When Shelby Oaks club pro Rob Fridley began his annual ritual of handing out awards and announcing the winners at the Shelby County Open recently, he first thanked the people who helped put the tournament on.
And the first name out of his mouth was “Hawk.”
As anyone who’s ever been to the course knows, “Hawk” is Craig Seving, Fridley’s long-time assistant general manager. The Oaks is celebrating 50 years in operation, and Fridley and Seving have been working together for better than 30 of those years.
“He’s my right-hand man,” Fridley said recently. “His personality is not to be out front. He doesn’t want to be the face of the operation. But he takes care of pairings, scoreboards, signs,… he keeps track of all that. We have a hundred outings here every year, and without the work Hawk does, we’d be in trouble. And his biggest attribute — besides always being on time — is that he’s as honest as the day is long. And he thinks of this place as his just as much as I do.”
Seving said he never expected the game of golf to give him the kind of life he enjoys now.
“But I just fell in love with the people, and I’ve always loved golf,” Seving said. “I was probably four years old when I started swinging a golf club.”
Seving was a sophomore and Fridley a senior when they were at Sidney High School together, and they were members of the golf team that won a league championship. They both went on to play at Tiffin University, and even roomed together for a semester there.
“He worked for our superintendent Tim Brennon all through high school and college,” said Fridley. “When I was looking for someone to be my assistant, I thought of him right away. When you work as close together as we do, you expect some disagreements. It’s a team effort for all our staff, but working two feet from each other, I’m not sure Hawk and I have ever had an argument. I can’t ever remember leaving work angry at him.”
Seving started out in maintenance at the course, and for good reason.
“When I first started out, an easy way to get your membership was to work at the course,” he said. “And we played a lot of golf back then.”
But he got more than he bargained for.
“Back then, the staff wasn’t very big and sometimes we’d end up working 16-hour days,” he said. “You had no automated watering systems, so you’d be out there watering all night long.”
Around 1985, he moved inside, and said he loved it from the start, even though there were — and still are — a lot of responsibilities people don’t see, from setting up tee times to giving lessons to helping with the many fundraising events that are held at the course.
“The fundraising we’ve done, Rob has really grown the tournaments,” he said. “It’s amazing how much money he’s generated, or been a part of, for this whole community, as far as having a golf tournament and being able to have that tournament make as little as $15,oo0 or up to $70,000. And we’ve been doing that for a long time. Just some of the things people don’t realize that Shelby Oaks does for the community and the area. We don’t do all the work, but we provide the means to do it.”
A check with Fridley revealed that the course is approaching the $5 million mark in fundraising dollars over the last 25 years. “We keep track of that on a yearly basis,” he said.
When Fridley said Seving’s personality is “not to be out front,” he was right. A humble man, when he was asked to talk about himself, he did so reluctantly, and the conversation soon went in a different direction — toward kids that started at the course and went on to bigger and better things.
“I enjoy it all,” he said. “I love seeing young kids get involved in the game, and then go on to college. I think we’ve been very fortunate here to see a lot of kids play at a very high level in college. Go back to the days of Ashley Wilt at Toledo, we’ve had the Mike Kings play at Notre Dame, Ryan Coyne at Kentucky, Zach Yinger, Matt Roth, Nate Fridley, Jeff Cotner… And then you have a couple girls who got involved in golf fifteen years ago, like Tara Miller, who is here in Sidney, Kelly Putnam, Brooke Albers… I mean, there’s been quite a few, like Emily Knouff (Fort Loramie), who stands out right now. She’s an example of how hard work pays off.
“That gives you a sense of accomplishment,” Seving went on. “Everyone here who has helped them along the way, it makes you feel good to see it and get those kind of rewards.”
His job takes up most his time this time of year.
“We’re open from seven in the morning til about 10 at night, and even when you’re not here, you’re always worried about the next day,” he said. “And if you don’t like the people, you don’t belong in this job.”
Of course, his longevity begs the question, how much longer? And that might depend on the boss.
“Rob and I are a package,” he said. “I wouldn’t be doing this if not for him. And I’ve always told him, if you go, I go. Plus, I don’t think I can do anything else — this is all I know.”
And he does it well.
Reach Ken Barhorst at 937-538-4818