97: Working with Legends at the Top of the Rock with Eric Smith

Today, Eric Smith, Head PGA Professional at the Top of the Rock property in Branson, MO joins us to share his stories, experiences and insights into his time working at what is becoming one of the hottest golf destinations in the country.  Bass Pro Shop founder Johnny Morris has created one of the most unique golf and resort locations in the world.

With a Championship 18 and 9-hole course (and another 18 and 12 hole course on the way), designed by legends including Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, and Ben Crenshaw, Top of the Rock and Bass Pro Legends of Golf Champions Tour event have become

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Eric Smith’s Background

  • Eric Smith Top of the RockGrew up in Southwest Michigan
  • His love of golf got started after an injury sidelined him from other sports
  • Started caddying in his teenage years
  • Managed a local course at the age of 21
  • Began working some PGA Tour Championship events in Atlanta
  • Was introduced to the team at Top of the Rock and got the jod as the Head PGA Professional

Highlights from this Episode

  • Eric shares his story on how he became a part of the team at Top of the Rock
  • We discuss his philosophy when giving lessons, especially when working with a “traveling golfer” that is on vacation and he may only have one lesson with.
  • Eric’s number one tip for every player he works with, is have a club near by: give yourself the opportunity to feel the club and work on your positions/swings whenever you can. This will help you ingrain the things you are working on.
  • We talk about Johnny Morris, the founder of Bass Pro Shop, Big Cedar Lodge and Top of the Rock.  Eric shares Johnny’s story of going from selling bait and tackle in the corner of his dad’s Brown Derby Liquor store to having one of (if not the) the largest outdoors company in the world, the #1 Resort location in the Midwest, and a Championship golf facility, all based out of the Springfield/Branson, MO region.
  • Eric also shares how and why Johnny decided to revamp Top of the Rock into such an amazing golf location and bring the Champions Tour in every year for such a special event (The Legends of Golf at Big Cedar Lodge)
  • The Legends of Golf Tour format consists of two divisions; the 50 plus group and the Legends group which is 65 plus (including players like Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Crenshaw, Tom Watson, and in past years, Arnold Palmer).
  • Eric breaks down the playing schedule for each group, which course they play and how many times.
  • We also discuss the plans ahead at Top of the Rock which include a soon to be opened, Gary Player,  12-hole par 3 course, followed by another 18-hole championship course designed by Coore & Crenshaw (one of the top groups in golf course design).

Top of the Rock

CaddyShack or Happy Gilmore?

Happy Gilmore (it was a toss up, depends on the mood)

One or 2 of the Most Influential People, Books, or Experiences in Your Life?

When he got hurt in high school and decided to give golf a try

Who would you like to spend a day on the course with?

His Dad at Augusta National

What are you excited about in your near future?

The opening of the Gary Player course

Where to Find Eric Smith and Top of the Rock:

website: www.TopoftheRock






Other Links Mentioned

PGA Champions Tour

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