Golf professional Tim Beckwith used travel as teaching to widen the world of his son.
It was a pivotal moment for golf professional Tim Beckwith: an opportunity to take his teaching talents to an international base. Beckwith could see his future at a young age.
He knew, even as a teenager, he wanted to become a PGA Master Professional – a status level he achieved through an intense focus on extensive education and proficient performance. But Beckwith, born in Michigan, didn’t see the next curveball coming when he was invited, at age 20, to take travel to Norway to teach.
“It was terrifying to me and overwhelming to me…so I turned it down,” he admitted.
Beckwith, at the time, apparently wasn’t ready to experience another culture, lifestyle, and language despite an associate degree in communications.
Instead, as one of only 400 PGA Master Professionals in the world, he made his way through golf gigs in Orlando, Clearwater, Chicago and Nashville leading Beckwith to his current position as director of golf at The Oaks Club in Sarasota, Florida.
But the next twist in his life’s road launched him into a life of travel: becoming a husband and a father to his wife Jill and their son Jackson.
“The license plate on my car reads ‘Jack and Jill,’” he even reveals. Wheels and wings came from that marriage. “In 2010 my in-laws put together a magnificent family trip that was beyond wonderful.”
This time, after saying “I do” to Jill, Beckwith said “yes” to travel.
“In 2010 my in-laws put together a magnificent family trip that was beyond wonderful,” Beckwith reveals. On that extended vacation he encountered multiple cultures and languages. “The trip they arranged took seven of us to London, then Paris, then Rome for a couple days…followed by Florence.”
And it didn’t stop there.
“Then, if you can believe it, we all hopped onto a Mediterranean cruise. My in-laws are as kind and generous as anyone can be. I saw so much more on that trip than I ever dreamed I would see.”
And with that, the man who’d earlier in his life been too intimidated to take a job in Norway was bitten by the travel bug.
“That trip turned into such a cultural experience that we started going to Europe every other summer. Austria is next on our list, but so far, we’ve been to Ireland, Northern Ireland, and back to Italy because we love Florence – the people and the wine and the food are special. My son loves the pizza.”
Beckwith’s son Jack was two-years-old on the initial European trip. He is very happy that Jack, when he grows up, may choose to be more adventurous than he was.
“When he becomes an adult Jackson will not be afraid to hop onto a plane and go into another culture because it will be more in his comfort zone than it was mine. Now at age 12, he’s learned a lot about different cultures and been able to see how fortunate we are to have been able to go over to Europe even once. Jackson is one of the kindest, most thoughtful people I have ever known.”
Beckwith credits his wife Jill for the way she treats Jack and him. “I don’t have a dream destination because I have now been able to go to Alaska, Ireland and the Mediterranean – all of those thanks to my wife. If I happen to even mention something, she makes it happen.”
Comfort and Kindness in Ireland
The Beckwith family discovered Ireland to be a dreamy destination. “The people of Ireland are unbelievably kind. They welcome Americans with open arms,” said Beckwith. The hearts of golfers are frequently captured by Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Beckwith recalled fondly a few of his favorite golf courses. “The Old Head of Kinsale, is, in golf terms, the most beautiful piece of golf property on this earth. My father-in-law and I played there. I also took some members of The Oaks Club to Royal County Down Golf Club in Newcastle, Northern Ireland – arguably my favorite golf course in the world. It’s beyond spectacular. Just the feeling of being on those grounds was spectacular. It’s right on the Irish Sea.”
Beckwith confessed to another reason he loved playing golf at Royal County Down.
“I hit my shot to an inch of the first hole and made a birdie…You tend to like places you play well.”
For a domestic “touch of Ireland” trip, Beckwith is leading a tour of 15 members of The Oaks Club to Whistling Straits in Wisconsin – the luxury golf resort with the Straits Course and Irish Course abutting Lake Michigan much like the courses in Ireland collide with the sea.
The PGA Championship has been played on the Straits course and the Ryder Cup is scheduled there for September of 2021. Pete Dye also designed the Blackwolf Run golf courses there which are part of the overall Destination Kohler just north of Milwaukee, which includes the American Club.
“They’re looking forward to it,” he said. “It’s a magnificent venue and a great golf course. Mr. Dye’s golf course architecture work there is very special.”
The Oaks Club in Sarasota
Dye, the late, legendary golf course architect from the Midwest was a colleague of Arthur Hills, also a Hall of Fame Architect who, in 2006, along with his partner Steve Forrest, redesigned the Eagle Course – one of two 18-hole tracks at The Oaks Club, in Sarasota, where Beckwith serves as director of golf.
“They did a magnificent job. It’s a wonderful golf course,” said Beckwith, who, like Dye and Hills, was born and raised in the Midwest – in his case, Detroit and Northern Michigan.
“If you can spend some of your time in Michigan – it’s an unbelievably beautiful state. I used to have a place on Stylus Lake in Hale, Michigan – there are about 12 people who know where that is. And I grew up skiing on Clear Lake in West Branch. The land and golf courses in Michigan are so beautiful. Arthur Hills definitely left his footprint in Michigan with plenty of great courses he and Steve Forrest designed up there, but in my opinion its more difficult to build a great course in Florida because it’s relatively flat and you have to be more of an artist and more creative. He definitely did that here at The Oaks Club. If our members bring guests, they definitely take them on the Eagle course.”
Beckwith is very happy in Sarasota, too. “I have been lucky enough to fall into a wonderful place with a great staff. They have enabled me to assume more PGA leadership roles.”
The Oaks Club prides itself on offering a way of life that makes vacations redundant.
Paying it Forward
Beckwith has a desire to enable others, too, so he authored a book in 2011 called “The Front Nine.”
“I wanted to write a book about instruction but I decided to create something about life lessons so it’s about my son. When he and other kids read my book, they will hopefully come to understand that mistakes can be made in life…but its not about the mistakes it’s about how you handle them.”
“The Front Nine” offers nine chapters of life advice and golf tips, too.
As for more travel advice? Those who visit Sarasota, to experience a touch of Europe, might consider the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. It’s a Bayfront, U-shaped pink palace surrounding gardens and sculptures and housing a treasure trove of prized paintings by the classical masters. For Beckwith, a touch of his beloved Palazzo Vecchio, in Florence, Italy is on display in the form of a replica of Michelangelo’s “David.”
“It’s something everybody should see. If you don’t go there, you’re mismanaging your time,” he said.