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Callahan settling in as new pro at country club

One phone call from his uncle changed Mike Callahan’s career path.

Callahan was studying real estate and finance at St. Cloud State University, where he was also an assistant coach on the golf teams.

His uncle, a golf pro at Island View Golf Club in Waconia, gave him a call as graduation was approaching.

“It was a casual call, and it turned into, ‘What are you doing after college,’” Callahan said. “I didn’t have an answer, and he did. He said, ‘I’ve got a position for you, if you want to try it out.’”

Callahan’s uncle, Dan, needed an assistant golf pro at the club, and he ended up interviewing his nephew and offering him the job.

It was a perfect fit — Callahan grew up on a golf course and competed collegiately at St. Cloud State before becoming an assistant coach.

For one season he worked in Waconia and then his parents, John and Sue, happened to mention their son’s career path to the head pro at the Hastings Country Club, Bob Stark.

Stark said he may have a position opening in Hastings in 2012, and he told them to have Mike give him a call.

By 2012, Callahan was back in Hastings and then, this spring, he took over as the head pro at the club.

“I had intentions of getting into the golf business, and I wasn’t quite sure where it was going to take me,” he said. “I had no idea I’d be coming back here. When I grew up at the club, back at that time, Brad (Schmierer) and Bob and their staff was still here. It was tough to think at that time that coming back would even be a possibility. To think that 10 years after that, I’d be sitting in the same shop that Brad and Bob ran ... I don’t think I would have put money on it.”

There aren’t many days that go by where Callahan doesn’t think of that phone call from his uncle. He said he appreciates his help.

“He gave me 20, 30 years of his experience,” Callahan said. “He tried to teach me everything he knew. That’s tough to pay back.”

He also appreciates the help that Stark was able to give him as he got settled in Hastings.

“Brad and Bob left some big shoes to fill there,” he said. “Just like in golf, there’s something to improve every day, and that’s what we have to focus on. I’m fortunate to be able work at a great facility like this.”

Callahan, now 25 years old, said he loves working in a place that people love to come to.

“People are here to have fun,” he said. “That’s the really nice thing about it. When they come through your door, they are typically very happy. They can come out, relax and enjoy the game of golf. More than anything, it’s a place where people can walk in the door, be comfortable and enjoy themselves.

“As long as we can make them feel happy and welcome, I think we’ve done our job pretty well.”

Two very different seasons

Callahan had a great spring of 2012. The club opened early and he got to spend an extra month, essentially, learning from Stark.

This year? That wasn’t the case. It was his first year as the head pro, and the weather was brutal. Rounds played were way up last year, and rounds played through the first few months this year were down.

That’s all starting to level off now, Callahan said.

Playing days

Callahan grew up in Hastings, graduating from HHS in 2006.

He was a member of the Hastings boys golf team, playing on varsity as an eighth-grader. The Raiders were section champs in 2004 and qualified for the state tournament.

He was invited to walk-on at St. Cloud State and did so, making the team as a freshman. He golfed for four years there and then during his fifth year he was a coach for the men and the women.