Crowley settling in as Portage Lake’s new general manager

Portage Lake Golf Course pro Erik Crowley poses at the golf course. Crowley, of Gladwin, took over as the course general manager and director of golf in April. (Eddie O’Neill/The Daily Mining Gazette)

HOUGHTON — While PGA-certified golf professional Erik Crowley has played some of the most prestigious holes of golf around the United States, he said there is nothing like playing a round of 18 holes in his home state of Michigan.

Crowley is the new general manager and director of golf at Michigan Tech’s Portage Lake Golf Course. He began the position in April after longtime manager Mark Maroste stepped down in December 2021.

“I’m very grateful, happy and fortunate that the position opened, and I was selected,” he said. “This is a wonderful community to be a part of.”

Crowley is from Gladwin, Michigan, and his wife is originally from Houghton. They met while she and her family moved to Gladwin during her high school years.

Crowley said he started playing golf when he was 12. At age 16, he began to take it a little more seriously as he was part of the maintenance crew at Sugar Springs Country Club in Gladwin.

“That was my summer job and continued to be so for a year or two into college,” said Crowley.

In 2014 he graduated from Ferris State University (Big Rapids, MI) with a BA in business and an emphasis in professional-golf management. He quickly headed out west to familiar territory.

He had interned at Rancho La Quinta Country Club in La Quinta, California and was then hired on as an assistant golf professional after graduation from Ferris State. He eventually became the first assistant golf professional in 2016.

“Rancho was a high-end country club and very welcoming,” said Crowley. “It was a wonderful experience as I was involved in all aspects of the golf club’s operations.”

In 2018 he and his wife, now with a baby boy, moved back to Michigan where he was the head golf professional at Treetops Resort in Gaylord.

“Again, this was a great job at a fantastic resort course where I taught (golf) and managed when and where I was needed,” he said. “It was lots of rounds of golf in a very busy atmosphere.”

However, while close, Gaylord was not the Upper Peninsula, and the Crowleys eventually made it back to the Copper Country in 2020 to be closer to his wife’s side of the family.

He landed a job in financial aid and admissions at MTU and eventually earned his MBA at Tech in June of this year. All the while, Crowley kept his golf game up to par and his PGA credentials active. He coached the Chassell boys’ golf team to a U.P. state-golf title in 2021.

“That was a great experience to be involved in golf but not in an administrative way,” he said.

With almost a full golf season at Portage under his belt, Crowley said he has inherited a well-oiled machine.

“My job as the golf pro here is to oversee all things golf,” he said. “That includes managing the golf-cart fleet to making sure our bar and grill is running smoothly as well as giving golf lessons to kids eight to eighty-years old.”

He said he gives around 10 hours a week in private lessons to more than 25 people.

While he enjoys the administrative side of the job, teaching the game of golf holds a special place in his heart.

“I like the interaction here at this course,” he said. “I get to do the business side of the job and be a teacher. There is nothing like being in the tee box giving a lesson and a light-bulb moment occurs with one of your students.”

Crowley said he has been very impressed with Portage Lake’s summer league programs. The course hosts a junior league for kids, a lady’s league (24 members) and a men’s league (120 members). According to him, the junior league was once again particularly robust this summer with around 80 kids ages 5-12 participating.

“We had 55 kids in the younger bracket (ages 5-12) and another 25 or so in the teen or high school age group meet every week for instruction and play. Those are incredible numbers for a junior-golf program. Any facility would be proud to have 80 kids in their youth program.”

With all of this in mind, Crowley hopes to continue to grow what has already been planted at Portage.

“I would like to bring on another PGA industry professional to have in the building,” he said. “As well, I want to recruit more women for our ladies league and better market our clubhouse facilities as they are open for rent for parties or gatherings all year round.”

“The facility and the people here have been nothing but welcoming these last few months,” he said. “It’s been a wonderful place to be.”


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