Mauna Kea director Josh Silliman

The remarkable thing about the golf industry is that there are so many ways of finding a place in it. For Josh Silliman, director of golf at the prestigious Mauna Kea Resorts on the Big Island, that included a stop running a storage facility in Arizona.

“Because of my dad, I’d actually been around golf my whole life,” says Silliman. “I was approached by a guy I knew from golf, who owned a storage facility. He liked my personality and asked me to run the place for him. He’d never before had it filled to more than 70 percent, but I got up to 100.”

But as with Michael Corleone and his family business, “golf called me back,” says Silliman. “After two years, I could say I tried something else and was good at it, but I knew golf is what I was meant to be doing”

Growing up in the White Mountains of Arizona, he had the advantage of observing his father Marc, who was the general manager of the semi-private Silver Creek Golf Club in the town of Show Low. So from an early age, he was learning how to play the game—well enough to win a high school regional championship—as well as how to run a golf course.

“He started me when I was about 10, picking up balls—he’d pay me so many cents per ball,” he recalls. “I eventually did everything—worked as a cart boy, then into the pro shop. I learned all the operational side from him. But more important were the social relationships you develop. He was big on customer service.”

All that pays dividends every day now that he’s in charge of overseeing all golf and maintenance operations for the top-100-ranked Mauna Kea Golf Course as well as neighboring Hapuna Golf Course. Recruited to be golf operations manager for Mauna Kea Resorts in July 2010, he was promoted to Director of Golf six months later. Since then he and his staff have forged strong relationships with both club members as well as resort guests.

He’s also impressed staff and guests with his golfing prowess, several times shooting 75 from “the far-back,” the black tees.

This is the toughest golf course I’ve ever seen,” he says. “I’ve broken par on both the front and back nines, but never in the same round. I’m going to change that.”