Posted 03/08/2023By Susan Thompson Lake Panorama Times
Rob Riggins has started his third year as the Lake Panorama National Resort head golf pro. He moved from California to Iowa in 2012 and was the general manager and director of golf instruction at Jester Park for four years before moving to the Des Moines Golf and Country Club. There he was a golf professional, tournament director and golf instructor for nearly three years, before taking the LPN job in February 2021.
In this month’s Q&A, Riggins looks back at his first two years at Lake Panorama and ahead to the 2023 golf season.Q. You’re entering your third year as the LPN head golf professional. What do you like about being here?
A. The main attractions for me are the people and the relationships. The feeling I get around the lake is everyone is one big family. I really like that atmosphere. I love getting to know the members and connecting with everybody. And I love being involved with a facility people care about. “Lake life” is a real thing, and I’m looking forward to more of that this year.Q. How are 2023 memberships at the LPN and Panorama West coming in, and why should people consider getting a season pass to one or both of these golf courses?
A. Right now, memberships are down a little from last year, but that seems to be due to the discontinuance of the early incentives to join before the end of January. I would expect past members will be joining as we get more stability with the weather, and we can start playing.
We are looking to push the growth of the “first time” memberships this season. As the surrounding areas grow, people are moving closer to us, and looking for places to play golf. We also want to grow the membership from within the lake residents, since we know new people have joined the community in the last year, and there may be some newly retired residents who now have more time to play golf.
Lake Panorama National Resort and Panorama West are both great bargains when it comes to a place to join. Season passes at either course gives you unlimited golf on the course you join. It also gives you unlimited practice range use and 20% off apparel in the LPN pro shop. LPN members also have access to play in some member-only events we have planned in 2023 and can participate in the LPN men’s and women’s leagues.
There truly is a golf membership to suit anyone, available to both LPA and non-LPA members. Membership applications are in the LPN pro shop, or you can check out the options at www.lakepanoramanational.com/season-passes
.Q. It seems there are lots of opportunities to get to know others through organized golf events. For instance, what’s available for couples who want to play golf with others?
A. Couples golf has always been a tricky area. Many people have a misconception that couples’ events are very competitive, and they think they are not good enough to participate. I strongly encourage couples to come out and try some of the many opportunities offered, as these are a great way to socialize and create and build friendships. The team format eliminates much of the pressure felt when keeping your own score.
The Nine & Wine Series at the LPN is a good example. I love the growth of the Nine and Wine group over the last few years; everyone seems to have a great time. Dates this year include eight Monday afternoons: June 5 and 26; July 10, 24 and 31; and Aug. 7, 14 and 28. Cost is $110 for LPN member couples and $220 for Panorama West member couples. Check in at 3 p.m. with a 3:30 p.m. tee off. The format is a nine-hole, four-person, two-couple best shot, with teams assigned each week by a blind draw. There are weekly prizes and season-ending champions. After play, the couples enjoy wine and food specials in The Links Lounge. Get signed up by contacting the LPN pro shop at 641-755-2024.
At Panorama West, Bill and Karen Eby organize the “Fore Fun Friday Couples” competitions.
These two-couple scrambles will be June 2, June 23, July 14, July 28, Aug. 11 and Aug. 25. Play begins at 5 p.m. Registration begins at 4:30 p.m. with couples asked to arrive early to learn about that week’s event, get hole assignments, and pay the $1 per couple entry fee. Those who aren’t Panorama West annual golf members also will need to pay green fees. Entry fees are returned as prize money as players gather on the deck after the round. For more information, contact the Ebys at 515-480-4633.
At the LPN, there will be Friday night couples’ events May 19, June 23, July 21 and Sept. 8. Tournaments just for couples are the Memorial Day tournament on Sunday, May 28, Fourth of July, and the 23rd annual Labor Day Birdhouse Boogie.Q. There are four golf leagues at the LPN and three at Panorama West. Why do you encourage members to consider playing in one or more of the golf leagues available?
A. Golf, just like anything else, has a growth progression. The more you play, the more you need to challenge yourself. Participating in leagues can be more challenging than just teeing it up with your friends on the weekend. That is not to say our leagues are ultra-competitive, but to say it is a way to get a little bit out of your comfort zone and develop golf skills you might not normally. Plus, playing in leagues is a great opportunity to meet new people, no matter what a player’s skill level is.Q. I assume you have a full slate of tournaments at Lake Panorama National again for 2023. How can people find out what’s available?
A. We conduct about 20 golf events each season at Lake Panorama National. The first main tournament for 2023 will be an 8-inch cup event held Sunday, April 23. We are in the process of getting all of our 2023 events listed on the Lake Panorama website, and entry forms for all events can be picked up in the pro shop. Feel free to call the LPN Pro shop at 641-755-2024 with any questions. I encourage everyone to look into our tournaments. Being a member is not necessary to participate in most of the four-person best shots we hold throughout the season.Q. Will you be holding an LPN Junior Golf School again this year?
A. Yes, we will have two separate schools, each consisting of three consecutive Wednesdays with one and a half hours of instruction. The dates are June 7, 14 and 21 for the first session, and July 12, 19 and 26 for the second session.
The last day of each camp will be held at Panorama West, which is Lake Panorama’s par 3 course on the west side of the lake. This gives the kids a perfect environment for learning how to actually play the game. The first two days mainly consist of fundamental instruction at the LPN driving range and practice green.
The biggest challenge in youth golf instruction is keeping everyone interested, and we are developing strategies to improve the balance between the instruction and entertainment. Positive influences early can really create enthusiasm for development later. It is important to make it fun while also teaching.Q. Will you be offering individual and group lessons in 2023?
A. One of my personal goals for this year is to be able to focus more time on instruction. While private instruction is always available, group lessons are a great way to get started.
I do have group lessons scheduled for three Saturdays this spring. The dates are April 29, May 6 and May 13. Group lessons for beginners will be at 12 p.m., and group sessions just for women at 2 p.m. The price for three sessions in either of these groups is $70. Call the pro shop at 641-755-2024 to get signed up.
In addition, I will be organizing a “get to know golf” session for Saturday, May 27. This will be a free class to any non-LPN member who owns property at Lake Panorama. This season, I really want to show LPA members who aren’t LPN golf members what a great facility Lake Panorama National Resort truly is. This “get to know golf” session should be a good way to do that.
Private lessons can be booked with me directly or by calling the golf shop and signing up for a lesson request. Lessons can work in many different ways. Some like very technical instruction and do well with that while others would just like to “chit chat” about golf subtleties. Either way is a great way to learn, and I am not one to push anything on anyone. I try to figure out the best approach for each lesson and take it from there. We also can work on any aspect of golf, even out on the course.Q. I know having quality items for both men and women in the LPN pro shop is a goal of yours. What can we expect for merchandise in the pro shop for the 2023 season?
A. Golf merchandise seems to be changing faster and faster every season. It is important to keep some great choices in the pro shop and mix them up from year to year. We will again have a wide selection of clothing for both men and women.
Also, Titleist and TaylorMade have both launched new equipment for 2023, and we will carry both lines. Titleist also has updated their golf balls for 2023.
All golf members at both LPN and Panorama West receive 20% discounts on apparel in the pro shop. I also would like to emphasize we can order just about anything. If there is something you want and we do not have it in your size, or even if it is a from a product line we do not normally carry, let me or Mike Kleinwolterink, the LPN pro shop manager, know and we can get it ordered.Q. What has you excited about getting the 2023 golf season started?
A. I am excited there is a new tenant for The Links Lounge so we can get back to offering a consistent food and beverage service for our guests. It helps the golf side more than people might think.
The last of our new fleet of golf carts showed up this winter. The carts are great, and I hope our players enjoy the GPS on them.
I also am excited just to get another season at Lake Panorama started. I have enjoyed the first couple seasons and look forward to seeing LPN grow into what I believe it can be. This area and the LPN and Panorama West golf courses are spectacular. With the growing population of surrounding areas, I want these courses thriving again, and I think we are headed in the right direction.