Siller’s rise to Summit Chase CC head professional was by (mechanical) design
By John L. Byrwa
Gene Siller had no sooner completed one project when another arrived on his plate. He quickly scanned the requirements and formulated a rough plan on how to attack his next task.
This is what Siller had signed up for when he accepted a position as a lead mechanical design engineer at Von Duprin, an Indianapolis-based subsidiary of international industrial giant Ingersoll-Rand. This is what he had worked so hard to reach: a managerial position that would enable him put to professional use the talents he had honed while an engineering student at Purdue University in Indiana.
At the same time, Siller knew deep down that it was just another project. Another in a seemingly endless stream of projects that were sure to cross his desk, year after year after year.
That’s when reality set in.
“At that point, I wanted to do projects, mechanical-type projects,” Siller said. “But I knew that I didn’t want my life to be one project after another project after another project.”
Golf has a funny way of sinking its hooks into the unsuspecting. People who never pictured themselves with a club in their hands, one day accept an invite to play in a company scramble tournament. So, to prepare, they head to the local range and try to hit a few balls. Invariably, after countless whiffs, duffs, shanks, horrid hooks and unsightly slices, they somehow – mostly by accident -- manage to strike one shot perfectly. They feel the clubface meeting the ball squarely, feel that poetry of kinetic energy resonate up the shaft, through their hands, up their arms and into their chest.
And they’re hooked.
Gene Siller became hooked as a youngster growing up in Cincinnati, when he’d tag along with his dad when he practiced or played. His uncle and older cousin played a lot, too. Soon, Siller became good enough to not only beat his cousin, but to win the City Junior Open 11-and-under division at 8 years old.
Siller would grow into an accomplished player, and eventually became a member at The Fort Golf Course in Indianapolis.
“The head pro there was a guy named John Chapell, and he was great at teaching kids,” Siller said. “I would come around and play nine holes after work, and one day one of the guys who was helping him teach the kids couldn’t be there and he asked me if I could help out.
“So I said, ‘sure.’ It was really a lot of fun with a bunch of kids running around, and I realized that it captured what I wanted to.”
Chapell knew it, too. And eventually offered Siller an opportunity that would change the course of his profession – and his life.
“One day John said, ‘Hey, do you want to come work here and see what it’s all about?’” Siller recalled. “Like I said, I didn’t want my life to be one project after another, so I did it.”
Siller spent two years working at The Fort GC, before heading South to accept a position as an assistant professional at White Columns Country Club in Alpharetta. After a year there, he moved on to St. Ives Country Club in Duluth, where worked for 10 years, eventually rising to first assistant.
Upon earning his PGA Class A Professional status in 2012, Siller waited for his shot at becoming a head professional. His wait paid off this past June when he was hired to become the head professional at Summit Chase Country Club in Snellville.
“Right now I’m still just getting my feet wet, doing some teaching and setting up tournaments,” Siller, 42 said. “Don Britt and Van (Britt, general manager and owner of Summit Chase, respectively) have been great. Don was very honest about everything, and it’s everything he said it would be.
“So far, it’s been fantastic. The membership is great, and it’s just a great place to be.”
That he gets to work with, and learn from, David Epps, who was the long-time head professional at Summit Chase before starting the David Epps Teaching Academy at Summit Chase, is an added benefit.
“David’s been great,” Siller said. “He’s very knowledgeable about teaching, and any time you have somebody like that, including the members and Don, there to lean on and help show you the ropes is great.”
Siller, his wife, Ashley, along with their two sons, Beau and Banks, live in Cumming with their dog Bella.