Club Caddie Founder and CEO Pearsall Preserves Historic Course, Fatherly Ties

   As seen in Golf Business November/December 2023   

By Scott Kauffman, Contributor, Golf Business


During a Dearborn Heights, Mich., city council meeting last October, after nearly 5 hours of serious and sometimes contentious public discussion ranging from policing to politics and other civic matters, course operator Jason Pearsall walked to the podium and introduced himself as the “golf guy” with the privilege of now running the city’s Warren Valley Golf Course.

He was the final public speaker that night, and as Pearsall put it, he didn’t come to the council meeting to talk about the much-improved course drainage and how the Detroit-area facility used to “shut down for three days every time it rained and now we’re open the next day.” And he wasn’t there to discuss how his team got the greens “rolling at 11” and the “top USGA sand being used” at the historic Donald Ross-designed layout that reopened in April after being closed for more than a year. 

“I had a nice meeting with Councilman Abdel-Hak,” Pearsall went on to say, “and he helped me to realize only 1 in 7 people use that golf course and while there may be 10,000 golfers, there’s still a community. So, I wanted to talk about the community and how it benefits from the golf course. Things we currently do … as far as the community impact.”

Pearsall emphasized these weren’t things he promised to change or implement, but golf initiatives his team already started since signing a long-term lease with the city and taking over the former 36-hole property that suffered years of neglect under previous third-party management.

Pearsall went on to describe the welcome mat extended to numerous area high schools, for example, including free memberships for both boys and girls. He cited Warren Valley’s relationship with First Tee of Greater Detroit and season-long junior camps they’re conducting, exposing the game and valuable life skills to a future generation that might not have had access otherwise.

And for families that perhaps can’t afford to send kids to camp, or seniors that can’t afford to play, don’t worry, he told the council he has free clinics for kids, free access to the practice facility (open to the public), and a special $5 rate for senior citizens. On several occasions, council members applauded Pearsall’s presentation and praised the efforts of their new course operator.

Indeed, like everything the soft-spoken Pearsall is known to do, whether it’s being a successful golf technology entrepreneur or serial course owner/operator, what’s paramount to Pearsall isn’t making a profit or always having a ‘what’s best for me’ attitude.

To Pearsall, embracing an enlightened approach to business, and life, for that matter, is what truly inspires and motivates this Michigan native. So, when it comes down to Warren Valley, Pearsall is forever mindful of what’s best for the greater community, or even the greater golf industry, an approach Pearsall consistently applies in his other golf role as founder and CEO of management software company Club Caddie.

For instance, under the leadership of Pearsall, Club Caddie is an avid sponsor at numerous national golf conferences and trade shows, and one of the more compelling aspects of the company is its customer-centric “Software for Life Policy,” a long-term commitment to continually enhance and develop product upgrades that best suit the future technology needs of each client’s facility – free of charge.

Admittedly, Pearsall will tell what Warren Valley is doing for Dearborn Heights is nothing unique from a golf operator’s perspective. Nevertheless, the industry’s philanthropic nature is something that needs to be told more frequently, he adds.

“This impact is a story we need to share,” Pearsall adds. “I just read an article in Yahoo and it’s trying to glorify that golf courses are closing and how nature is reclaiming green space and how great this is for communities. I think we need to be doing the opposite. We need to be saying how good golf courses are for communities because we just don’t do a good enough job highlighting that.

“There’s going to be a changing of the city council and I don’t know if they’re going to be supportive of the golf course or not, so I wanted to get ahead of that.”

To be sure, there is a personal agenda associated with running Wayne Valley, or Pearsall’s previous course ownership ties to another Michigan facility, Flushing Valley. 

Growing up in golf-rich Michigan, Pearsall was passionate about the sport and he can credit his father, a former country club manager, for sparking that passion. But it wasn’t through the most traditional father-son way.

“My parents divorced when I was young and my father moved two hours away, so I saw him during the summer times,” Pearsall says. “I fell in love with golf. The only time I would see him was when I went to work with him. I worked at the course. … you know the grunt jobs. But those were my best summers.”

For the other nine months of the year, however, Pearsall was back home with his single mother and frankly “couldn’t afford to play golf.” 

“I didn’t have access to golf,” Pearsall says. “It wasn’t accessible to me. I guess the only reason I had access to golf was because my father was in the business. Not because we could really afford it. With my mother, we just couldn’t afford it.”

Pearsall never forgot those painful personal memories of not being able to play a game he loved. And consequently, tries affecting the lives of others as much as possible at Warren Valley. 

There’s one other personal twist to the unexpected timing of jumping back into the course ownership business. Pearsall is reunited with his father, John Pearsall, spending more valuable time together back working on a golf course.

“My father worked for me at Flushing Valley, and he works for me now at Warren Valley,” Pearsall says with a glint of happiness. “He’s currently battling cancer and honestly doesn’t have a lot of time left. So this opportunity to do this together with him at Warren Valley has been a really special experience.” 

Ultimately that might be the greatest impact golf can ever leave for someone.

This article was featured in the November/December edition of Golf Business Magazine.


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