As the Founder and President of Professional Course Management (PCM), Johnny LaPonzina has left his indelible imprint upon the golfing landscape of South Florida. Regarded for his ability to make golf properties more profitable, LaPonzina has not only changed the way people operate golf facilities, but he has redefined the way people play golf in South Florida by making it more appealing and more affordable.
"Golf was very elitist in South Florida when I was coming up", said LaPonzina in a recent interview with Sun-Sentinel writer, Randall Mell. "I never wanted to go after the elite business. I wanted to make the game more affordable for the average mom and dad and family."
Golf and business historians will attest to the long list of golf club owners, municipalities and real estate developers who credit LaPonzina for much of their financial success. Through his many roles as a golf club owner, operator, consultant and marketing expert, LaPonzina has garnered the appreciation of his business partners and the admiration of his peers. In the process, he has earned a reputation as a savvy businessman and marketing genius.
"Johnny was an innovator," said PGA Tour pro Mike Donald. "He came up with new ideas and programs, and he aggressively marketed them. Other people started copying those ideas. When that happens, you know you're pretty smart."
Recently, LaPonzina's remarkable career in golf was recognized by his peers when he was inducted into the South Florida PGA Section Hall of Fame. LaPonzina joined other enshrined legends, including Jack Nicklaus, who were cited by the PGA for their outstanding contributions to the game of golf. The honor cemented LaPonzina's legacy as one of the most influential people in South Florida golf.
Aside from being a skilled businessman and past President of the South Florida PGA, LaPonzina's talents as a golfer are equally regarded. Early in his golfing career, LaPonzina was a National Junior Champion, the #1 ranked U.S. player (18 & under), a three-time PeeWee and two-time Future Masters Champion from Miami.
After earning a scholarship to Louisiana State University, he was named captain of the golf team and played on three Southeastern Conference championship squads in the late '60's. On the verge of a promising professional career and just one-month after graduating from LSU with a business degree, LaPonzina's father passed away. Determined to support his mother, Johnny turned his attention towards his golf management career and never looked back.
Over the past 30 years, LaPonzina has created a golfing empire based largely on his uncanny ability to understand and respond to market conditions. Today, LaPonzina's company, Professional Course Management, owns, operates or manages the following courses: Pembroke Lakes Golf Club, Miami Shores Country Club, Normandy Shores Golf Club and Miami Beach Golf Club.