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Korby's Connections: It's 'so long' for now with Bill at the golf club

Bill Manahan, longtime Cloquet Country Club golf professional and manager, has accepted the general manager position with the beautiful The Wilderness at Fortune Bay golf course on Lake Vermilion near Tower, Minnesota. He starts his new job on April 1.

Bill was my golf confidant and a friend. You could always count on Bill. He knew a little bit about everything and he liked to chat.

He'll be missed, but it's a wonderful opportunity.

"It's going to be an adjustment with me missing all the people that have become good friends at the Cloquet golf club," Manahan said. "I'd see members and guests coming up the sidewalk from the Pro Shop window and I was always happy to greet them. Everyone came to golf and the course with a smile on their face. But, I am also excited to begin a new career and face its challenges at a time likely to be the latter part of my work life."

Manahan was a fixture at CCC, with over 23 years total in the role.

"I've been at Cloquet long enough that I've had Scott Patton work for me in the bag/pro shop to now seeing his son, Karson, doing the same job," Manahan said.

Manahan was the manager and pro 1988-1994 and then returned for a second stint from 2007 to the present. Previously, Manahan had worked as the manager at Black Bear Golf Course, Grand National Golf Club in Hinckley, Northern Hills in Rochester, and Oak Ridge in Hopkins. Bill was also the pro when Grand National opened as a brand-new public course a few years back.

The Wilderness, owned by the Bois Forte Band of Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, was rated by Golfweek in 2023 as the third-best public golf course in Minnesota and the seventh-best casino club in the United States.

"I was glad I was here at the Cloquet Country Club's 100th-year anniversary and celebration last summer. Such a historic and meaningful place in Cloquet's history," Manahan said. "It was fun catching up and relaxing with some 'retired' members."

A somewhat significant difference between the two clubs is that The Wilderness is open daily to the public, while the Cloquet Country Club is semi-private and open to members and guests.

Manahan has also been designated a "matchmaker."

"Our son, Andrew, and Christine Bryant, daughter of Rich and Kim Bryant, both worked summers during college in the bar-restaurant area," said longtime CCC member Jan Salo Korby, my wife. "Bill must have seen a romantic connection and link between the two and purposely set them up on a date. Well, it worked, and subsequently, I have two beautiful grandkids as a result."

Manahan gave special credit to his wife, Tricia, and their kids, Maddie and Ryan, for their support over the years.

"I was fortunate enough to have hired Tricia Wollack back in the 1980s to work in the Pro Shop at CCC. Little did I know it was a life changing decision," Manahan said. "Tricia is a special person to cope with me. I'm an unbelievably lucky man." Maddie and Ryan have worked at the Club in recent years and are giving Bill a chance and the joy to be with them.

"The relationships and lifelong friendships generated by current and past staff and members are countless," Manahan said. "I've also had the pleasure of working with some great golf course superintendents here at the club and can honestly say it is a privilege to call them all friends."

Manahan gives credit to a "passionate and loyal membership" and feels the Cloquet club is in a better place now than when he returned in 2007.

"It takes innovative ideas by members and staff, a superb golf course provided by hard-working superintendents, staff and volunteers with incredible work ethic. It takes all of those ingredients to make it happen. It is a special place."

"To all of you, thank you so much," Manahan said.

Best of luck to you, Bill. Look for some Cloquet "guests" coming to The Wilderness for a visit - after all, you're only 87 miles and 90 minutes away.

Steve Korby's interest in writing goes back to when he was in fourth grade and editor of the Scan-Satellite school newspaper in Scanlon. He welcomes ideas for human interest stories and tales c/o [email protected].

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