Dave Cooper fuels retirement with a daily dose of golf.
Prospective employers always look at your resume. Sometimes they look in your golf bag, too.
Just ask Dave Cooper, a resident at The Cliffs at Keowee Springs, now retired, whose career highlights include stints as vice president of operations at Titleist and Cobra Golf, and president of Brainstorm GOLF.
“Oh, yes,” laughs Cooper, recalling a round of interviews at Titleist that was, quite literally, a round of golf with the company president and heads of sales and R&D. “We were on the first tee. They all looked in my bag and saw my clubs—I think I had TaylorMade woods, maybe NikePro irons, Hogan wedges, and a Ray Cook putter (designed by Scotty Cameron before he became famous)—and they said, ‘Okay, that is going to change quickly!’”
Cooper won the match AND the job. His first assignment was to head straight to Titleist’s fitting center, where he was outfitted with a whole new set of clubs, and then to Scotty Cameron to be fit for a putter.
Cooper had discovered golf as a young twenty-something, while working his way up to partner at Accenture. He’d been captain of the lacrosse team at Virginia Tech—where he earned a bachelor’s degree as well as an MBA—but after years of team sports, golf offered “a different kind of challenge.”
“Golf is you against the course,” Cooper says. “There’s nobody hitting a ball past you or knocking you over. If you perform well, the outcome is good; if you don’t perform well, it’s on you. I find that intriguing.”
Cooper grew his game while also growing a reputation as one of the country’s top executives in supply chain optimization. Getting recruited by Titleist set the course for work that married professional acumen to athletic passion.
“Some people warn against taking your hobby and making it your career,” Cooper acknowledges, “but I loved working in an industry that’s all about equipment I use almost every day. It was so satisfying to focus my expertise—supply chain management and operations—on a product that genuinely interests me.”
After working through the sale of Cobra to Puma and then Titleist to FILA Korea Ltd. in 2011, the change teed up a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Cooper to venture out with a start-up company, Brainstorm GOLF.
“I’d always worked with major, established companies. Being part of a start-up was completely different. As President/COO, I learned the nitty-gritty of setting up a brand-new company,” Cooper says, everything from R&D to product launch, even packing up orders, affixing mailing labels, and carrying boxes to the UPS store. “It was an incredible experience.”
Brainstorm developed six patents, most notable a four-way adjustable putter with an app that studies your golf swing to determine proper adjustment. While the company has ceased its own operations, Cooper and his partners remain optimistic about selling the patents to another manufacturer.
Prepping for early retirement, Cooper and his wife, Kryssa, spent three years “lake hunting” throughout the Southeast, a quest that ultimately brought them to The Cliffs at Keowee Springs.
“We found Keowee Springs and moving here was THE smartest decision we ever made,” Cooper says. The couple entertains a steady stream of visitors—two adult sons plus plenty of family, friends, and colleagues—and “everyone who comes here falls in love with the area and the lake. This really is a slice of heaven.”
The location is ideal for Kryssa’s commute to Clemson University, where she works for the school’s division of student affairs, and even more ideal for Cooper’s retirement goal to spend as much time on the golf course as possible.
“I’ve played all seven of The Cliffs courses and I enjoy each one for its own unique features,” Cooper says. “They’re all very different from each other, with unique challenges that keep your interest and keep you focused. The course maintenance staffs are brilliant—I marvel at how well the courses are maintained.”
Asked for a quick description of each, he says:
- Keowee Vineyards: a gem on the lake
- Keowee Falls: great layout with very undulating greens
- Keowee Springs: a classic tree-lined course
- Valley: like Keowee Springs, but a little harder and longer with water
- Mountain Park: great blend of links-style and American course architecture
- Walnut Cove: absolutely stunning
- Glassy: hilly track with amazing views
Having worked in the golf equipment industry, Cooper wouldn’t want to be retired anywhere else.
“What The Cliffs offers is amazing,” he says. “It’s a gem, the ability to belong to seven golf clubs that work together as one.”
This story was featured in Cliffs Living magazine. To read more stories like this one and learn more about The Cliffs, subscribe here.