In Loving Memory, Paul Porter
The NCGA lost its leader suddenly and mercilessly September 12. Paul Porter, CEO of the NCGA and President/CEO of Poppy Holding, Inc., suffered a brain aneurism in mid-August at the NCGA offices. After a month-long battle, Porter passed away peacefully surrounded by his loving family at the age of 56.
The Santa Clara alumnus came to Poppy Hills in 1991 as general manager after 18 years at Northstar at Tahoe Ski Resort. Over the course of his 15 years of leadership of Poppy Holding Inc., the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am came to Poppy Hills, Poppy Ridge opened in Livermore and both courses developed a reputation for world-class golf at a great value. Awards such as the National Golf Course Owners’ Association 2005 Course of the Year (for Poppy Hills) are a direct reflection of the native Californian’s guidance.
Porter was appointed CEO of the NCGA in 2004 and immediately embarked upon a plan to improve member services and drive association membership. The strategic plan he formulated, along with the NCGA Board of Directors, will guide the association through the next five years and will be part of Porter’s professional legacy.
His selection as NCGA CEO marked a significant change in direction for the 105-year old organization. Upgrades and additions to all aspects of the association, including the multi-million dollar office expansion Porter oversaw, were part of an overall vision for the NCGA to become all things golf within the region.
Well known among his colleagues as intelligent, hard working and warm, Porter was a respected leader within the industry. He was recently named fourth most influential CEO in California golf and was founding president of the California Golf Course Owners Association and the California Alliance for Golf.
A quick wit and big heart allowed him to connect with staff and colleagues on a personal level. He empowered those who knew him to reach for the stars and made everyone around him better. The greatest testaments to Porter’s stewardship will be both the impact he had on the NCGA board and staff and the association’s continued success and place amongst the leading golf associations in the world.
The Carmel Valley resident loved a good joke and possessed an incredible knack for making people feel comfortable. His natural ability to lead was further enhanced by his legendary work ethic and commitment.
A dedicated family man, Porter is survived by devoted wife of 24 years Nettie, daughter Lauren, sons Reed and Robert, mother Paula Porter, sister Kate Breuleux and brother Jim Porter. His greatest joy came from time spent with his family and enjoying the success of his children.
Paul was loved by all that knew him and will be greatly missed, but never forgotten.
I admired and loved Paul as I would a member of my own family. He had the ability to show compassion and care for all who crossed paths with him. He was a leader, a friend and a family man. Paul Porter was a gift to all who were lucky enough to know him.
Tyler Jones, Interim NCGA CEO
In Paul’s tenure, he and his staff guided the NCGA golf courses to their present level of gold standard in the industry. Although his time as CEO of the NCGA was relatively brief, Paul challenged his association and the industry to look at innovative methods to improve service to the golfing community. Paul approached his work with a passion and his efforts will continue to leave a lasting impact on the game of golf in California.
Kevin Heaney, Executive Director of the Southern California Golf Association
Our industry has lost a true professional in Paul Porter. Paul was the kind of individual that people gravitated toward. Most importantly, Paul was extremely fair, honest and kind. Paul will be missed by many. I will always be proud to call him my friend.
Chris Thomas, Executive Director, NCPGA
As great as Paul was at his job, he was even better away from it. On one occasion, we had a player on our team whose father was out of the picture. This player managed to get into a great university, but couldn’t pay for it. Paul barely knew this kid, but nonetheless spent countless hours raising thousands of dollars to get him through school. This was not unusual for Paul: while others deliberated solutions, Paul often was the solution.
Scott Brown, executive editor of Carmel magazine
Paul was a tremendous leader, mentor and role model. We enjoyed coaching our kid’s soccer together and had many discussions about golf, business and life. Paul was a boss and friend who made you feel very special. I will have lasting memories of our friendship. It was a real privilege to work for him.
Bob Higgins, Poppy Ridge General Manager
Paul Porter remains living in the hearts of the people who knew him because he was a good and kind man. Professionally he was a visionary for the NCGA and its headquarters at Poppy Hills. I had many wonderful moments with him and I, along with all of those who love the game of golf, will miss him greatly.
Robert Trent Jones, Jr.
We will all miss Paul’s leadership, his warm sense of humor and his thoughtful caring management style. Paul thought strategically and was a visionary. He led by example and was a great friend and mentor to many of his staff. He “raised the bar” for all of us at the NCGA. We are all better for having the opportunity of knowing and working with Paul.
Dean Bartee, NCGA Vice President
Paul was also fiercely protective of the people and ideas in which he believed. I saw him work tirelessly and over many years to champion others, promote the game, and the business. His ideals included fairness, the belief that one person can make a difference, and that individuals linked together with a vision can do much more. Paul was taken from us while he was at mid-stride but, because he was such a mentor and excellent example, I am confident his spirit and legacy will live on.
Mike Tinkey, Deputy CEO National Golf Course Owners Association