The next generation of Cowan’s may have put to rest the fears of the Birch Ridge links in Soldotna being turned into a subdivision. Pat and Myrna Cowan’s grandson Zak has returned to Soldotna with his wife Anna to be the head golf pro at Birch Ridge this summer with plans to work toward purchasing the golf course, “That’s our plan so we can continue golf at Birch Ridge for years to come. I grew up on hole number six and played every single day in the summer. My neighbor pursued a career with the PGA and I decided to pursue the PGA and golf management as well,” said Cowan.
Zak’s grandparents in 1968 were looking to relocate from Canon City Colorado, “We met Tom and Gail Smith at the Denver airport to interview for a Job at National Bank of Alaska. Tom was working for NBA at that time and Pat was working for First National Bank in Canon City. We decided to take the job and moved to Alaska in 1968,” said Myrna. “We arrived here on June 12. We came up with 4 children and a dog in a Volkswagen bus. I mention this because, Tom and Gail Smith are Zac’s maternal grandparents. Tom and Gail were the only people we knew when we arrived in Alaska and we became very close friends. Tim and Jennifer, Zac’s parents met when she was 3 and he was 5. Later in 1968 we moved to Soldotna and Pat became the Soldotna Branch Manager for NBA. Tom Smith, decided to quit the bank and Tom and Gail moved to Soldotna to build the golf course. The course was opened on May 21, 1973. Sometime later we purchased half of the course and in 1988 became partners. In November of 1993, we purchased the golf course from Tom and 1994 was our first year as the new owners. Tim and Jennifer were married in 1984 and moved to the golf course. Zac grew up on this course as did his mother Jennifer. Zac started working for us when he was 13 years old and decided to become a PGA professional and went to Las Cruses New Mexico to college. He married Anna who is also from Soldotna right here on the course. We couldn’t be happier to have Zac home to raise his boys on the golf course,” said Myrna.
Zac agrees that reaching the future of golf depends on reaching the next generation, “We need the juniors for the future of the industry and Hook a Kid on Golf that is sponsored here at Birch Ridge and is a national program is a great way to do that, I hope to continue that program with help of supporters like Bob Sizemore,” said Zac who expressed some shock at the early opening of the course this year, “I was shocked when we opened on April 14th I was thinking at least another two weeks of getting things ready. I got up here April 7th so I didn’t have much time to get things going but it’s a fantastic start to the season and the earlier you get out the better your game will become,” said the new head pro who brought with him from Seattle the latest fitting cart from Calloway for custom fitting clubs, “Shafts, heads ready for fitting and technology to take place and everyone fit up and ready to go for a great summer of golf here at the family run and fun Birch Ridge,” said Zak.