Meet Alan Cull – General Manager Of TPC Twin Cities
By R.J Smiley
Golf fans will never feel the presence of Alan Cull during the 3M Open. Unlike the erratic gyrations of the director of a symphony orchestra, Alan Cull, General Manager of TPC Twin Cities, has the education and experience to host a successful PGA TOUR Event and go completely unnoticed.
“I grew up knowing that I was going to be in the business of sports management,” said Alan Cull. “I did not know which sport would be my calling, but I knew my job would be sports related. Growing up in the Detroit area, I loved the Red Wings, in fact they are still my favorite team.”
Alan went on to explain how he would follow the path leading to a career in golf. “My dad died when I was six years old. Both sets of grandparents, who lived nearby, became very close, like parents to me. They played golf so I was always around the game. While I was in school I participated in all the sports – football, basketball, hockey and baseball. My school did not have a golf team so golf was just summer recreation for my friends and me; we just played for fun. During my junior year a football knee injury got me started playing golf seriously. That summer I finished second at a junior tournament sponsored by LazyBoy. I was hooked.”
“My mom and my grandparents encouraged me to find a career path where I could move directly from school into a job with immediate advancement opportunities. That is the reason I choose Ferris State University. Ferris offered a degree in Professional Golf Management and most Ferris State students received summer internships where they could graduate with real life practical job experience.”
During his first year as an intern Alan journeyed to TPC Avenel (today TPC Potomac) where he stayed with his aunt and uncle who lived in the DC area. “My uncle worked in the Pentagon for NIS (Naval Investigative Service). The next summer I brought four more Ferris State students to Avenel as interns. We all lived in a two-bedroom apartment. We had a blast and we learned a lot.”
Upon graduation, with a BS in Business Management and Professional Golf Management, Alan went back to Avenel where his responsibilities were increased as he gained experience. His future wife, Gretchen, worked in marketing at the club. She then moved on to Congressional Country Club as the golf shop business manager and later on to Soft Spikes. “Having a wife who understands the golf business has been a blessing.”
In 1993 Alan moved back to Michigan as assistant golf professional at TPC Michigan. His position changed quickly. That same year he was promoted to head golf professional.
“For three years Gretchen and I had a long distance relationship. She stayed in the DC area while I was in Michigan. In 1996 we were married and she moved to TPC Michigan where she worked in marketing and communications.”
In 1998 Alan became the sales manager for the Ford Senior Players Championship. The experience gained from being a head professional in the TPC network and sales manager for a major golf championship set Alan up for his current job with TPC Twin Cities. When the new TPC Twin Cities course opened in 2000, Alan was hired as the head golf professional. That same year the 3M Championship moved from Bunker Hills to TPC Twin Cities.
Over his career with the TPC courses, Alan feels blessed to have gotten to meet and serve two of the all time greatest legends of golf. “When I worked at TPC Michigan I had the chance to serve Jack Nicklaus on many occasions. TPC Michigan is a Nicklaus Signature Golf Course. Jack was around a lot. Then we moved to the Twin Cities where Arnold Palmer designed TPC Twin Cities with some input from Tom Lehman. It was wonderful to meet and to serve these two great gentlemen.”
During TPC Twin Cities’ grand opening event in June of 2000, Alan had the pleasure of caddying for Mr. Palmer. Alan recalled a time a few years ago that Brian Simpson, director of the First Tee Of The Twin Cities, had a group of young golfers who were serving as First Tee course reporters. “Their job was to report on the 3M Championship from the eyes of young golfers. I took them into the locker room, Mr. Palmer’s locker is Locker #1 with his name across the top. I vividly remember the thrill on the face of each of those young golfers as they had their picture taken standing in front of Mr. Palmer’s locker. It was hard for me to believe that those kids knew that Mr. Palmer was the King of Golf.”
“With the experienced gained from hosting 18 3M Championships, I feel that the club is ready for the step up to a regular PGA TOUR event. With the completion of our competitive enhancement project last fall, we feel the course is primed for a great week. Our staff can handle the challenge and the membership is eager to showcase their newly improved golf course to the world.”
With the education and experience gained from years of formal and practical experience and a respect for the players and his members there is no doubt that Alan Cull will go unnoticed, but the event will be first class.