This week we chat with David Kupstas, club manager at the Tampa Palms Golf and Country Club, 5811 Tampa Palms Blvd. He is leading the club's investment in a more than $2 million capital improvement project at the club. About half of the money is being used to refresh the landscaping, including adding trees and resurfacing the golf paths. The other $1 million covers construction cost to remodel the clubhouse's interior space.
Kupstas, 48, has managed the club since 2009, He likened the improvements to a reinvention rather than a renovation. It aims to become more family friendly to attract a more diverse clientele.
Q: What is it like to manage one of the premier golf clubs in the area?
Answer: It is one of the greatest jobs in the hospitality business. Unlike other hotel, resort or restaurant careers, managing a private club gives you the opportunity to really get to know your members and be able to personalize your service by providing that "home away from home" experience, thereby reinforcing their decision to join (the club). In addition, it is very satisfying to know that the club is such a key part of the community and a point of pride for all of Tampa Palms residents.
Q: How did you get the job?
Answer: While attending college at the University of Houston, I started bussing and waiting tables at Kingwood Country Club north of Houston. I have been with ClubCorp ever since. Over the past 31 years I have worked across the country in both the business and sports division as well as the golf and country club division. During my time with the company I have held numerous positions including 10 years as a regional food and beverage director for ClubCorp before becoming the club manager for Tampa Palms. (Kingwood Country Club is a ClubCorp property.)
Q: You have talked about the importance of Tampa Palms Golf and Country Club being accessible to as many people as possible. Are there plans in the works for the golf club to appeal to more people?
Answer: Not only are plans in the works, plans are almost complete. We are in the process of reinventing the country club lifestyle to appeal to a more diverse and more 21st-century demographic. This is not your parents' country club! With programming to capture every segment, Tampa Palms offers something for everyone. From complimentary golf and tennis clinics to year-round junior, ladies and couples events and activities, the club is poised to be the recreational outlet for its members at an extremely affordable price. Our activities calendar rivals that of any major cruise ship. (Information about club membership is available at www.tampa-palmscc.com)
Q: The club also is undergoing a major renovation and improvement project. How much is being invested, and what improvements are being made?
Answer: The reinvention of the club is a continual process. Over the past two years, with the latest $1.3 million clubhouse renovation, we will have invested more than $2 million in the club at no cost to the members. The latest improvements include a complete reinvention of our member dining areas to include expanded outdoor patio dining, including fire pits, renovated lobby and entrance, and an expanded dining room, including media areas as well as a very cool bar and lounge area. The restaurant is going to be named Elements, and it's going to be spectacular.
Q: If you could put together a dream-team foursome, who would the other three players be besides yourself? And why those players?
Answer: Bobby Jones: American Golf hero who garnered the initial Grand Slam and had the foresight to start Augusta National and the Masters. Arnold Palmer: Made golf cool as he was America's first celebrity TV golfer. To this day he never turns down an autograph request. And Jack Nicklaus: Greatest professional golfer of all time with 18 majors (tournament wins) and an amazing 19 second-place finishes in majors.
- Kenneth Knight