FARMINGTON HILLS – Jason Iding was 11-years old when he started his golf career as a caddie at Western Golf & Country Club, and at age 47 he is still serving those who play the 95-year-old club’s classic Donald Ross-designed course.
Iding, the Western G&CC general manager who has served in several roles at the club over the last 36 years and most recently led the three-year recovery effort from a devastating clubhouse fire, has been named the Golf Association of Michigan Club Services Representative of the Year.
The GAM annually presents the honor to a club representative who demonstrates outstanding service to golf in Michigan.
“He has put his heart and soul in this place every day, and he has done a heck of a job,” said Dan Longeway, a GAM governor, volunteer, and board member at Western who nominated Iding for the GAM award.
“These last three years have taken a toll on him but he just kept going, bringing all the club members together, working with the board to keep things moving along, finding out what everybody wanted from a new clubhouse. I couldn’t have been more thrilled for him when I got the call that he won this award. It’s well-deserved.”
Iding is a rarity as a caddie who worked his way to caddie master, then through the Detroit College of Business (now part of Davenport University), then the PGA’s internship program to assistant golf professional status, then head golf professional and on to the general manager role all at the same club. He called the award unexpected, genuinely appreciated and humbling.
“I feel like everything in this golf business is a team effort and that it has taken the whole staff, the membership, all of us pulling together to get the club where it is today, especially the last three years,” he said. “We’re doing great and still finishing up. On June 1 it will be three years since the fire.”
Iding said devastating is the word for the fire that destroyed the clubhouse and prompted a complete rebuild. He was on the scene at 5 a.m. that 2018 morning as firefighters battled the flames that destroyed the historic clubhouse.
“We have a culture here, truly a family among the members and the staff,” he said. “It was devastating to watch the flames and see the emotion in the faces of the members and staff who kept arriving in droves that morning. They were upset, you know, a lot of memories have been made here. It was so difficult to see that.”
Iding said the members proved resilient and dedicated and made it possible to keep going.
“It was put behind us and the members really jumped on board and we hosted the Michigan Women’s Amateur like three weeks later – the golf course didn’t burn thankfully,” he said and laughed. “From there we decided together that it was a chance to create something special. It wasn’t going to be something that could happen in the short term, but there were 11 committees that were put together with five members on each committee, all dedicated to the job of a new clubhouse and they haven’t stopped. We’re still finishing things up, but the members are using the clubhouse now, we are getting great feedback, were booking gatherings again, and everybody loves what has truly been a team effort.”
Iding sees more great things ahead. A huge tent structure the members called “The Big Top” filled the clubhouse needs for most of the last three years, but he feels the new clubhouse is modern, spacious, functional and well-planned for the club to take on the future.
“I grew up here with a lot of the members,” he said. “I’ve seen ups and downs and this is a big up that has everybody feeling very good about Western. We had a club event the other day and I noticed four generations of families here, from a great grandfather to grandfather to a mom and the son and I remember when the mom was just a little junior golfer, when she was born actually, so through it all this is a family atmosphere for them and for me. That’s what really makes it special, and this club deserves this great new clubhouse.”
Iding includes his family, bringing his son Joshua to play golf at the club sometimes on Mondays.
“He’s 9, 10 in July, and he loves all sports and loves golf, too,” he said. “He likes being out here and that makes me feel good. I wasn’t a lot older than him when this became a special place to me. I think that’s a big part of the reason I’ve stayed here. I feel welcome here and always have”.