by Bob Bostwick
At 62 years old, 42 of them behind the counters of seven golf course pro shops, Wine Valley’s General Manager and PGA Head Professional Chris Isaacson is changing sides. He’s going to the other side of the counter, doing so as a player – and doing so no longer as a golf professional, but as a professional golfer.
His retirement, which took effect January 1, 2022, will mean time for himself, his family, and especially his grandchildren. Further, it will mean his own tee times, and lots of ‘em.
Isaacson’s successor at the popular and highly acclaimed Wine Valley will be Tyler Sweet, himself moving to Walla Walla and Frenchtown from his head pro job at Port Ludlow. Sweet is 42, born the same year Isaacson began his professional career.
Isaacson spent the past four years at Wine Valley, vintage years, to include a robust finish – sort of like the fine wines served in a bevy of tasting rooms nearby along U.S. Highway 12 and throughout the Walla Walla region.
“I’ve absolutely loved every day I’ve come to work,” Isaacson said. “Now I’m ready to unplug from the schedule, ready to spend time with my kids and grandkids. I love the game now more than ever, and Wine Valley has been a special place.”
Isaacson’s legacy glows with a record of hospitality, teaching, and impressive play, qualities long recognized among his contemporaries.
“He’s one of the best, a consummate professional,” said Bob Scott, PGA head pro at Spokane County’s MeadowWood Golf Course, and a pro for almost as many years. “Chris is a great example of how to provide customer service and personality in the pro shop. He’s also a very good player, and I love to talk to him every time I come down here.”
Sweet, meanwhile, is already on board, moving to Walla Walla in early November, a 45-day stint with Isaacson underway until Sweet takes over January 1.
“Chris has set a lot of great things in place (at Wine Valley),” Sweet said. “I’m filling some pretty big footsteps. It’s not common in this business to spend 45 days learning the ropes. Chris is one of those guys whose customer service is so good, and this can be a tough business to work in.”
Isaacson’s pipe dreams include some travel. Scotland is to be expected, but Spain is also a strong possibility. To be sure, most of his travel will include all points across Washington and the Pacific Northwest. There are those tee times to fill, ya know.
“My game is still in there,” Isaacson said. “I have to knock some rust off it. But I look forward not just to playing the game, but competing more.”
He likes the sound of “professional golfer.”
“That really is true,” he said. “I can look forward to playing with friends and in tournaments. I have so many relationships with good people, and I never get enough time to spend with any of them. I have always felt my role in golf has been to make a difference. The value of the friendships I’ve made is immeasurable.”