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Dave Olson, Published October 25 2013

Young professionals: Two 20-somethings in leadership roles at Oxbow Country Club

OXBOW N.D. - John Dahl, golf pro at the Oxbow Country Club, knew early on that Joel Livingood and the country club were a good fit.

Livingood was in the eighth grade when he got a job gathering and cleaning stray golf balls from the club’s driving range.

He was “very mature for his age, very responsible and showed a passion for the golf business,” recalled Dahl, who eventually moved Livingood into the golf shop and made him his right-hand man for several years.

Livingood, a 2008 graduate of Fargo South High School, continued working for the country club while attending the University of Minnesota.

After graduating, Livingood interviewed for corporate jobs in the Twin Cities, but soon realized the hospitality industry was where he wanted to be.

And when the general manager job at Oxbow became available, he knew what he wanted to do.

“The people and the relationships I’ve built here are really the reason I came back,” Livingood said. “The people I get to work with – and for – are some of the best people I know. I really enjoy it.”

Livingood, 24, has been general manager at the country club just shy of two years.

He’s not the only one there to land a high-level position at a relatively young age.

Torey Ostlund, Oxbow’s executive chef, is 25.

Ostlund, a native of Moorhead and a 2006 graduate of Moorhead High School, said he studied cooking for a time but most of his learning has been on the job.

He was a chef at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fargo before taking a position as sous chef at the country club in 2009.

He was named executive chef later that year.

No matter what his age, Ostlund said he’s never been intimidated by a job and prefers challenge over complacency.

“What drew me to doing this is, it’s never the same from day to day,” Ostlund said. He said many executive chefs in the area likely outrank him in the age department.

Livingood said he feels he and Ostlund bring a fresh perspective to the country club, while at the same time they respect and rely on the wisdom of those who have worked there much longer.

“I think it’s an interesting dynamic and part of the reason we’re so successful,” Livingood said. His strategy for leading the country club includes studying what innovative private clubs around the country are doing.

“I really think the future of private clubs is in families and having something for everybody,” said Livingood, who at the height of the golf season oversees a staff of about 60.

Reconfiguration

With the arrival of cooler weather, the country club aims more of its energies at its restaurant, The Bend at Oxbow.

“Unique to a lot of private clubs, our restaurant is open to the public,” Livingood said. “We basically focus all of our attention on that in the off-season.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555