If it weren’t for Shelby Futch’s father having a propensity for poker, he wouldn’t have discovered the game of golf. His numerous contributions to the game would have been sorely missed.
Shelby has earned a stellar interna¬tional reputation with a resume that spans every facet of golf. Initially a tour player, Shelby’s imprint on the game also include innovations in teaching and securing a business model for successful course operation.
Under the Scottsdale Golf Group, he owns and operates 11 golf courses in Texas, Arizona and Nevada. To think it all began when his dad won a set of clubs when he was a boy growing up in West Texas.
“My dad didn’t play,” Shelby laughs when revisiting the story. “One night he brought home a set of clubs he had won. But the golf bag had no ball inside so I learned with a tennis ball. When I first joined the golf team, I saw how small a golf ball was for the first time.”
He learned to hit it well and then he learned to teach and to sell the game. After a successful career in tournaments, he went on to instruct others to do the same. His first formal foray into education began with the formation of the John Jacobs’ Golf Schools in 1971. Starting in his garage like many successful businessmen, he taught himself to sell.
“I had a card table and an old rotary phone,” Shelby recalls. He started booking people into his growing number of golf schools around the country, booking flights, hotels and car rentals all at the same time. Today there are more than two dozen school locations and an online booking site to complement his call center for golf vacation seekers.
After he built a brand for schools, he began offering help on the business side. Under the guidance of Futch, Scottsdale Golf Group has grown from the undisputed leader in golf instruction to also become a master of club operations, management services and consumer marketing services. His brand is now helping other brands become successful.
Prior to establishing the Scottsdale Golf Group, Shelby played on numerous tours including the Far Eastern and South American and in several United States tour events. He also won the Illinois PGA Championship in the 1970s.
The result of his accomplishments came with induction into the Arizona Golf Hall of Fame in 2013.
“That was a tremendous honor for me,” Shelby says. Shelby has authored numerous instruction articles that have been printed in nationally recognized publications such as GOLF Magazine and Golf Digest. He was named one of “America’s 50 Best Golf Teachers” by GOLF Magazine, ranked by Golf Digest as one of the best teachers in the country, and was featured in the book Golf Gurus. He also has made appearances on The Golf Channel’s instructional program, Golf Academy Live. He is a frequent guest speaker for the Hong Kong and China PGA and has been involved in the development of instructional programs for mainland China.
He has owned and operated several golf course properties across the country, as well as a chain of golf retail stores to accompany a successful golf club fitting and manufacturing company.
Shelby currently lives in Mesa, Arizona, and still teaches, even when not getting paid. He is donating his skills to the NJCAA National Champion Scottsdale Community College Golf Team, having agreed to coach the team pro bono.
Teaching young players is quite gratifying for me,” Shelby says.
While serving as an instructor for the Golf Digest Schools, he founded the world-famous John Jacobs’ Golf Schools. Established in 1971 with John Jacobs, John Jacobs’ Golf Schools & Academies are some of the most recognized in the world. His partner, John Jacobs, was elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame and he (his nickname was Doctor Golf) was a 2001 inductee into the GOLF Magazine World Golf Teachers Hall of Fame.
The success of the John Jacobs’ Golf Schools, his courses and his business revolve around Shelby’s commitment to excellence and his love for the game.
Here are a few other accomplishments:
- Pres. Donald Trump once said: “Best Golf Advise I Ever Received”
- Goldwater Cup Player
- Played Japan Tour
- Featured in “Book of Best” by Stanley Marcus
- Has two series of instruction videos
- Appeared on The Golf Channel’s Golf Academy Live
- President of Golf Digest Schools
- Awarded Oklahoma State University golf scholarship
- Graduated with degree in economics
- Accomplished pilot
- Avid Cyclist who loves Nevada cycle trails
- US Army Air Borne Ranger Green Beret Staff Sergeant
Jody Niemann Brings A Fresh Approach to Royal Links Golf Club
Jody Niemann has literally turned the world of golf course management upside down. Not only is she the first woman ever to manage a major course in Las Vegas, she plans on making Royal Links the best all-inclusive golf destination for visitors and local residents.
After breaking barriers and basking in success during her competitive conquests, Niemann has found a home at Royal Links where she plans a more inclusive approach with learning programs, social interaction and first-class service.
“Royal Links will remain a prime tourist attraction, but we have changed our philosophy to also cater to locals with discounted rates while also offering nontraditional special events to the entire community,” Jody says.
The former LPGA pro moved her career to Las Vegas in 2012 and started working at Desert Pines Golf Club as the head pro. She worked for Walters Golf in operations and sales before a short stint at Topgolf Las Vegas. After serving briefly as a booking agent, she met Shelby Futch of the Scottsdale Golf Group, who purchased Royal Links from Walters last fall.
“Shelby offered me the opportunity to be the GM of Royal Links in a very impromptu conversation over coffee just after he had let the existing GM go,” she recalled. “I had hours to decide and obviously with the deep love for golf operations that I have, I grabbed the opportunity.”
Little did either of them know at the time that they were making history when she became the first female course GM in Vegas history.
“When I coached young athletes in the PAC-12 and WAC Conferences, I transformed their golf dreams into reality. I traveled the world participating in traditional and nontraditional golf events and now I want to watch Royal Links reach its full potential. While touring the country, I experienced high-end customer service and supreme hospitality. My goal is connecting guests with a menu of traditional and nontraditional golf experiences for the community as a whole, not just the tourist industry.”
She has been a champion on the collegiate and professional stages, winning championships at Arizona State University before moving up to play the LPGA Tour.
Jody turned pro in 1999 and qualified for the LPGA that same year. She was a tour player until 2003 when she was offered a coaching position at the University of Arizona, the same year she became a mother for the first time. She coached at U of A for a second season before moving to Reno where she coached at the University of Nevada until 2008. She also served as an admissions recruiter at UNR and had her second son, Jaxon, in 2006.
While growing up in Idaho, Jody received her first lessons from her grandfather. “Opa taught me how to play golf at 8 years old,” she recalls with her name for him. She caught on quickly and started playing competitive golf at the same age. She befriended a young player named Tiger Woods and the two often played rounds together. In high school, she golfed with the boys and was an American Junior Golf Association All-America four consecutive years. She also was a member of West Team for the Canon Cup Team for four years.
She earned a full-ride golf scholarship to Arizona State University where she was a two-time NCAA Team Champion, All America and All Pac -10. While in college, she also took part of a radio show called Backspin the Golf Show.
Although she had reconstructive shoulder surgery her junior year, she came back to win the USGA Public Links title.
“I have such a deep love for the game and cherish the traditions,” she said. Now she brings her 25 years of golf experience to Royal Links Golf Club, but with a different approach to course management: inclusion.
“The game has been very good to me and I want Royal Links to be on a par with every outstanding course in the country while being a place for anyone to learn and play.”
Jody still can’t refuse a challenge and holds her own long-drive event to raise money for her favorite charities.