Cory Armstrong saw a record number of rounds take place on the golf courses in the Carolinas PGA section throughout 2020.
Golf interest increased big time with people seeking an outlet during the coronavirus pandemic, and golf courses there never shut down throughout the year as they did in New Mexico.
Armstrong said he loved working in the Carolinas PGA section for the past 17 years, and most recently as the assistant executive director, but he saw a great opportunity to become the new executive director of the Sun Country Golf House. Armstrong starts work Feb. 1. The next day he turns 42.
Armstrong, who grew up in western Maryland, is a Summa Cum Laude graduate in Sports Management from West Virginia University, where he participated in the drum line for four years.
He takes over for Dana Lehner, who stepped down in September after 15 years to become the director of operations at Paa-Ko Ridge Golf Club.
“This is a unique setup,” Armstrong said of the Sun Country Golf House, which oversees the PGA section and amateur association throughout New Mexico and the West Texas region. “There’s only three Golf Houses in the country that are quite set up like Sun Country, the others being Kentucky and Indiana. One staff serving the two parent organizations.
“We have a real opportunity with this setup here to be efficient, to be able to advocate for and grow golf throughout all of New Mexico and West Texas, with one group, one body, one voice. Being able to be a part of that is exciting.”‘
Several golf courses in Albuquerque and throughout New Mexico experienced record numbers for rounds the past summer. There were two shutdowns, the most recent ending earlier this month. Armstrong said he is looking forward to working with a staff that will find or create ways so people continue going to golf courses.
“In our region, Sun Country, we do need to find that silver bullet that’s going to help maintain interest,” Armstrong said. “Golf, as much as any other sport you can think of, you’re in a wide-open space and away from people. People need that opportunity. People need to have that break from the daily stress to do something that is safe and healthy. I’m glad to see that golf courses have reopened. I hope that does not change in the coming year so that people can take advantage of the opportunities. We love seeing people are pulling their clubs out, the ones who haven’t played in years to do something that is safe. That is a credit to all the staff members at each of the golf courses who are able to provide the opportunity.”
Armstrong said he wants to produce events or create opportunities for golfers in the Sun Country to experience the sport in casual settings. In addition, player development programs could also help maintain the interest in golf, he said, as well as doubles golf competition and the PGA of America’s new program, the PGA Family Cup, that will feature junior golfers playing with their parents or guardians.
Armstrong also plans to expand the PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) program for military veterans in Albuquerque to additional markets in the Sun Country. He said it’s a very meaningful program that helps veterans gain free access, instruction and equipment.