Though he’s new to the area, first-year Powell Golf Club professional Mike Propp is no stranger to Wyoming golf.
A native of Casper and graduate of Natrona County High School, Propp played golf on and off growing up, though baseball was his first love. Talented enough to earn a spot on the University of Wyoming’s baseball team, Propp moved to Phoenix after his baseball career ended, where he rediscovered his love for golf.
“I became a diehard, addicted golfer at that point,” Propp said. “I entered into the PGA program [and] went through my business education, which took about five years. All that time, I continued to work on my game.”
Propp mentored with some “great PGA professionals” on the business side of things, as well as the golf instruction. He found himself drawn to the golf instruction side of the game, and knew he had found what he wanted to do.
“I ended up working at the No.1-rated golf course in Scottsdale, Arizona, which was Troon North Golf Club,” Propp explained. “We had a Golf Digest School on site, and I was the first original member of the Troon North Golf Academy. I got to teach in the Golf Digest School for four years.”
During those four years, Propp had the opportunity to work with some of the foremost golf instructors in the world. Calling it “a great learning experience,” Propp followed that with a year of teaching with Gary McCord and Peter Kostis.
“That experience was fantastic,” Propp said of working with McCord and Kostis, two renowned golf instructors and analysts for CBS Sports. “Those two are great guys, and I learned a lot.”
Working with a number of different instructors, Propp developed his own unique teaching style, taking something from each instructor he studied under. He began teaching full-time, doing clinics for as many as 500 people. He eventually moved back to Wyoming, teaching the Wyoming State High School Coaches’ Clinic for about seven years.
“That was also a great experience,” Propp said. “Having been in the business a while, I had some great jobs and been to some great places. But I never thought I’d end up in Powell, but I love it here. I love the job, the position, the golf course. It really is a place I can see being at for a long time.”
During the winter months, Propp works at the Boulders Resort in Scottsdale as one of the professionals on staff.
“I’m up here [in Powell] April through October, then down in Scottsdale November through March,” he said.
Aside from studying to be an instructor, Propp also played competitively, kicking around the mini-tours and attending PGA tour qualifying school.
“When I started with the PGA program, my whole desire was to play,” he said. “But then my goal was to get my education and work on my game all the way through, play in as many tournaments as I could. Once I got that education, I went and played full-time for three years.”
His playing career found him playing mini-tours all over the country, eventually landing at tour school in Florida. He only attempted Q School once, and when he didn’t make the cut, he realized his true passion for the sport was in teaching it to others.
“During that three-year stretch of playing full time, I found out how much I really did like the lifestyle of just being at one club,” he explained. “When you’re traveling, at a different hotel every week, different site every week, it takes a toll. I really gravitated back to the club business, playing more in the PGA section events and having a weekly paycheck.”
Now fully ensconced in the business and teaching side of golf, Propp said the many facets of his position keep him constantly engaged.
“What I like about the golf business itself is there are so many facets of it,” he said. “Merchandising, teaching, just the day-to-day business. It’s such a people-person business, and I love all of it. Of course I really gravitate to the teaching side of golf, I’m very passionate about that. But I enjoy all of it.”
Watching a student hit a shot they’ve struggled with in the past, and seeing how they develop as a player are what Propp finds most gratifying.
“When you can make those adjustments in a player’s game, and see their immediate excitement in ‘Wow, there it is!’ that’s exciting.” he said.
As for life in Powell, Propp said the experience couldn’t be better. With a summer full of tournaments and a revamped summer youth golf program for kids in the area, things couldn’t be better at the PGC.
“I didn’t know what to think about Powell coming in,” he said. “A lot of people told me I was going to like it, but again, it was an unknown to me. But they were right. It is a great community. I love this area, it’s a great place to be.”
As for the course itself, Propp couldn’t hide his excitement of seeing it for the first time.
“I was so stunned at the golf course itself when I got here,” he said. “I didn’t know what to think, but after playing it, and I’ve played many courses in my lifetime, when I played the layout of this course, I thought, ‘Why are more people in Wyoming not talking about this course in Powell?’ The layout is fantastic.”
Propp praised the golf board for making his transition a smooth one, as well as Frank Blacker, the course superintendent.
“With his staff, and the budget they have to work on, they do an amazing job,” Propp said. “I think the things we’re doing out here, things like the junior program and all the tournaments, I’m hoping that people have a great experience out here and want to support the golf course. It’s a great amenity for this community. We want everyone to know that they are welcome out here.”