Vail Golf Club Manager Alice Plain Wins Colorado Golf Professional of the Year Award

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Alice Plain is playing at the Vail Golf Club on a summer evening.
Courtesy photo

Alice Plain, Director of Golf at Vail Golf Club, has been selected as the 2021 Colorado PGA Golf Professional of the Year – the highest honor bestowed annually by the Colorado PGA.

The annual honor goes to a PGA member for their overall performance, including leadership, service and promotion of the game.

“I am so excited and honored to win this award,” Plain said in a press release. “I have worked very hard in my career and it is incredibly rewarding to be recognized as Golf Professional of the Year.



Growing up in South Bend, Indiana, Plain was exposed to golf from a young age.

“I was the last hope in the family to return to the sport,” she said.



Her father, George Plain, intentionally introduced her and her three other siblings to sports for a long time. Although Plain admits to playing more soccer growing up, she always came back to golf because it meant spending time with her father. When asked who an influential model was, she was quick to share the relationship she had with her father; he became a good friend and mentor as they spent a lot of time on the course.

Growing up as a member of the South Bend Country Club, Plain recalls a conversation she had with then-professional PGA chef John Guyton, which echoed her father’s philosophy on the importance of lifelong sport.

Plain said Guyton told him, “You can make this sport a career,” and the advice stuck.

Entering her 25th year with the Colorado Chapter, Plain admits that the challenges she faced trying to golf as a woman in a male-dominated industry have prepared her for her career today. She was not allowed to play competitive golf in high school because there was no women’s team at the time.

In college, it wasn’t until she set up a meeting with the president of Hanover College and the men’s golf team roster that she was allowed to play competitively.

Members of the men’s team “fought for me,” Plain said. “It was huge – I wasn’t alone in my fight, and they wanted me to be part of the team. It set the stage for me. They knew I could compete and it gave me confidence on the course and in life to know that I could compete in a man’s world.

After two seasons with the men’s team, Plain transferred to Oklahoma State University, where she helped the women’s golf team to finish third in the 1989 national championship. Graduating, Plain moved to Colorado to embrace the true beauty of the Centennial State and all it had to offer: golf and skiing, which she loved very much.

When Plain was working for Mike Steiner, the PGA Head Professional of Singletree Golf (now the Sonnenalp Club), a light bulb went out and she found herself enrolling in the PGA Apprentice Program. She immediately recognized her connection to teaching during her first winter in Colorado, where she taught skiing at Vail Resorts, and quickly understood how what she was doing in the snow could translate to fairways.

The 1989 Oklahoma State Women’s Golf Team finished third in a tournament at Stanford University. From left to right, Shelia Dills (Lugebuel), Eva Dahlof, Marnie McGuire, coach Ann Pitts, Carolyn McKenzie and Alice Plain.

As Director of Golf at Vail Golf Club, Plain wears many hats, but one of her favorite roles is the opportunity to mentor future PGA professionals.

“It helps us as an industry,” she said. “You have to challenge them and you have to teach them. It is important to take the time to spend with them to expose them to everything we do on and off the golf course.

It is clear that Plain’s leadership has had a lasting impact and impression on the club and its peers. Trey Johnson, PGA Professional Assistant at Vail Golf Club, can attest to this.

“It gives you the space and the function to make it your own, while also guiding you through the process,” he said. “She’s always good at checking in along the way.”

Nathan Mead, PGA Head Professional at Vail Golf Club, reiterated that through her leadership style, Plain has created a culture that enables freedom, but “she always sustains us – until the end, even until the end. at fault. She supports us from start to finish, and you never feel alone with something or trapped in a box.

Plain has mentored more than 35 PGA Professional Golf Management interns throughout his career.

It’s something she continued to seek out at Vail Golf Club. PGA Professional Assistant George Hart was quick to share that Plain puts all of his staff “in situations to be successful.” The culture, impact and environment she created during her stay is something she would like to be remembered as she sees their team, in her words, “like family”.

“We are all committed to helping each other,” she said. “No matter your title, we’re in the same boat.”

A real testament to Plain’s leadership is the way she and her peers have handled the pandemic. Plain stepped in without being asked and guided the Eagle County Golf Council through navigation on how golf could be played safely in uncharted waters.

“We were able to come to an agreement all together, which was huge. It was important to be on the same page through all of this, and it was even better that we also had the support of the Colorado section, ”she said.

Plain and four of his colleagues have met regularly with Eagle County health officials to determine the safest way for golfers to enjoy the sport while continuing to adhere to CDC guidelines. At one point, Plain received a phone call from health officials informing him that five of his staff were to be placed in 10-day quarantine.

“Our staff didn’t skip a beat and never complained once,” she said. “We had four of our staff who ran the golf operations for 10 days and we were fully booked for those 10 days. Our guests didn’t notice that there were so few of us, and all I could think of was how much the culture we have created has prepared us for times like these. This is how we operate.

While some might say 2020 wasn’t ideal with all of the challenges it brought, Plain found light in the dark that year. Seven years ago, she met a young man, Heivan Garcia, while playing hockey, while working at the Vail Dobson Rink in the Vail Recreation District.

“He had such a great personality, he was a football player – he won the 2012 state football tournament with Battle Mountain High School, but he had never played golf,” he said. she declared.

Alice Plain took Heivan Garcia, who played soccer, under her wing to learn golf.
Courtesy photo

So Plain took it upon herself to introduce him to the world of golf and outfit him with clubs, a bag and, of course, his expertise in the game. As they became friends over the years. years ago, Plain learned that he was here with a resident card and that he did not have his citizenship.

So Plain did what she does best.

“While working here I met a retired lawyer who was in town to play a few rounds of golf,” she said. “He was able to put me in touch with an immigration lawyer in Denver. “

The entire process spanned two years, and last September Garcia obtained his citizenship in a swearing-in ceremony outside the Colorado National Monument in Grand Junction.

“It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life – so much so that Heivan and I want to start a non-profit organization that can help others gain citizenship,” she said. Plain sees this as his “retirement plan” and hopes to have the opportunity to help others in the valley like Garcia.

The power of golf can often be underestimated or forgotten, but PGA pros like Plain are reminders of how incredibly rewarding, powerful and impactful the sport and industry can be.

Plain would like to especially thank everyone who helped her get to where she is today. She would like to give special thanks to Ann Pitts, her coach at Oklahoma State, “for giving me the opportunity” to play and compete on the women’s golf team.

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