MEET THE STAFF
A native of East Stroudsburg, PA, Rob is a second generation PGA Golf Professional with 20 years of Golf and Business experience under his belt. He has worked at some of the finest golf courses and clubs in America and prides himself on delivering premier products and first class services. With a BS in Business Management from Oral Roberts University and time as an owner and producer of Blue Yonder Films, Rob has a diverse background that enables him to wear the many hats that a Director of Golf must wear.
Rob is married to renowned Pediatric Ophthalmologist, Dr. Tammy Yanovitch, and has a son named Ilya who loves hockey almost as much as his dad does. Rob’s love of the game of golf goes far beyond the business world. He is an accomplished player and teacher and enjoys conversations about the swing, golf course design, and has a great respect for the history of the game, taught to him by his father Vince, a 50 year PGA member. Along with his PGA Class A Membership, Rob has achieved PGA Special Certifications in both Instruction and Golf Operations.
Course Superintendent, Justin May came to Shangri-La Golf Club from Dallas Country Club where he served as Assistant Superintendent. He is no stranger to course redevelopment and championship maintenance programs. During his tenure at Dallas Country Club, the course underwent a complete renovation. He is no stranger to Oklahoma, either. Raised in Altus, Oklahoma, Justin has degrees in both Agriculture Education and Turf Management from Oklahoma State University. He served as Assistant Superintendent at Oak Tree Country Club in Edmond during the period that
Oak Tree hosted the 67th Senior PGA Championship.
Justin and his wife Mandi have three sons Trip, Tagg and Trax.
LEAD ASSISTANT GOLF PROFESSIONAL
When you begin playing golf at age 2, par your first hole at age 4, and continue to play near scratch golf as an adult, you are passionate about golf. Shangri-La’s Lead Assistant Golf Professional, Ryan Dalton, is passionate about golf! A native of Joplin, Missouri, Ryan learned to play on the old Loma Linda Golf Course (now Eagle Creek at Downstream Casino). He honed his golf skills under the tutelage of the late Ben Pell, who was the pro there during his formative years. Today, he sports a handicap of 0.2 (if you’re looking for a partner). “I did have a 0.0 handicap when I started here,” he grins. “But now that I work at a golf club, I don’t have as much time to play. My handicap is starting to inch up a little.”
Ryan began his business career in the retail liquor business, first operating retail stores owned by a friend, then as owner of Dalton’s Discount Liquor and Tobacco in the Joplin area. He later moved to the Miller-Coors distributorship in northeastern Oklahoma, southeastern Kansas and southwestern Missouri. “That’s how I learned the Grand Lake area,” Ryan laughs. “I used to deliver beer to Serenity point in my boat, because it was so much faster than trying to get there by land.”
Just before joining the Shangri-La staff, Ryan joined the team of the nation’s largest lawn care company, Trugreen, first as a sales rep, then satellite manager, then Business Development Representative. But his passion for golf continued to tug at his heart. “I’d been thinking about what I really wanted to do for the rest of my working life. The first thing that came to mind was something in golf. That’s my passion,” he says. “It’s great on the Island,” Ryan says. “I used to drive an hour to work. Now, living right at the edge of the golf course, the only way it takes me an hour to get to work is if I ‘play’ my way there on the course. It’s just the best!” he says.
ASSISTANT GOLF PROFESSIONAL
Assistant Golf Professional, Kaleb Forkner, describes golf as his “passion.” After taking up the game as a youngster, he played for four years on his high school golf team at Webb City, Missouri before joining the heralded golf team at Missouri Southern State University.
“When I was in college, I got a job at Eagle Creek Golf Club (at Downstream Casino in Joplin). When I finished my second year of college, I was offered a job as an Assistant Pro at Eagle Creek – so my work schedule forced me to leave the golf team.”
He stayed in school, though, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, majoring in Marketing.
“Hopefully, that demonstrates my commitment to finishing what I start,” Kaleb says. “There are so many people who want to get into the golf business, I wanted to find some way to set myself apart. I think getting my degree demonstrates my willingness and ability to achieve the goals I set.”
Apparently, he’s right. Kaleb had befriended Shangri-La’s Lead Assistant Pro Ryan Dalton when they took PGA seminars together. A friendship ensued, and they began playing golf together when the opportunity arose.
Kaleb left Eagle Creek about a year-and-a-half ago, taking a job at Terradyne Country Club in Wichita. A longing for home territory took him back to Joplin where he worked briefly medical sales (“I discovered quickly that was not for me,” he laughs) and real estate sales. Then came the call.
“I got a phone from Ryan who I got to know while I was working at Eagle Creek. We had gone become good friends. I’m so glad Ryan called me, because I love Shangri-La. This is the perfect spot,” he says.
Kaleb’s longterm goals are to advance through the profession – hopefully to a Class A PGA Designation which will allow him to pursue a career as a teaching pro, a head pro, or a Director of Golf.
“At this point, I really don’t know which direction my career path will take me. Maybe a slot as a Director of Golf. That way I could do the other two jobs, too, if I want to,” he laughs.
Kaleb has maintained his friendship with the MSSU Head Coach, Mike Wheeler; and he looks forward to the MSSU Invitational Tournament returning to Shangri-La for the third consecutive year in the fall. He’s ready to share the Shangri-La environment with the college golfers at his Alma Mater who are following in his footsteps.
“It’s amazing how friendly everyone is here,” he says. “One thing that is really great is the fact that everyone is like family – the staff and members, alike. With such nice weather in February, I got to meet a lot of members, but I still have a lot to go. Everyone has been so nice, though. It’s just a great environment to be in. I’m home.”
DIRECTOR OF PLAYER SERVICES
With more than a dozen years under his belt at Shangri-La, John Lewis is armed with a wealth of comparative Shangri-La club knowledge, past, present and future. It is knowledge accumulated over more than a decade since he moved here from Texas. We have all heard of people from west Texas, but that’s where John is really from – the actual town of West. West, Texas. From there, he moved to the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex where he spent two decades – ten years with Texas Instruments and another ten in the roofing business. His love of golf began when his dad put his first club in his hand at the age of 12, but his passion developed while playing with colleagues during his tenure at Texas Instruments.
For John, golf is both his passion and his work. It’s not likely you will hit the course at Shangri-La without John first making certain you have everything you need. He’s never far from the course. In fact, he lives on the course at Vista Towers and his normal commute-to-work vehicle is his golf cart. John is the father of three. His daughter Kasey recently married and lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. A second daughter, Allie, is a pre-med major at the University of Florida, and his son, Collin, is a sophomore at Quapaw High School. He loves ATV four-wheeling, shooting, and taking on all comers at Tiger Woods Xbox. But first of all – it’s golf.