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Story by Ian Guerin
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. | Golf doesn’t produce many guys whose physical presences immediately take over a room. The industry also doesn’t include a ton of former college football players. In Joe Dipre, the general manager and head golf professional at Grande Dunes Resort Club, the Myrtle Beach scene has someone who fits both categories. At 6-foot-4 and maybe a hair over his playing weight of 250 pounds, Dipre doesn’t look like your typical golf pro. “It’s an easy way to start a conversation with the guests, that’s for sure,” he said.
Dipre played collegiately at Pittsburgh after coming out of the Philadelphia area as one of the top linebacker prospects in the high school class of 2001 by ESPN. He was selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Game as a prep senior, and his scholarship offer list was eclipsed by only a few elite names that year. In fact, he was such a prized recruit that when Pitt announced its signing class that year, he was the first name on the school’s release. After two years there, Dipre transferred to NCAA Division-II Gannon University, where he led the team in tackles in both 2004 and 2005. Football was in the Dipre blood. His father, also named Joe, played 44 games at running back for Kentucky in the mid-1970s and his cousin, Troy, followed into the college ranks later at Minnesota and Kent State.
Golf was also part of the Dipre legacy. Growing up, he played rounds with his buddies at J.C. Martin Golf Course in Erie, Pennsylvania, and he frequently took to Whispering Woods Golf Club with his dad. “Those times can never get replaced,” Dipre said. As for getting better, he also had another leg-up from the family tree. “My great uncle was a college golf coach and he took the time to properly teach me the golf swing,” Dipre said. “I owe a lot to him for instilling in me the traditions and love for the game.” Post-football, that is where Dipre put his sizable efforts.
He enrolled at the Golf Academy of America’s Myrtle Beach campus, where he was later named one of the school’s top-100 alumni. He rose up the golf ranks, and in addition to his role at Grande Dunes, he is also currently the Founders Group International North End Regional Manager, overseeing Pine Lakes Country Club, Colonial Charters Golf Club, Aberdeen Country Club, Long Bay Golf Club and River Hills Golf Club. The decision to switch from the oblong ball to the little one with dimples, then, certainly paid off. And in many ways, he took what he learned from one to the other. He still refers to his staff as “teammates” and breaks down a business year much the same way he did a football game. Even if the first three quarters didn’t go as planned, it wasn’t over until the calendar turned over. “The whole experience of playing Division-I football, that’s what I did. It was a commitment level, it was a dedication to something that was a lot bigger than yourself,” Dipre said. “That commitment level to your job in the golf business is a perfect mirror to each other.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of series of stories illuminating the men and women serving as Golf Professionals at Myrtle Beach-area golf courses