FROM FELLING TREES TO CONQUERING GREENS

June 27, 2003 12:00 am
TOOLS OF THE TRADE: Buffalo Peak Assistant Golf Pro Scott Marcum has traded his chainsaw for golf clubs in his new career. (The Observer/PIERRE LaBOSSIERE).
TOOLS OF THE TRADE: Buffalo Peak Assistant Golf Pro Scott Marcum has traded his chainsaw for golf clubs in his new career. (The Observer/PIERRE LaBOSSIERE).

By Pierre LaBossire

Observer Staff Writer

Scott Marcum had seen too many old-timers stay in the logging business too long.

It's tough work, and it slowly breaks down a person's bones and muscles over the years.

So, many years ago, Marcum, of Enterprise, promised his wife Sylvia that "when I turn 40, I'm going to get out of logging."

Marcum stuck to that promise. He didn't go into insurance or sales or some other desk gig. He traded his chainsaw for a set of golf clubs.

This spring, Marcum completed an 18-month professional golf management program at Walla Walla Community College. After serving a six-month internship last year, he's now the assistant golf pro at Buffalo Peak Golf Course.

Marcum, 42, explained that he got married shortly after graduating from high school and began a family young. He had always liked golfing, but he had a family to provide for. So, into the woods he went to log.

He said tree felling was exciting and he loved it when he was younger, but he also said it's one of the most dangerous professions a person can have. In fact, he's lost one friend to a logging accident.

"My family wanted me to get out of it. I could feel it beginning to break down my body.

"I didn't want to be broken down in my later years. I've seen some older guys who stayed in it too long. I didn't want to be one of those guys," Marcum said.

When Marcum decided that it was time to change professions, he knew someone who had gone into golf management. So, he started looking into that as his second career.

"I loved golf so much, I decided to just dive into it and do it. I didn't just want a job, I wanted a career," he said.

Marcum enrolled in the program in Walla Walla, and it was a bit of a culture shock at first. He was 40 when he started taking classes, and the rest of his classmates were all between 18 and 26. Their goals were different. A lot of them were taking the classes so they could play golf.

Marcum had played in plenty of golf tournaments in his time, including the annual Elks Tournament in Enterprise. He had a more serious ambition. "I was there to learn about the business," he said.

Marcum said being a golf instructor is nowhere near as physically difficult as felling trees, but it is real work — harder work than a lot of people might realize. There's a myriad of chores around Buffalo Peak he has to do every day, and he has to deal with clients and students all day long. He doesn't get to play in too many tournaments anymore because he's too busy working.

"It can be a tough job. There are some days I leave here totally exhausted," he said.

Marcum deals with the whole range of students, from novices picking up a golf club for the first time to experienced golfers who are trying to refine their games.

"Some of the beginners, you're trying to teach them basic fundamentals such as just hitting the ball. (More experienced students) are looking to find out why they slice. We break their swing down and get them hitting the ball better," he said.

Enterprise has a strong golf heritage with several high school state championships including a boys title this year. Marcum is establishing a golf legacy in his own family. He helped give instruction to his daughter, Tasha, who went on to golf at Walla Walla Community College. His younger daughter, Jessica, is a member of the girls team at Enterprise High School, and he's helped out with her team from time to time.

For now, Marcum is living at a trailer near the golf course in Union, and commutes back to Enterprise on his days off.

Marcum said he loves the work so far. "I enjoy the people part of it. I love giving golf instruction. It's really self-fulfilling," he said. In a way, he can't believe he's actually being paid for doing something he loves so much.

"I feel semi-retired. I'm at a golf course all the time," he said.