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Q&A: Scott Van Newkirk | Troon CDO

The 15-year Troon executive discusses the importance of patience and perseverance, and shares what's on his musical playlist

Scott Van Newkirk, third from left, with (from left) Mike Ryan, Troon chief operating officer; Dana Garmany, Troon founder; and Jay McGrath, Troon chief legal officer.

As a middle school wrestler, Scott Van Newkirk suffered more losses than he would care to remember, but defeat served him well as it helped shaped a never-give-up attitude. Today, Van Newkirk and his business development team have collaborated to help Troon become the world's largest professional club management company — providing services 750-plus locations in over 45 stated and 30 countries.

In this The First Call Q&A, Van Newkirk reflects on those early years and how he uses those lessons today, what made him become more grateful and his personal keys to success.

The First Call: In one sentence, describe what you do for a living.
Scott Van Newkirk: I have conversations with amazing people across the globe learning of their specific challenges and describing how our amazing resources solve for those challenges.

TFC: What time do you wake in the morning, and what time do you typically start the workday?
SVN: When I am home in Arizona, my normal wake up is 4:45 a.m. I am at my F45 workout by 5:45, home to take the dog to the park by 7 and to the office by 8:30. Typically I leave the office around 6 p.m. With our connected world, I’ll check emails in the morning before I go to work out and again before going to bed around 8:30 p.m.

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Scott Van Newkirk

TFC: What are key elements to leadership or to being a good leader? 
SVN: Collaboration and be the example. My style is very collaborative as it relates to leading the team. We make decisions as a unit. There are times when I have to make the final call that not all agree with, but the team is always included in all key decisions we make. I’ve also always tried to never ask someone to do something that I wouldn’t do. We are fortunate to have so many capable people, so my job is really to be there to provide assistance and advice on life, professional and personal development and work.

TFC: What changes, if any, have you made based on the events of the past few years? 
SVN: Live with more gratitude. Over the past 2-plus years there has been a lot of disruption and it really woke me up as to how fortunate and blessed my family and I are. It has made me focus more on being grateful versus worrying about what life hasn’t given us. At the end of the day, what I do every day is something I am passionate about and, more importantly, I love the people I get to work with every day. Not many can say those words.

TFC: What's the secret to your success?
SVN: Perseverance and a "never give up" attitude. I have told the story to many, but I look back on my high school days as formative, for sure. Long story short, I was a really bad wrestler. My school in Nebraska was known as a powerhouse wrestling team. I didn’t really like it, but the football coaches wanted you to wrestle. So I went out in seventh, eighth and ninth grade and proceeded to lose every match. By 10th grade I was done with it, so I didn’t go out. The wrestling coach was a friend of my father, so I saw him often. Every time we met, he was recruiting me to come back out my junior year. So the next year I went out, lost 20 pounds and finally made the JV team, so I was getting to wrestle in matches every week and tournaments most weekends. I finally won my first match early that year in a tournament in Cheyenne, Wyoming. I went on to win a lot more than I lost that year. By my senior year, I knew I was going to college to play golf, so I didn’t wrestle again, but the entire experience provided a foundation from which I have tried to never waver. Life provides challenges and it is how we approach those with a "never quit" attitude that creates success.

TFC: Who is your role model?
SVN: Faith first and then a host of other amazing people who have helped shape who I am today. My father was a key role model my entire life and others who have been influential in my career starting with Dick Hyland, who was a mentor early in my career; Steve Sears, who was my leader on the ground when I started my career with Troon on loan to Goldman Sachs in our work in Japan — I would not have survived the move to Tokyo without his guidance and friendship; Tim Schantz who brought me onto the [business development] team in 2007. I wouldn’t be in the position I am today without all of them providing leadership, guidance and true friendship.

TFC: Knowing what you know today, what professional advice would you give a younger you?
SVN: Patience. Looking back on my career, I always wanted progression to happen quickly. What I have learned was I did have a plan and things have worked out as they were meant to be, even if it doesn’t look exactly like you planned or as quickly as one desires.

TFC: What’s the last book you read?
SVN: I need to read more, but the last two I read are "Extreme Ownership" and "Discipline Equals Freedom," both by Jocko Willink. I enjoy any type of business leadership books. Earlier in my career I read everything John Maxwell put out. I’d strongly suggest all of John’s books for young leaders in business today.

TFC: What’s the last movie you saw?
SVN: "Thirteen Lives," the story of the Thai kids who were trapped in the cave in Thailand. Talk about perseverance on the part of the kids and those who donated their time and talents to save the kids. Crazy.

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Scott Van Newkirk with his dog Babe.

TFC: What’s on your playlist?
SVN: Pretty much anything country. I’d say Eric Church, Morgan Wallen, Chris Stapleton and Luke Combs get the most play.

TFC: When I’m not at work, you can find me ...
SVN: Traveling with or spending time with family, playing and competing in golf. My lovely wife, Heidi, might tell the latter takes up all of the time. She’s amazing as we’ve been married 29 years and together 36 years. She gives me a lot of rope to pursue my love of the game.

TFC: What is your greatest extravagance?
SVN: Probably the trip my wife and took to Italy in 2019.

TFC: What was your path to the golf industry?
SVN: During my first year of college [at Grand Canyon University] , I was taking golf lessons from a gentleman who worked as an assistant professional at Desert Highlands. This led to a part-time job at Desert Mountain as it was opening, which led to meeting Dick Hyland, who was the club's director of golf. He was really the person who encouraged me to focus a career in the industry after I graduated from college. He pushed me to get my PGA membership as quickly as I could and then pursue my own job, which I started as the first GM at Eagle Mountain. From there I pursued an opportunity to create our own management company, which led me to Troon. I’ve enjoyed the industry and have no regrets on my career choice.

TFC: What is your handicap index?
SVN: 0.3.

TFC: What are the favorite golf courses you have played?
SVN: Augusta National, Pebble Beach, Troon North and Robert Trent Jones Golf Club. Augusta, for obvious reasons, probably takes the cake at the top of the list.

TFC: Which golf courses do you belong to (if you care to share)?
SVN: My son is a good player and played on his high school team. They practiced at Tatum Ranch so we joined there in 2013 so he could have more access. Arcis owns it and does a nice job. I enjoy just being a member, playing in the events with a fun group of people. It’s also very conveniently located from our home.