It Was Fate: Crabb Enjoys Decade at Whispering Woods
This is one in a series of articles profiling area golf professionals.
Gary Crabb is a familiar figure behind the golf shop counter at Whispering Woods Golf Club.
Crabb has been an assistant professional at Whispering Woods Golf Club for a decade. He came on board when the club was being run for Granite Golf by Carie Rice -- the only female director of golf in the Sandhills at that time -- and he's been part of the changes since that have included the purchase of the facility by Fairways Golf Management Co.
Crabb is 37 years old, and his wife, Lara, works nights so that their 7-year-old son Landon (named after actor Michael Landon) won't be home alone. It's a demanding profession, but one that he loves.
"Everybody thinks that being a golf professional is a glamorous job," he said, smiling. "But you'll find that most professionals don't play a lot. Maybe once every week or two weeks. But I like the people who play golf, and this is the direction I wanted to go in."
Stuart Taylor is co-owner, general manager and head professional at Whispering Woods, an Ellis Maples-designed course that is located in Whispering Pines. Crabb feels he's benefited greatly from the association.
"It was December 2000 when Fairways Golf bought the course," Crabb recalled, "and with new people taking over, I was naturally concerned. But Stuart and Jim Hart (co-owner) are smart people; they know what they're doing and they're great to work with.
"They've taken care of me, and what I've asked for, they've provided. Stuart has been in the business for a long time and he knows so much."
Another fixture at Whispering Woods is the legendary Andy Page, who spent a lengthy career as head professional at Southern Pines Golf Club. Page considers himself semi-retired, but works a regular shift at the course.
"Andy is just a great guy and he's such an important cog here," Crabb said.
Fate at Work
Ironically, Crabb grew up in Troy, Mich., and married a girl from Troy -- North Carolina.
"I met Lara here at Whispering Woods," he said.
Fate played a hand in Crabb's landing at Whispering Woods.
"I grew up in Michigan, and I was tired of the winters there," he said. "I had played golf for four years in high school and I wanted to stay in it in some capacity. I read about a place called Golf Academy South in Orlando, Fla., and my parents were willing to pay, so I went there.
"After graduating, I went to Beech Mountain as an assistant. But I wanted to try to play professionally, so I went back to Florida and played some of the mini-tours.
"I had the opportunity to play a little between Beech Mountain and coming here and spent some time on the Spalding Space Coast Tour. I made a little money, but not enough to keep going. I learned there were a lot of players better than I.
"My parents bought a place here behind the ninth green, and I heard there was an opening on the staff so I decided to come here."
Crabb knows prospects are not the best for Whispering Woods at a time when many golf courses all over the country are struggling for survival.
"We're trying to make this a better place, and we're getting there," he said.
"One of the strengths is that we provide a place for the family."
Whispering Woods has a reputation of being one of the most youth-friendly courses in the area, and the staff goes out of its way to project that image. Junior golfers are made to feel welcome, and parents are encouraged to bring them along for outings.
"We love having the kids," Crabb said.
"Union Pines High School played here this year, and Stuart coached the team. We cater to juniors and parent-child participation."
The small club setting suits Crabb.
"A lot of people get lost in the shuffle at big places," he said. "Here, I can help anybody do anything. I don't run the course, but if golfers need a problem solved, I can do it. It's a laid-back setting, and I enjoy it."
Crabb also feels that the golf course is one of the most enjoyable in the area.
"It's a very playable course," he said. "It's good for seniors, ladies and juniors. It's a fun course, but good players can enjoy it as well. The Sunbelt Senior Tour holds a tournament here every spring and the golfers love coming back. There are a lot of different ways to play a course."
Having satisfied the urge to play professionally, Crabb is content being a father and husband.
"I enjoy being with my family on days off," he said.
"I play a little golf and run errands because my wife works nights. I've been here 10 years now, and it's been a good 10 years."
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