Meet The Management
Joseph Iafe – General Manager
Joseph was born and raised in Staten Island, the youngest of 7 children. At the age of 12, 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).
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. An avid Yankees and Giants fan, Joseph enjoys golfing, amusement parks, travel, and good Italian food. Joseph is a father of three daughters.
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 enjoyed his time as Interim GM and is looking forward to working with Joseph and the team as the Director of Finance.
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!
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 later with her now two grown sons, she carries a low handicap from years of playing. Colleen’s career started in Canada as the Operations Manager for Ballantine Books, a division of Random House. Once in the US she started her 15 plus year Club career working for the PGA Tour and Club Corp properties in Tampa. When not working Colleen enjoys spending time with her husband and oldest son who live in Bonita Springs and FaceTiming with her youngest son’s family and grandchildren in Hong Kong, reading, golfing, swimming, walking and traveling.
LISA DILLINGER – MEMBER SERVICES
Lisa is in her 12th year at Estero Country Club. 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. Lisa enjoys spending time with her family including a new grandson, golfing, swimming and is a certified yoga instructor.
BEN PITTMAN, PGA – HEAD GOLF PROFESSIONAL
A native of Greenville, SC, Ben earned his bachelor’s degree from Rhodes College in Memphis, TN and an Associate’s Degree in Golf Management from the San Diego Golf Academy in Myrtle Beach, SC. He started his golf career in the Atlanta area and worked at several high-end private clubs in Georgia and North Carolina before relocating with his wife and daughter to SW Florida in 2008. Once in Ft. Myers, Ben worked for 6 years at Fiddlesticks Country Club, initially as the First Assistant and then as the Head Golf Professional. He joined the Estero Country Club family in the summer of 2014 and strives every day to continue enhancing the member experience.
Ryan Miller – 1st Assistant Golf Professional
Returning for his second season 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 played four years on the varsity golf team at Barron Collier High School and was the captain his senior year. An attendee of the 2019 Teaching and Coaching Summit, he is an avid golf instructor and brings his enthusiasm and excitement for the game to Estero Country Club. His teaching philosophy is, “small changes over time create big results”. Ryan and his wife welcomed their first child, Merrick Joy, in November of 2017. Being a father is his favorite past time, but he also enjoys surfing, basketball and cooking.
Joe Rubino – 2nd Assistant Golf Professional
Joe grew up on Long Island and moved to Estero in the Fall of 2015. He graduated from Keiser University in 2014 with an Associate’s Degree in Golf Management and is currently working toward earning his Class A status with the PGA of America. Joe worked on Long Island at North Hills Country Club for 3 summers before making the move to Naples, where he worked for 4 years as an assistant at Foxfire Country Club. He is bringing with him a passion for customer service and is excited to join the Estero Country Club team. When Joe isn’t working in the pro shop, he likes playing golf, spending time at the beach and watching golf on television.
Asa Harp – Director of Merchandising
Asa joined the Estero Country Club 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.
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 6 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 is the President of 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 21 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 Elite 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. He has been USRSA Stringer Certified, a Wilson Advisory Staff Member and currently is the League Coordinator for Lee County Mixed League. 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 at the Estero Country Club, one of the finest programs in Southwest Florida.
DOUG GEORGE – ASSISTANT TENNIS PROFESSIONAL
Doug grew up in Cape Coral, FL where he started playing tennis at the age of 4. Doug enjoyed a successful Junior career, competing throughout the S.E. United States. Prior to injury, Doug was being recruited by several colleges for soccer and tennis. After 9 years in Corporate Investigations, he realized his passion for teaching. Doug has been with Estero Country Club since 2017 and previously served as the Junior Program Director at The Club at Gateway. Doug is a USPTA Elite Certified Professional, as well as a member of the Women’s Tennis Coaching Association. He is currently working towards USTA & ITF High Performance Coaching Certifications.
JUSTIN TRENT – FOOD & BEVERAGE DIRECTOR
Justin, the son of a soldier and teacher was born in Knoxville, Tennessee. After living in Berlin, Germany for 6 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 4 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.
ALIDOR BENNETT – ASSISTANT FOOD & BEVERAGE MANAGER
Alidor Bennett has been in the private club and hotel management business for more than twelve 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.
BRANDON WHEELOCK – EXECUTIVE CHEF
Brandon Wheelock, the Executive Chef at Estero Country Club at The Vines, came to live in Florida in 1996 when he was just 8. He attended North Fort Myers High School while working at local restaurants in Cape Coral. He then joined the Army when he was 18, and was a field artillery tactical data system specialist for four years.
After returning home from a 15-month Iraq tour in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Brandon was honorably discharged from the Army. He was a member of the opening kitchen crew for the Resort at Marina Village (now a Westin Hotel) in Cape Coral. Brandon then went on to be the Sous Chef of Royal Palm Yacht Club and joined Estero Country Club as our Sous Chef in 2014. He has since obtained a degree in Culinary Arts from Keiser University and is in the process of obtaining his CEC from the American Culinary Federation.
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.
WILTON DELACRUZ – FACILITY MANAGER
Wilton has been in the construction business since 2003. Prior to joining Estero Country Club over 6 years ago he was with the HILTON chain for more than 10 years. Wilton enjoys spending time with his 3 children and when not working is travelling the world – most recently in Portugal.