Meet our General Manager
We sat down with our newly appointed General Manager, Zac Keener, and asked him a few questions for everyone to get to know him and know some of the behind the scenes here at Chambers Bay. Here’s what we asked and what he said:
How long have you worked here at Chambers Bay?
ZK: I was hired in May of 2007, so 12 years. I started as a golf shop assistant and worked my way up from there. I became the Assistant Golf Professional, then 1st Assistant Golf Professional added tournament director responsibilities shortly thereafter. The next promotion is one that I would give back in a second if it brought back who I replaced. Jamie Fay who was a great friend and mentor of mine passed away in a tragic accident in August of 2015. During that time we worked together as a team to pick up the pieces and move forward. I transitioned to the Sales and Marketing Manager role during that time. A little further down the road as our General Manager at the time, Matt Allen began to expand his role to support other facilities in the region, I began to take on a larger leadership position at Chambers Bay leading to the addition of the Assistant General Manager title. Matt was then promoted to Vice President of Operations within KemperSports overseeing the Pacific Northwest. I moved from the acting GM role to the full responsibility in early 2019. I am thankful for the support and tutelage of the team which has allowed me to make it where I am today.
What drew you to Chambers Bay in the first place?
ZK: A random coincidence, my step-brother was applying for the chef position and I was home on Spring break from Washington State University but had worked at Gold Mountain for a few summers and had grown to love the golf industry; he mentioned to me “hey I am going to this interview, you should come with, this place is going to be really cool, you should come check it out” so I rode along with him with no intention of job searching, I didn’t even have the right clothes on, I had to borrow a pair of shoes because all I brought were sandals. It was very informal, and I was looking to kill some time while he interviewed. I will never forget walking through the parking lot and standing at the fence by the clubhouse and looking over the golf course for the first time. I was blown away! I went into an empty clubhouse and ended up talking with Brent [Zepp] and Nicholas [Pike] who had already started. We sat down and had a 10-minute interview and I knew I had to be a part of this team.
What is your favorite of your new role?
ZK: My favorite part of the new role I think is being able to be a leader to the team and watching them succeed. As you work your way up in golf you get lots of different experiences on the front line. I believe it is important to keep these experiences in mind when working with the team to provide feedback or strategy. It is a very busy, albeit chaotic work environment at times but I have learned to embrace that.
Can you think of a moment that sticks out to you in your time here?
ZK: The Championships are the big ones for sure, those are what get you to stick around when you’re young. But cool memory was Feb or 2008 and our GM at the time [Joe Wisocki] pulled Brent and I aside and he’s got this giddy, childish, grin on his face and he told us that we were going to get the U.S. Amateur and the U.S. Open Championships. And they were going to announce it in the following days. The funny part of the story for me is that I didn’t hear the U.S. Open part, I only heard the U.S. Amateur part. So, I was excited about that, but when the press release came out, I realized that I missed the biggest part of that story! Overall, it was such a good experience and to be a part of both Championships is awesome.
What is your favorite hole here?
ZK: My favorite hole is 10, although it is definitely not the hole I play the best on. 10 for me is just a strong links golf hole, I love the framing around the putting surface, I think it is one of the more unique visuals. And when you walk down that hole at sunset, the shadows are really cool.
ZK: Probably 8. While it is good to have a long par 5 that balances the front nine, it is just a hole that messes with my eye because the fairway is huge but because of the massive dune on the left just pushes you further right than you need to go. That said, 8 has a cool, crazy, putting surface so that is one of my favorites to pick hole locations for the tournament set up.
ZK: I think 1 or 2 over? I tend to stick with match play.*
What can we find you doing when you aren’t at work or playing golf?
ZK: Well for the last year and a half it has been working on my house. My wife and I took on a fixer-upper so there are lots of home renovation projects and we always feel like we are in the middle of something. God bless her and her patience with me, neither of us are trained to do anything so it’s a lot of YouTube videos on home renovations, a lot of online reading and research. And then, of course, hanging out with my kiddo, he’s is a fun mix of high-energy and high-emotion. There is never a dull moment.
We hoped you enjoyed this insight to part of our team here at Chambers Bay, stay tuned for the next staff member feature!
*the interviewer gave him a hard time for not knowing exactly what his best score is out at his home course. GHIN records show a 71 from the sand tees.