Meet the Management
Joseph Iafe, CCM, CAM, General Manager
Joseph was born and raised in Staten Island, the youngest of seven children. At the age of twelve, he began playing golf at Dyker Beach Golf Club in Brooklyn, New York. Joseph began his career in hospitality at the Longboat Key Club & Resort in Sarasota and was promoted to Director of Banquets, overseeing food and beverage operations. After eight years Joseph became Club Manager at The Founders Golf Club in Sarasota. Since then, he has held General Manager positions at Harborwalk Yacht Club in West Galveston Bay, Texas, The Venetian Golf and River Club in Venice, and most recently at Treviso Bay in Naples. In 2017 Joseph earned his CCM (Certified Club Manager) designation from the Club Managers’ Association of America and holds a Florida license as a Community Association Manager (CAM). An avid Yankees and Giants fan, Joseph enjoys golfing, amusement parks, travel, and good Italian food. Joseph is a father of three daughters. His oldest, Natalie, 18, recently matriculated at FSU, middle daughter, Alexandra, 17, is preparing for her own college career while the youngest, Sophia, 12, loves riding the roller coasters at Busch Gardens with her father.
Daniel Newman – Director of Finance
Daniel was born in The Bronx, New York. He attended St. John’s University in Queens where he graduated in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting. Upon moving to Cape Coral shortly after graduation, Daniel worked for Lennar Corporation for 12 years. His jobs in the Country Club business include Assistant Controller at Miromar Lakes, Controller of West Bay Club for 8 years and Controller at Grey Oaks. Daniel’s wife Jennifer works at FGCU as the Lab Assistant in the School of Nursing. Their children Brandon and Shane both live at home in Fort Myers and both attend FGCU. In his spare time Daniel loves to spend time with his family. He is an avid reader with eclectic tastes from biographies of Washington, Hamilton and Grant, to his love of Stephen King and Joe Hill. Daniel is also an avid sports fan. Not a day goes by without him supporting his beloved St. John’s Red Storm, New York Giants or the San Francisco Giants. Daniel is excited about his opportunity at Estero Country Club, and he looks forward to spending many years with the Club.
Gina Delevieleuse – Accounts Receivable/Payable
Gina is originally from Waterbury, CT, but as an Army brat, moved around every three years. Moved to the Fort Myers Area in 1993 with her husband and they haven’t missed the New England weather since! She has been employed at Estero Country Club in the accounting department since 2008. When not at work, she enjoys fishing, boating, beaches, traveling, family, and is a huge New York Yankees fan!
Ben Pittman – Head Golf Professional
Ben is a native of Greenville, SC and earned a BA from Rhodes College in Memphis, TN in 1993. While working in sales after college, he was re-introduced to the game of golf which became his passion and eventually led him to the San Diego Golf Academy to earn a degree in complex golf operations. After graduation from SDGA, Ben started his career as an assistant in the Atlanta area and went on to work for Currahee Club and the Cliffs Communities before coming to SW Florida. Ben, his wife, and daughter came to Village of Estero and Fiddlesticks Country Club in 2008. Originally hired as the First Assistant, Ben has served as the Head Golf Professional for the past three seasons. Ben brings with him a hunger for enhancing golf operations and, in turn, the member experience.
Ryan Miller – 1st Assistant Golf Professional
Joining the golf department team this year as the First Assistant Golf Professional is Ryan Miller. Ryan is a born and raised Naples Native who has over 10 years of experience in the industry. He is a second-generation golf professional who is making the move from a First Assistant position in Naples. Ryan played four years on the varsity golf team at Barron Collier High School and was the captain his senior year. He is an avid golf instructor and looks forward to bringing his enthusiasm and excitement for the game to Estero CC. Ryan and his wife welcomed their first child in November of last year. Being a father is now his favorite past time, but he also enjoys surfing, basketball & cooking.
Asa Harp – Director of Merchandising
Asa joined the Estero C.C. staff in October 2018 as the Director of Merchandising. She is responsible for all Golf Shop retail operations. Prior to coming to Estero Country Club, Asa served as a Golf Merchandiser in Naples FL. Asa grew up in Bonaire, Georgia and is an avid college football fan. She holds a B.A. in History and currently lives in Bonita Springs with her husband and son. She is an active member of the Association of Golf Merchandisers (AGM), and has a lifelong passion for the golf business.
Colleen Sowerby – Membership Sales Director
Colleen grew up in Toronto, Canada, and her love of the game of golf started early. She played with her two brothers and both parents and carries a low handicap from years of playing. Her husband David and two, now grown sons, Michael and Blake were the family foursome during all of their family vacations and are now teaching Michael’s wife Kristy and Blake’s new wife HeYan the game to enjoy for a lifetime. Colleen most recently worked at country clubs in the Tampa Bay area and looks forward to growing the membership at Estero Country Club.
Lisa Dillinger – Member Services Manager
Lisa has been employed at Estero Country Club for eleven years. Her previous experience in the golf business comes from serving as the Executive Director of the Mississippi Valley Golf Course Superintendents Association in St. Louis, Missouri, which was her home before Florida. Member services were also part of her position when she was employed by Phyllis Schlafly at Eagle Forum, an American, pro-family organization based on traditional values.
T.J. Shine – Golf Course Superintendent
Originally from St. Clair, Michigan, T.J. Shine attended Michigan State University where he graduated with a degree in Turfgrass Management. After graduation, he worked as a groundskeeper in minor league baseball for a year before moving to Florida to pursue his passion as a Golf Course Superintendent. T.J. worked as an Assistant Superintendent in Naples for six years and then proceeded to North Ft. Myers where he served as a Golf Course Superintendent for seven years. T.J. prides himself in continuing education and currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Everglades Chapter of the Golf Course Superintendents Association. The attention to detail is what T.J. believes separates an average golf course from an elite golf course. T.J. will be devoted to bringing the best playing conditions possible to our membership. When not at work he enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.
Cliff Thweatt – Assistant Golf Course Superintendent
Cliff Thweatt joined Estero Country Club in June of 2017 as the Assistant Golf Course Superintendent. He has been working in the golf course industry for the past nineteen years and brings with him a wealth of knowledge and hands on experience. His travels have taken him to courses in North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. Cliff is originally from Vero Beach, Florida and is an avid golfer himself, once holding a +1 handicap while playing in many Florida State Golf Association events including qualifying and placing in a Florida Mid-Am Tournament and once qualifying for a Nationwide Tour event. When he is not on the course, Cliff enjoys surfing and fishing.
Thomas Funk – Director of Tennis
Thomas has been a Top Rated USPTA Tennis Professional since 1983 and was the Founder and Past President of the local Lee County Community Tennis Association. Thomas has worked with the USTA as a National Tournament Director, Junior Tournament Director and referee. In his career as a Tennis Director, he has directed the programs for several different types of facilities; corporate clubs, the City of Cape Coral and now is using his vast experience to bring to the Estero Country Club one of the best programs in all of Southwest Florida.
Doug George – Assistant Tennis Professional
Doug grew up in Cape Coral, FL where he started playing tennis at the age of 4 and competitively by the age of 8. While coached by ECC Director, Tom Funk, as well as coaches from some of Florida’s Elite Academy’s, Doug achieved a Top 20 Florida ranking throughout most junior divisions. He competed 3 times in the prestigious Bobby Curtis Junior State Championships, as well as receiving invitations to several National Level Junior events. More recently, Doug has worked for another club in Fort Myers as an Assistant Pro working with high-performance juniors and various levels of adults. Doug is passionate about teaching and is determined to receive certifications in High Performance Coaching and Cardio Tennis. Off the court, Doug is interested in earning his MBA in Sports Management.
Justin Trent – Food & Beverage Director
Justin was born in Knoxville, Tennessee into a military family. After living in Berlin, Germany for six years his family moved to Tampa, Florida and finally settled in Southwest Florida. Justin has held many positions at clubs and resorts in the area before joining our team. After four years as our Executive Chef, Justin is now Estero Country Club’s Food and Beverage Director. When not at the club, Justin enjoys the great outdoors, traveling, photography, home renovations and spending time with his wife and growing family.
Brandon Wheelock – Executive Chef
Brandon came to Florida at the age of eight in 1996. He attended North Fort Myers High School while working at small, local restaurants in Cape Coral. He joined the Army at the age of eighteen, where he was a field artillery tactical data system specialist for four years. After returning home from a fifteen-month Iraq tour in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, he was honorably discharged from the Army. Brandon was a member of the opening kitchen crew for the Resort at Marina Village (now a Westin) in Cape Coral. Brandon then went on to be the Sous Chef of Royal Palm Yacht Club. He came to Estero Country Club as our Sous Chef four years ago and has since obtained a degree in Culinary Arts from Keiser University in Sarasota.
Dennis Smith – Sous Chef
Born in New Jersey, Dennis made his way to Florida as a young teenager. From the age of 10 he began earning money with a paper route and as soon as he was able, Dennis was professionally creating food as a pizza cook. He’s been described by previous employers as the “Best Grill Cook in Lee County”, he made his Sous Chef debut at a beach pub then on to other high-end restaurants in the area and finally landing here at Estero Country Club. Dennis has been on staff since 2014 as our own outstanding grill cook until promoted to Sous Chef.
Alidor Bennett – Assistant Food & Beverage Manager
Alidor Bennett has been in the private club and hotel management business for more than six years. He has a passion for service and is excited to meet all our members and provide them with “a home away from home” experience. When not working, Alidor spends his time with his wife and two wonderful children.