Mark Parsinen passed away peacefully at Enloe Hospital in Chico, CA surrounded by his wife and three daughters on Monday, June 3, 2019 after suffering a stroke at his lake home in Lake Almanor, CA. He was 70.
Mark is survived by his wife of 47 years, Deirdre Parsinen; eldest daughter Camrin and son-in-law Paul Olson; middle daughter Jennifer and son-in-law Danny Bergold; youngest daughter Samantha and son-in-law Joe Gengo; four grandchildren Garrett and Bradley Olson, Nora Gengo and Annabelle Bergold; brother Peter Parsinen; sisters Jill Bartolo and Pam Wendel; twelve nieces and nephews and hundreds of extended family and friends who loved him dearly.
Mark was one of the rare breed of developer/designer/owner entrepreneurs in the world of golf. His creative accomplishments over the past 30 years in the industry include developing Granite Bay golf Club in CA as well as developing and co-designing both Kingsbarns and Castle Stuart Golf Links in Scotland. Kingsbarns, near St. Andrews, has been ranked among Golf Magazine’s World Top 100 courses since its inception. Castle Stuart, near Inverness, was voted the world’s Best New Course for 2009 by Golf Magazine and held the European Tour’s Scottish Open four times from 2011-2013 and again in 2016.
Born in Baraboo, WI to Finnish parents, Irma and Henry Parsinen, Mark was one of five children. Raised in Minnesota, Mark played hockey, was a member of the school orchestra, captain of both the debate and hockey teams and worked as a golf caddie and member of the green keeping crew at his local course.
Parsinen attended The London School of Economics and the University of Pennsylvania where he graduated Cum Laude with a BA in Strategic Studies. He briefly returned to Minnesota where his sister introduced him to the love of his life, Dede, whom he married in 1972. Mark, Dede and their daughter Cammy later moved to California where Mark went on to earn his MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, graduating at the top of his class as an Arjay Miller Scholar.
Mark’s career “ports of call” started with the Boston Consulting Group where he headed the LA office and was VP and Partner during his BCG tenure. He later became Director of Marketing at the Adolph Coors Company. He then began his entrepreneurial career in Silicon Valley with professors from Stanford’s Electrical Engineering Department manufacturing and selling special-purpose computers. They eventually merged with Zycad, a publicly-owned and traded competitor, where Mark served as President, CEO and Director until moving to Granite Bay in 1990 and setting his sights on golf course design and development.
It was there that Parsinen developed his design philosophy: “My concept of golf is that if you don’t play a shot to an advantaged spot, you should still be able to imagine ‘success in the face of having made somewhat of an error’. You should still have hope and an opportunity for redemption, a chance to control your destiny, to go for glory or to choose a lesser path with at least an opportunity for a modicum of success.” He carried this ethos through to his next two projects in Scotland. Castle Stuart Golf Links exemplifies his philosophy in 18 holes. As Managing Partner, it was his vision to create a major golf resort at Castle Stuart and the ‘Pebble Beach of the British Isles’.
Mark Parsinen was a visionary, a genius, a mentor to many, a loyal friend, and a devoted family man. He was insatiably curious, always evolving and learning, passionate about the creative process with a keen attention to detail. He loved musicals, spinning his girls around on the dance floor, practical jokes, summers at the lake, playing golf, family dinners, story-telling and attempting to master the ‘art of indolence’, Bloody Caesar in hand. He was generous, loving, quick-witted and one-of-a-kind. He was a living example of the Finnish quality of Sisu: determined, resilient, tenacious, strong-willed, courageous and full of integrity. He will be deeply missed and never forgotten.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Mark Parsinen’s name to www.thefirsttee.org The mission of The First Tee is “to impact the lives of young people by providing educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values and promote healthy choices through the game of golf.”