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CCR general manager leaving for Nantucket club

Rochester Business Journal
June 27, 2014

Albert Antonez spent 13 years  at the Country Club of Rochester; the board has hired a search firm to find his replacement. (Photo by Kimberly McKinzie)

Albert Antonez, general manager and chief operating officer at the Country Club of Rochester, leaves today after 13 years to become general manager at Sankaty Head Golf Club on Nantucket Island.

“I leave Saturday and start Saturday night,” Antonez said this week.

His wife and daughter, who just completed her junior year at Allendale Columbia School, will stay in the family home in Brighton.

“Our daughter still has one year left in school,” Antonez said. “She’s going to finish up at Allendale Columbia. There’s still some wrapping up to do over the next year. There will be some back and forth while we wrap up. It’s mostly going to be my wife wrapping up.”

CCR’s board of stewards has hired a private club executive search firm, Kopplin & Kuebler, to find a replacement for Antonez, board president Mark Murphy said.

“We’re working with them and have been extremely impressed with the caliber of candidates we’ve received so far,” he said.

The board expects to decide on its next general manager and chief operating officer by the end of July, Murphy said, and is hoping for a September or October start.

“We’ve all acknowledged there’s no replacing Al, and the club is a different place than it was when he came here,” Murphy said. “We’re not necessarily looking to clone Al. We’re looking for somebody that can pick up where he left off and take us to an even higher level.”

Antonez, 53, came to CCR in 2001 after more than four years as general manager at the Redding Country Club in his hometown of Redding, Conn. He departs for one of the few places that could draw him away from Rochester.

“I first visited the isle in 1975 and fell in love with the golf course on, by chance, a bike trip around the island,” Antonez said. “So it’s something that’s been in the back of my mind for almost 40 years.”

Sankaty Head’s general manager is retiring after 25 years there. Antonez informed the board of his decision in March.

“It was an opportunity too unique to pass up,” Antonez said.

He likens it to the movie “Brigadoon,” named for a fictional village that appears for one day every 100 years so as to not be changed by the outside world.

“The opportunity opens up and you get a chance to take advantage of it or not,” he said.

“Rochester has been wonderful. It’s been a great place to raise our family, and it’s been an honor to work at the Country Club of Rochester. It’s truly one of the best clubs in America. I think this one is as well. It’s just a little different. If it wasn’t for this particular club, we would’ve stayed here indefinitely.”

Sankaty Head was designed in 1923 on the eastern tip of Nantucket in Siasconset, Mass. The links-style course lies next to Sankaty Hill Light, a lighthouse built 70 feet high in 1850 that shines over the course and the Atlantic Ocean.

The par-72 private club plays 6,711 yards from its longest tees. It is open to the public from October through May.

“It’s a great links course and a real challenging course on a gorgeous piece of property,” Antonez said.

“It’s a bit smaller (than CCR), and it’s primarily a seasonal opportunity. There are year-round duties, but due to the nature of the island there really isn’t a winter season.”

Antonez played golf for Joel Barlow High School in Redding and captained the golf team at Skidmore College, graduating in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in government.

He became general manager at Redding Country Club in May 1996.

“We even used to play our high school matches on the course,” Antonez said. “I returned there to have an opportunity to work at a course that I had fond memories of growing up. It was more a club in the country than a country club.

“I had grown up in that town and spent 18 years there. We probably could’ve stayed there longer as well.”

CCR, however, lured him away.

“This club was such a special opportunity to come to Rochester,” Antonez said. “We wouldn’t have moved here for any other club in the Rochester community. It was that club, its history, the quality of the membership and the opportunity to work at such a wonderful facility.

“There is so much to do in Rochester that it sort of made it easier (to change jobs). In Redding, there’s only one caution light and no sidewalks. My wife loves sidewalks. We moved to Brighton and had sidewalks throughout our neighborhood.”

In several ways, CCR mirrors the Rochester community, Antonez said.

“The membership is more diverse and more progressive,” he said. “I think there’s a better balance to the club than in years past. I think it weathered the recession.

“A lot has gone on in the last 13 years in Rochester, but every year the club has been focused on excellence, and for that reason it has always attracted great talent from staff and from the membership as well. It’s attracted wonderful members who support excellence.”

Antonez was responsible for day-to-day operations at CCR.

“The board is responsible for setting the vision and defining the policies,” he said. “It’s our job to execute.”

He expects a similar setup as GM at Sankaty Head.

“He’s going to a top-notch place and will definitely be missed by us, but we’re all feeling happy for him and his wife,” Murphy said. “We probably had 400 members turn out last week to say goodbye to him. That’s a testament to the impact he had on all of us.”

CCR ranks 28th on the Platinum Clubs of America’s 2012 ranking of the top 40 full-service country clubs. Oak Hill Country Club also made the list at 31st. They are the only clubs from the Rochester area among 100 listed.

The list is compiled every three years in a survey of general managers, club presidents and owners.

“Al has set the standard, both in the community and across the nation, for how a general manager and COO should run a club and work with the membership,” Murphy said. “He’s raised the bar in terms of member satisfaction. I think he’s done wonderful things to maintain and grow our membership.

“He’s overseen an enormous transformation of the golf course (bunkers and trees) and a transformation of our membership. He’ll certainly be missed.”

Murphy declined to disclose CCR’s total membership.

Antonez thinks the future of golf in the Rochester market remains strong.

“Having the opportunity to travel around the United States and see different areas and people in communities doing different things, I think Rochester historically and to some extent still continues to sell itself short,” he said.

“The plethora of quality courses and clubs across the region provides so many chances for folks to play golf and enjoy golf. It is a great sport, not just that the game is great but for the people you meet and the relationships you can develop on the golf course that carry through to the rest of your life.”

Antonez is appreciative of his time at CCR.

“It’s been a joy to work here,” he said. “It’s never seemed like work. It has always been a passion of mine to work in clubs. The opportunity they gave me to do that here is something I’m grateful for.

“I have learned and grown so much. The membership and the different boards that I worked under here provided me with many opportunities to grow and treated our family so well while we were here. I’ll look back on it and know that I tried to give as much as I could while I was here. I’m looking forward to an exciting new adventure.”

6/27/14 (c) 2014 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.



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