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Tom Abts & This Place Called Deer Run

Dedicated to the sunshine of truth,

the moonshine of meeting deadlines,

and the starshine of Victoria.

8661 Deer Run Dr. * Victoria


The Victoria GAZETTE

Victoria’s Corner Bar.  Nightly Specials and Menus.  952-443-9944

by Sue Orsen

The Victoria Gazette

         Tom Abts was honored in October as the 2017 Minnesota PGA Golf Pro of the Year.  It was a vote of a committee of his peers, by 500 golf pros in the Minnesota Section of the PGA.  The award was presented to him on October 23rd following an elegant reception and dinner at the Rush Creek Country Club in Maple Grove.  Victoria’s Golf Pro had top billing at the prestigious event.

         But Tom talks instead about “this place” -- the Deer Run Clubhouse, the Deer Run Golf Course, the Deer Run Hospitality.  “The award is at least as much about this place as me,” said the man of manners.  “This is a unique place.  There’s nothing else out there like this.  I’m the face of the place and so I get the award.  The award is about this place, this atmosphere.”

         How did Tom Abts learn that he was to receive this award?  “I got a phone call from the Vice President of the Minnesota PGA,” he said.  “They had earlier let me know I had been nominated and it is all a big surprise.”

         This award recognizes PGA members for their “outstanding performance and superior achievements, both on and off the course.”  Presented annually since 1974, this award honors the working PGA members whose total contributions to the game best exemplify the complete PGA Professional. 

         Receiving this award doesn’t happen overnight.  It is based on “longterm performance and achievement, service, leadership, image and ability to inspire fellow PGA professionals and apprentices, and promotion of golf.”  Tom is above par in all of those categories, but his conversation keeps circling around to Deer Run.

         Reaching across his desk, he picked up the October 2017 edition of Tee Times: Minnesota Golf and Living. “My hands were shaking when I first got it,” he said.  “I knew this edition had the Readers’ Choice Awards.  For five years in a row, Deer Run has been ranked tops in hospitality.  What if we didn’t get it this year?  What would that say about us?”

         He demonstrated how his shaking hands had to turn four pages before he came to the Readers’ Choice Awards.  There it was in black and white:  “Deer Run is The Golf Course That Provides The Best  Hospitality.”  Deer Run Golf Club was once again ranked #1 out of the 300 golf courses in Minnesota!

         And there was more in that Tee Times paper.  Deer Run was ranked in the Top Five in other notable categories:  1) The Golf Course That Provides The Best Golf Experience, 2) The Golf Course That Provides The Best Value, 3) The Golf Course In The Best Condition, 4) The Golf Course With The Best Greens, 5) Favorite Golf Course For A Tournament, 6) Favorite Clubhouse, 7) Best Merchandise Pro Shop.

         “I’m thrilled out of my mind!” he said.  “What drives the train is the hospitality.  But don’t get me wrong.  I want everything to be first rate, but relationships matter more than stuff.  We are in the hospitality industry.  Golf is second.  I love golf, but hospitality is first.”

         Best Merchandise Pro Shop?  Replied Tom, “Yes, it’s very small, like the size of a closet.  But the merchandise is the best!  You can’t believe some of what we are up against for those awards.  Some of the clubhouses are palaces!  Ours is a little farmhouse.” 

         The Deer Run Clubhouse did indeed begin as a farmhouse.  The golf course was formerly rural property called Victoria Farms.  It was back in the late 1980’s that the pristine pasture land, ponds, and rolling hills were transformed into an 18-hole golf course that also featured the Chaska brick farmhouse re-purposed into a clubhouse.  “They don’t make Chaska brick anymore,” said Tom.  “This place is one of a kind.”


         Tom Abts was born in 1955 in Yankton, South Dakota, where his dad grew up.  His mother grew up in nearby Vermillion.  As an insurance salesman, Mr. Abts found his livelihood in the Twin Cities of Minnesota.

         “At the time I was growing up, the neighborhood was called Minnetonka Mills,” said Tom.  “There were working mills that ground wheat into flour.  There was a farm in our backyard.  It was rural.”

         Does Tom have siblings?  “I’m the oldest of three boys,” he said.  “Rick is a professor and Dan still lives in the homeplace.”

         Tom said that while attending Hopkins High School, he was a baseball player and a wrestler.  He was also the editor of the school paper and wrote a column all through high school.  Tom graduated from Hopkins in 1973 with ambitions to be a journalist.  He loved to write but turned away from a career in journalism because of an experience on a newsroom tour.



Related pictures at Congratulations, Tom Abts!

November 2017