QA with Jon Janik, head golf professional at Longshore
Updated 12:21 pm, Friday, March 17, 2017
WESTPORT — One of the first people to visit Jon Janik at his new job as head golf professional at Longshore Golf Course was a former student.
Mitch French started working with Janik at the age of 8, when Janik was a golf professional at Tashua Knolls Golf Course in Trumbull. French continued to learn from Janik through his participation in the club’s junior program and eventually played for four years under Janik at Trumbull High School. French is a student in Coastal Carolina University’s PGA Golf Management Program.
“Now he’s in the golf business, so he came here last week to interview me for a project he had. He had to interview some golf professionals,” Janik said.
In his 14 years at Tashua, Janik cultivated many relationships with golfers, and although he will miss them, he looks forward to forging new friendships.
“That’s one great story out of many, and some of those people I’m not going to be able to see as much as I used to. ... It’s hard to leave that,” he said. “In that regard, I’m a sentimental person. I’ll miss that, but again I look forward to developing those relationships with people here.”
Janik, a Bridgeport native, was a talented golfer at St. Joseph High School, competing in the 1997 Chappa Invitational at Longshore. That same year he won the Junior Club Championship at Fairchild Wheeler, his home course. But while attending Fairfield University, Janik did not play for the college team and focused on a business degree, resigning himself to a career on Wall Street. He continued to work summers at Fairchild Wheeler.
In the summer of 2002, after he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Fairfield, Janik was hitting balls on the Fairchild Wheeler driving range and thought about entering the golf industry if he won the Fairchild Wheeler Club Championship.
“It was club championship time, and I said to myself, basically because I never thought I would do it, I said, ‘If I win this tournament, I’m going to give it a shot of being in the golf business. At least give it a shot,’ ” he said. “Lo and behold, I won the tournament. So I guess I kept my promise to myself, and I kind of stopped looking for that job on Wall Street.”
The victory was a surprise to Janik because in previous years he said he “usually got smoked” or “beat up.”
After working as an entry-level assistant at Fairchild Wheeler, Janik moved on to be an assistant golf pro at Tashua. In 2008, he was promoted to head pro, a position he held until he accepted the top golf job at Longshore in February.
Over his time at Tashua, the 36-year-old Janik said he has learned a lot, especially from his mentor, Bobby Brown, the PGA director of golf at Tashua. “He was great to me. We had many, many, many good years there. I learned a lot from him; how to run a great junior golf program,” Janik said.
What attracted the Stratford resident to Longshore was the ability to run his own golf program and the course. “I’ve always liked the golf course here. I like the fact that it’s an older golf course. There’s a lot of history here,” Janik said.
One area where Janik sees an immediate opportunity for growth at his new job is the junior program. He is looking to focus on implementing junior golf leagues, summer camps and after-school clinics. “There was stuff in place here, and I kind of want to use those and add on to them a little bit,” he said.
As far as his long-term goals, Janik is set on digging his heels into the position and becoming a fixture in Westport.
“I hope to make the customers and the members happy. I want to be somebody who they’re comfortable talking to. I want to be out there with them. I want to be involved with all the group. I want to build up the junior golf program. I want to make a commitment to the town and be the best golf pro.”