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Louis Jonietz says ... it’s all about dreams at River Bend Golf Club
Louis Jonietz, manager of golf operations at River Bend Golf Club, stands on the site where the new pro shop will soon be built.
When Lew Hayden and Mike Yanity purchased the River Bend Golf Club at Floresville, they had a dream for what the facility could one day become. Now, as the new manager of golf operations, Louis Jonietz, works to make that dream a reality, he takes pleasure also in living out a dream of his own.
Prior to taking over as club manager April 1, Jonietz was self-employed in the staffing industry, where he managed an $11-million book of business. He made a good living, but always dreamed of being more involved in golf -- a passion he has enjoyed since early childhood.
Jonietz’s love of golf extends back more than 40 years to a time when his talent for the game was first discovered. When he was just 8 years old, a professional golf coach told Jonietz’s parents, Ben and Shirley, that his swing was perfect and that there was nothing he could teach the young man.
“I guess you could say I had a ghost chasing me for a long time,” Jonietz said. “There was a lot of potential and so many expectations, but it never really worked out.”
Although the priorities of life changed for Jonietz, he never abandoned his love for the game. He stayed with golf and even “played more than I should have” during different periods of his life. As he grew older, a grounded and humble Jonietz began to dream about working in the golfing industry, and of maybe even playing on the senior circuit one day. So when the opportunity to manage the River Bend Golf Club came along, he hesitated very little before accepting the job.
“I had to discuss it with my wife, but she was so supportive,” Jonietz said. “She told me, ‘God is opening the door -- you need to walk through it.’”
Jonietz took his wife’s advice and has been enjoying every minute since. He believes deeply in making the course and club into a success, and even moved with his wife to a home in the Avalon subdivision.
“I should have done this 30 years ago,” Jonietz said with a large, contagious smile. “For the first time in my life, I truly love what I do for a living.”
While his background may not be in golf-course management specifically, Jonietz believes his passion for the sport and people makes him a perfect fit. He has a solid foundation in sales and marketing, and enjoys working closely with others.
“Managing a golf course is really about managing people,” Jonietz said, “and I’m very blessed to have really good people here.”
Jonietz credits the ownership and his staff for the success the course has already seen, despite the short period of time it has been under new ownership. He said everyone at River Bend is dedicated and extremely hardworking.
When it comes to the course itself, Jonietz again deflected praise, saying all of the credit for its excellent condition belongs to course superintendent Rick Burlingame and his team.
“With all his hard work, he makes my job easier,” Jonietz said.
There have been a number of challenges for Jonietz already, but he knows they will achieve success.
“I knew Lew, and I knew what he wanted for this place,” Jonietz said. “It’s exciting because this was a dream, and I get to work on making it come true. That excites me and makes me want to work harder.”
He said he also has great admiration for co-owner Yanity, a man he has known for nearly 25 years.
“He has a very strong drive and work ethic,” Jonietz said. “He’s a hardworking man, and that motivates us to work hard too.”
Jonietz said there are a number of projects keeping him busy right now, including construction of the tennis courts, which is nearly complete; the new pro shop, on which construction is about to begin; and the renovation of the restaurant, expected to be completed by October.
“We have a lot going on, and I hope people will see all the work the new owners are putting into River Bend,” he said.
He also understands that some former club members may be wary because of experiences with previous owners and managers. Jonietz is working hard to mend those fences, though, and hopes former members will return to the facility. At one time, the club enjoyed a membership base of nearly 300, and Jonietz hopes to meet or even exceed that number in the near future.
If you haven’t been to the golf course in a while, now may be the time for a return trip. Things are happening quickly at River Bend, and everyone is working to make it a premier facility in South Texas. And while he would never take credit for it, Jonietz is sure to be a big part of whatever success the club enjoys.
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