By Ken MacLeod
Rob Yanovitch, the director of golf at Shangri-La Resort since 2011, has resigned to accept the general manager position at Twin Hills Country Club in Oklahoma City.
Yanovitch, 54, started at Shangri-La when Eddy Gibbs purchased the property and has been there to run the golf operations and more as the resort blossomed into one of the nation’s best, with 45 holes of golf including 27 on the championship course and the 18-hole par-3 The Battlefield that opened this year.
“I’ve been here through the entire renovation and really proud of what’s been accomplished and excited for the future here,” Yanovitch said. “At the same time, this is a great opportunity and it was time for me to move on.”
Yanovitch had been commuting to Shangri-La daily from his home in Owasso and his wife works for an eye institute in Oklahoma City. His son Ilya is a 14-year-old hockey player for the Oklahoma Junior Warriors based in Oklahoma City, so a move there made complete sense from a family perspective.
Yanovitch will replace Paul Hughes who is retiring at the end of 2023. Director of Golf Kevin O’Brien said the membership, staff and administration is all excited to have Yanovitch come back to where he was an assistant professional from 2001-06.
“The club is extremely happy to have Rob coming our way,” O’Brien said. “Paul has done an amazing job for the club in his tenure and everybody that knows Rob expects that to continue. He’s going to be great for the club.”
Twin Hills, designed by Perry Maxwell on 160-rolliing acres and opened in 1923, is one of the state’s oldest and most historic courses. It hosted the PGA Championship in 1935. Part of the original clubhouse still in use caught fire in 2021 and has been renovated. Yanovitch comes into a situation where the membership is full with a waiting list and the club is in a good position.
“It’s a comfortable move in that the club is in great shape,” Yanovitch said. “There’s a lot of exciting things we’ll be taking a look at but it’s more turning the screw a notch to make things that are already good even better. They’ve got a young membership with some fresh ideas while also a lot of members who have been around a long time.”
Mike Williams, director of communications and government relations at Shangri-La, commended Yanovitch on the outstanding work he has done at Shangri-La.
“Rob is one of the best in the industry and we’re going to miss him,” Williams said. “He’s done an incredible job here.”
Shangri-La has moved personnel around for now but has not announced a new director of golf as yet.
Yanovitch worked for Buddy Phillips at Cedar Ridge Country Club in Tulsa from 1992-95 before going into film production for five years. He jumped back into the golf business as head professional at Lonnie Poole Golf Course at North Carolina State University from 2007-2011 before returning to Oklahoma when Gibbs purchased Shangri-La in 2011.
“There hasn’t been one day since I’ve been here that we weren’t building something to make this place better,” Yanovitch said. “It’s an incredible story and I was glad to be a part of it.”