OWENSBORO -- Owensboro Country Club PGA professional Jason Fitch can't remember not being around golf.

Fitch, 42, grew up adjacent to Lakeshore Country Club in Madisonville, began playing when he was 5, and has relentlessly pursued a career in golf.

"I've been around golf my whole life," Fitch said. "My dad would take me out on the golf course when I was very young, and I just loved being around the game from the start. It's carried on for a long time now."

Indeed, Fitch has been head pro at OCC since 2010, and has worked at the club since 2002, when he became assistant to former club pro Greg Flesher.

"I've really enjoyed my time here in Owensboro," Fitch said. "This is just a great town in so many different ways, and I've been here long enough now to see it grow and evolve -- I'm very happy where I am, doing what I'm doing."

Fitch has also been around long enough to see Owensboro Country Club transition.

"Our membership has changed quite a bit in the time I've been here," he said, "and we've gotten younger as the years have progressed.

"Because of this, we've put an emphasis on the family part of membership and junior golf -- getting youngsters involved with the sport at an early age."

For Fitch, this has been gratifying.

"It's nice to see these youngsters progress as both golfers and people," he said. "It's a sport that can be a big part of their lives now, and it's a sport they can enjoy for the rest of their lives.

"It's why we take their development in the sport at a young age so seriously out here."

In addition to the physical aspect of teaching, Fitch emphasizes the importance of a positive mental approach to the game.

"First, it's essential to have a positive outlook," he said. "Also, you need to have a good work ethic and you must stay focused, setting goals and trying to achieve those goals.

"In terms of teaching the swing and such, it's important to know where the individual wants to be as a golfer and how they want to progress -- and then you just take it from there."

In his mid-teens, Fitch worked as a cart boy and in the pro shop of Madisonville County Club, becoming exposed to the business side of the industry for the first time.

He played high school golf at Madisonville-North Hopkins High School under coach John Hicklin.

While certainly talented enough to play at the collegiate level, Fitch instead decided to enroll in the Golf Academy of the South (now named Golf Academy of Americas) for two years in Orlando, Florida.

"Looking back, that experience was very beneficial," Fitch said. "It provided me great insight into the business and, really, all aspects of the game. It made me more prepared for what I wanted to do with my career. Once I got out, I was able to get a position at Owensboro Country Club and I've been here ever since."

And there are no regrets.

"I always wanted to do something I loved to do," Fitch said, "and I believe it's important to be passionate about what you do for a living.

"I want to continue to grow myself and continue the education process within the PGA of America, but I'm very happy where I'm at. I consider this a wonderful place."

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