NORMAL — When Laura Provost arrived in the Twin Cities in 1992, she wasn't planning on making it a long-term move.
“I came here like everyone else on a five-year plan,” she said. “I would be here five years and out of here to bigger and better things, the young and arrogant attitude.”
Provost, who grew up in Michigan, smiles while sitting inside her office at Weibring Golf Club at Illinois State.
“I love this place, community and university,” she said. “I think it's been a great fit.”
Provost, 53, is beginning her 26th year as Weibring Golf Club's head professional/manager. She remembers coming to then-ISU Golf Course after serving as an assistant pro at St. Charles Country Club in the Chicago suburbs.
“It was kind of a culture shock. The golf course was surrounded by cornfields,” she said. “I was driving down (Interstate) 55 and seeing nothing but farms. But it was a great opportunity and I've seen a lot of change.”
Other than the clubhouse, not much is the same since Provost arrived.
The course underwent a major renovation under the direction of ISU graduate and touring pro D.A. Weibring that began in 2000, reopening the following year. The course's direction changed in July 2005 when it was shifted from Campus Recreation to the Athletics Department.
Then in 2013, the Mounier Golf Training Center was opened adjacent to the second hole, which provides the Redbird men's and women's golf teams with an outstanding practice facility as well as a warm-up range for many tournaments and outings.
It's those tournaments — whether local, high school or collegiate — where competitors and coaches walk away marveling at Provost's organization and attention to their every need.
“We love having tournaments. We like the build-up to it,” said Provost. “In our situation it's a lot of daily, daily, daily (golfers). When you get an event, now you can pay attention to all the details, get everyone here, you can have an event and look back and say, 'Man, that was a ride. That was great.' It's something to do with the gratification of it.”
Not to say Provost doesn't enjoy seeing familiar faces come into the clubhouse.
“We love seeing our daily guests come in. They turn into family,” she said. “But every now and then we love putting on a show.”
Provost isn't planning to leave Weibring Golf Club any time soon. It is home to her now. But she knows that day will eventually come.
“If you look at coaches that leave a program, they want to leave it on a solid foundation,” she said. “I want make sure our junior program is up and running, and Stacey (Miller, assistant pro) has done a fantastic job getting that rolling. Travis (Williams, superintendent) has done a fantastic job taking care of the golf course.”
Provost has helped build up the Women's Golf Association at Weibring Golf Club along with a Sunday Nine and Dine Couples League. She wants to see the Men's Golf Association regain the former status it once held and is targeting another group.
“I want to make sure our college students, the millennials, they're playing a lot of golf,” she said. “I want to make sure that young group is playing golf because that's the group that's going to be driving golf for a lot of years.”