Pickleball is Thriving at Golf Clubs

You’ve heard of the PGA Pro, now prepare for the pickleball pro

Photo by Sammy Todd Dyess Photography

By Jim Bebbington

Pickleball got its nose under the golf-tent long ago, and the two sports are now treated by many Colorado private clubs as near equals.

Enter: the pickleball pro.

The sport of pickleball has grown so much in the past decade that several Colorado clubs have added pickleball pros. The Sonnenalp Club in Edwards hired pickleball pro Brandon Hearn this winter.

Hearn has been a tennis pro for 25 years. Ironically, he played pickleball as a kid in the 1980s because his parents bought a game set for their house and it included the rules and equipment for pickleball. “Then I did not hear about the game again for almost 30 years,” he said. Working at private clubs teaching tennis in Arizona, Hearn said he began to hear about the game again in the early 2010s.

The Sonnenalp Club in Edwards hired pickleball pro Brandon Hearn this winter.

Pickleball was created by a Washington state family in the 1960s when they had a badminton court but no racquets. They used ping-pong paddles and a whiffle ball. Legend has it their dog was named Pickle.

Now clubs throughout the state have built or are building courts.

“Pickleball is a little more social,” he said.

Pinehurst Country Club has a full-time pro, Heidi Gurley, who books a full calendar of drills, clinics, mixers and other events for pickle-heads. “The members love working with Heidi and the program has grown immensely under her leadership,” said membership director Tiffany Messer.

In the city of Denver several early courts had to be removed from city parks because the crowds and game noise bothered homeowners nearby. Leagues fill up quickly, and rec centers have put courts up by just stringing the nets sideways on basketball courts. One basketball court becomes two pickleball courts very easily.

Before pickleball took over everyone’s lives, Hearn was the captain of the University of Arizona tennis team. He turned pro as a pickleball player in 2018 and began teaching professionally. He teaches at Sonnenalp in the summer and Phoenix-area clubs in the winter.


Garrett Johnston, @JohnstonGarrett, is a golf journalist of 15 years and the host of the Beyond the Clubhouse Podcast with players, broadcasters and caddies.

Colorado AvidGolfer Magazine is the state’s leading resource for golf and the lifestyle that surrounds it, publishing eight issues annually and proudly delivering daily content via coloradoavidgolfer.com.

Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram