Written by The Business Journal Staff
Jim Perez, Owner
Bluff Pointe Golf Course
What we do:
Bluff Pointe Golf Course and Learning Center is one of the best and friendliest places in the Central Valley to practice and play golf. We have built a 9-hole course and a short game practice facility for all to learn, with a great coaching staff in place to help.
Graduate of Sanger High and Reedley College where I started playing golf as a beginner. Attended Fresno State where I began coaching golf; attended and received Teachers Certification from the United States Golf Teachers Federation (USGTF): attended and received Teachers and Masters Certification from the Masters Golf Teachers Course; became a certification course instructor for the USGTF.
Two daughters Jessica and Jennifer and three beautiful granddaughters Kayleigh, Allison and Zoe.
You’ve been teaching golf for nearly 35 years. Tell us a little about what brought you and kept you in the sport, Jim.
Sports were very important to me growing up. I participated in everything including football, basketball, track, and tennis, but hitting a golf ball was it. There is nothing like the feeling of hitting a ball crisp and solid — you hit one good shot and you’re hooked. The challenge of golfing was the other thing that just grabbed me — creating and figuring out the shot at hand is a huge part of the love I have for the game.
What is your vision for the Bluff Pointe Golf Course, Jim?
My vision started with renovating the old course from a 5-hole to a 9-hole course. I wanted an executive course with drivable par-4s, some very scenic par 3s, and different lengths. There are 4 teeing areas on each hole and the shortest are called the fun tees. Our new short game facility is one of the best, offering 6 bunkers and up to a 60-yard approach shot length. We have a putting green that is approximately 4,000 square feet. There is enough room for all with subtle breaks.
We’re having a grand opening celebration on September 27th from 10am-3pm, and the public is invited to attend. Buffalo Wild Wings will be serving free food, along with other restaurants. All of the major golf vendors like Callaway, TaylorMade, and more will be there as well. We’ll also have a shuttle service for people after they park.
How have players responded to the changes over there, Jim?
We are getting great responses with people saying that the opportunity to make a par or a birdie is so much more fun, it’s an awesome challenge trying to hit over the edge of the lake, and the shorter lengths of holes are more fun. It’s great still being able to use your driver on 4 of the par 4s, or if you want more of a challenge, you can play them from the back tees as par 3s. The longest par-4 is a 330-yard dogleg right around water. The short game facility has an American flag on a 40-foot pole for our veterans.
How would you describe the golf scene in Fresno, Jim?
We love golf here in Fresno, and we are so fortunate that the weather is pretty good all year. We have great kids and adults playing at the first tee level and middle, high school and college level players. We have golf events for Executive Women’s Golf Association and the SIRs group. There are plenty of places to play. We have some great tour players that came out of Fresno like Nick Watney, Kevin Chappell, Derek Ernst, Kevin Sutherland and Joan Pitcock.
How did the economic downturn impact golf, Jim? Have things improved?
The economic downturn was extremely hard on our local golf courses. Public courses were selling themselves on different discounted media like Facebook and GolfNow.com, country club memberships were offering free sign ups and just monthly memberships, and some pros were leaving the industry for lack of lessons. Luckily for me, I was able to withstand the downturn because of my loyal students and friends that continued to preserve, and I’m grateful for that.
Things have now improved, and I have seen a huge turn around with people buying golf equipment, rounds of golf, and especially the new interest in lessons. My business partner Kevin Cameron and I decided to invest in an awesome piece of property and have begun the effort to create something special in Bluff Pointe. We’ve already done a lot in a short period of time.
What’s your advice for people out there interested in becoming professional golfers, Jim?
There are two different ways you can do this. If you want to be a club pro running a pro shop, you go through the PGA of America, and they expect you to go to school as if you’re attending university, and it takes 4-6 years. If you already love golf and want to teach, you can go through the US Golf Teachers Federation, which offers 1-week courses where you’ll have to pass oral, written, and playing ability tests and demonstrate that you can play well and teach.
I say go for it! I highly recommend doing what you love, and if you have a passion for it, you will be successful. I decided to turn Pro in 1994, and am doing something that I love.
What is the best advice you ever received, Jim?
I remember in the 8th grade, after track practice going into the office of my PE coach Bob Gillies. I put my track shoes on his desk and told him I was quitting because I was the slowest on the team, I couldn’t long jump very far and my triple jump was short. He looked at me and said, “If you quit this you will probably quit everything you do…” Wow, that scared me so much that I just picked up my shoes and continued to get better. I finished the next race 8th out of 30 kids, and found out that I was a very good long distance runner. I often think of his statement to keep pushing onward.
What was your very first job and what did you learn from it, Jim?
I worked at Kellner Lumber Yard on Weber Avenue, where I cut, stacked, and moved lumber. The key things I learned at a young age was the importance of being responsible, teamwork and getting a project done on time. I also learned to always be early or on time, which is something that I live by now.
What do you like to do in your spare time, Jim?
Besides playing golf, I enjoy fishing, writing and going to the mountains and the ocean. I also like tooling a piece of leather and watching a great movie.