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Pelican Hill and Oak Creek add experienced resort golf leader to staff

The Irvine Company Resort Properties has hired Dirk Willis as vice president and general manager of golf. With more than 25 years of professional golf, retail and hospitality expertise, Willis will lead all aspects of golf and retail for the two courses at Pelican Hill Golf Club in Newport Coast and Oak Creek Golf Club in Irvine.

“Dirk’s expertise and leadership will guide the world-class golf experiences and retail offerings we provide to locals and resort guests at our three Tom Fazio-designed courses here in sunny Southern California,” said Irvine Company Resort Properties President Ralph Grippo. “From golf buddy trips to tournament-style events to our growing membership programs, Dirk’s experience will be instrumental in upholding the high caliber of personalized guest service and well-maintained facilities that Pelican Hill and Oak Creek have always delivered.”

Willis, PGA, was previously director of golf operations for Whistling Straits and Blackwolf Run at Destination Kohler, the Midwest’s only Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five-Diamond resort, located in the Village of Kohler, Wis. Over more than two decades at Kohler Co., his leadership positions also included head golf professional for Whistling Straits and tournament manager for Destination Kohler.

With numerous championship golf events held at Whistling Straits during his tenure, Willis served on the PGA of America’s Executive Committee for the 2007 United States Senior Open, 2010 & 2015 PGA Championship and 2020 Ryder Cup Matches. Additionally, he led initiatives to increase college scholarship opportunities for student athletes as the president of the Board of Directors for the Golf Coaches Association of Wisconsin (WPGA).

Willis’ professional honors include PGA National Merchandiser of the Year, WPGA Merchandiser of the Year, WPGA Junior Leader of the Year and GolfWorld Business Top 100 Golf Shops. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Marquette University, a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing from University of Wisconsin-Platteville and certificates in executive management from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and hospitality management from Cornell.

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