Scrapping For Dollars
“Working for a non-profit, you have to fight for every dollar,” Tony Frandria says.
Frandria is the superintendent at Odyssey Golf Foundation Golf Course, which is owned and operated by Odyssey Golf Foundation in Tinley Park, Illinois. At this public property, veterans and active-duty service members receive discounted rates, access to beneficial programs and free instruction. Better still, they are embraced by a supportive staff.
“Across the board, our employees believe in and consistently contribute to this worthy cause,” says director of golf Mike Hainline, who works closely with Frandria to raise funds, adding another dimension to their responsibilities.
“Not-for-profit golf operations need individuals and groups who are willing to be supportive,” Frandria says.
Hosting approximately 23,000 rounds in 2023, the staff strives to offer “golf for the greater good.” Hainline’s father, a Korean War veteran, passed away just as he was starting his work with Odyssey. “I regret that he wasn’t able to see the course and what I do for our cause,” Hainline says. “Tony and I have partnered to bring Odyssey to levels that I wasn’t sure were possible. Not only for the course but with fundraising. Our positions are different than what most golf professionals and superintendents experience. Our operation is unique, including applying for grants and partnering with other foundations, such as Folds of Honor, to help keep us going.”
For most people, Frandria feels “the fundamental role of a superintendent hasn’t changed much. We still create the best playing surfaces we can. Environmental stewardship has become more visible and better understood so we use organic-based fertilizers and strive to reduce pesticides and water use.”
Odyssey Golf Foundation exists to help people experience the physical and mental benefits of golf. “We have Purple Heart recipients and decorated soldiers who utilize our facility and programs therapeutically,” Hainline says.
In addition to providing terrific conditions throughout the par-72 course and helping fundraise, Frandria’s responsibilities include recruiting, training and retaining quality staff, developing plans for course and infrastructure improvements, and formulating a realistic budget.
Having experience as the general manager at a different non-profit property, Frandria has encouraging contacts. He knows some positions are more administrative than others and is grateful to spend time on the course. “I work alongside the turf team and I’m not buried in meetings,” Frandria says. “I’d rather be hands-on. I love being out there with them.”
Hainline and Frandria have found fulfillment in their careers. “At some places, you need a strong backbone because criticism is a major aspect of the job,” Frandria says. “For those who take that road, on-the-job training at similar facilities is essential for survival once you are in charge. The pressure can be intense and sometimes overwhelming.”
A countermeasure to that pressure is the confidence to recognize that a superintendent’s responsibilities cannot be narrowly defined. For instance, in addition to maintaining the course, you may be a mentor. Frandria has two college students on his crew who are studying turf and a high school student interested in becoming a superintendent. “I’m fortunate to be a mentor,” he says. “It’s very rewarding.”
You create an atmosphere where the team can thrive. People visit the property where you work so they can benefit physically and mentally, and the conditions on course help drive revenue. Believe in and value those truths.
People in the Odyssey Golf Foundation community are grateful. “The internet and social media have changed the perception of our position,” Frandria says. “People can see what we do. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.”
— Lee Carr
Odyssey in the Community
In November, Odyssey Golf Foundation was recognized by the Victor J. Andrew High School National Honors Society for making a positive impact on the Tinley Park community as well as Andrew High School. The Society noted Odyssey’s programs for local veterans including free lessons and greatly subsidized golf league and events. The award also thanked Odyssey for its partnership with Andrew High School including being their teams’ practice course and creating opportunities for students to learn, work and give back to the community.