the entire Hampton Roads region. With support from the new owners, Nooe was instrumental in negotiating a new agreement with the LPGA Tour positioning Kingsmill Resort as the title sponsor through the 2017 event.
When Kingsmill changed hands to Escalante Golf in March 2017 many speculated that without a title sponsor the long run of professional golf at Kingsmill would come to an end. But Escalante, a golf-based company that plays host to PGA Tour, Senior PGA Tour and Web.com Tour events were intrigued by the thought of also hosting an LPGA Tour event. Once again, Nooe's input was sought out which resulted in the LPGA and Kingsmill agreeing to a new contract which will keep the LPGA Tour in Virginia for the next three years.
"The LPGA event means a lot to our members, residents, staff and community, which provides over 1,100 volunteers," said Nooe. "The goal as we move forward is to grow our event and create more charity dollars to give back to our community." Over the years, professional golf at Kingsmill has raised over $6.5 million to support local community charities.
Of course Nooe's day-to-day focus is to serve the members of The Club at Kingsmill and guests of the resort with enjoyable programming. Kingsmill stages over 100 events for men and women members. For youth, they are active participants in the PGA Junior League. Nooe's team runs junior clinics and grooms youngsters who aspire to play in high school and college. Escalante is very supportive of junior golf and junior programming is available for all levels. Kingsmill hosts a myriad of junior and college events, and they are home to the William and Mary golf team.
Nooe is very active in the promotion of golf to women and members of Kingsmill. The Kingsmill ladies group has an 18-hole and a 9-hole division. There are weekly events for ladies and Kingsmill supports the local Tidewater ladies associations by hosting tournaments. They also offer an excellent instructional program for ladies and men. A popular new program is an unlimited lesson series, which members sign up for on a monthly basis. Their weekday "Putting for Fivers" has turned out to be a fun social event where anyone can compete. Players show up to the practice green at 5:30 pm on Thursdays, and for $5 they compete in a progressive contest that continues until a winner is determined.
Nooe has been an advocate for the promotion of golf and tourism in Virginia having worked closely with Virginia Tourism in the past as well as serving as chairman of the Sports Marketing Committee for the Williamsburg Tourism Alliance. The committee assists in the generation of room nights and tourism revenues, throughout the region, from sports related programs including youth soccer, volleyball, triathlons, bike races, football camps, marathons and more.
During his 16-year tenure at Kingsmill, Nooe has overseen several property renovations. In 2003, Kingsmill Resort sustained damage from Hurricane Isabelle shutting down all resort operations and all three golf courses. With significant repairs needed to all guest rooms, condos and golf courses, in a short amount of time, Nooe and his team displayed incredible leadership and teamwork to re-establish operations and play within six months.
In 2005 the River Course was completely renovated. Pete Dye was brought in to achieve two primary goals: (1) make the golf course more playable for higher handicap players, and (2) transform a 1970's "look" into a modern one that is timeless and natural. Several forced carries were eliminated which create a more enjoyable round of golf for the majority of play.
In 2015 and 2016 Wayne was appointed as acting General Manager for Kingsmill. In this role, he was responsible for working with designers and architects to oversee a $6 million dollar renovation to Kingsmill's 400 guest rooms and condos which allowed the resort to remain competitive in the marketplace.
Over the years, Wayne is one of a few people who have worked for every owner at Kingsmill. Ownership changes normally bring about wholesale staff changes, but Nooe has survived and prospered. His approach is to make people feel proud about what they are doing, and proud of their product. During transitions, Nooe has tried to openly share whatever he knows, to be as friendly and cordial as he can, and to share what was done and why. Being up front and making sure new ownership understands the operation and reasons "why" created a sense of confidence for new owners...
So how did Nooe get into the golf business upon graduating from NC State in the early 80's? His first job was for minimum wage ($3.50/hour) at as a shop clerk at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club, which allowed him to get his foot in the door at a great golf facility. Wayne then entered the PGA apprentice program, and eventually was promoted to head pro at Pinehurst Number 6 course and Pinehurst's instructional programs.
Pinehurst was owned by Club Corp, and in 1993 they purchased Virginia's iconic resort, The Homestead. Almost immediately Wayne declared his interest in the Director of Golf position. Wayne was selected for the job and was there for 6½ years. During his tenure, he oversaw numerous renovations on the golf courses and the property in general. He brought new life to the place known as "Virginia's Grande Dame." During his time there he successfully secured and hosted many VSGA Championships, Merrill Lynch Senior Tour Shoot-Out Finals, NCAA Men's Championship, USGA Women's Amateur, and the USGA Mid- Amateur Championship.
But it was the opportunity at Kingsmill that that he could pull together all of his experiences and take on a new role overseeing golf, tennis, spa, marina, membership and other amenities. It was a perfect fit, and with his experience at The Homestead, he was quickly hired. The Homestead had given him a perspective that people visit resorts for a lot of different things and not just golf.
Nooe credits Don Padgett, as the most influential person in his career. Padgett was in charge of all golf at Pinehurst and a former President of the PGA of America. "It was almost a daily occurrence at Pinehurst that 'Padge' and I spent time in his office and just talked" said Nooe. "The wealth of knowledge I learned from him was invaluable and I still use it on a daily basis."
Nooe also enjoyed the company of Pat Corso, President of Pinehurst. "I just liked watching him - he had a very creative way about him - he was a big thinker. He used to say 'I want something torn up at Pinehurst 365 days a year' meaning constant change and improvement was needed to remain relevant."
While at The Homestead, resort President Gary Rosenberg allowed Nooe to see parts of the business outside of golf. It was there he gained an understanding of food & beverage, rooms, and other resort amenities. This background and knowledge has been very instrumental during his time at Kingsmill.
He also had great respect for Homestead Cascades pro Don Ryder, a former winner of the same award. "Don is the ultimate gentleman and really knows how to treat people. I always enjoyed watching him interact with people and the way he genuinely cared for people."
Nooe was humbled to be recognized with this award. "Anytime someone thinks you are a leader that is a compliment in itself. But to be recognized by your peers, people who know what you go through and who know how hard it can be, is very special." Finally, he quipped, "It could also mean you're getting old!"