Golf Course Management

AUG 2018

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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44 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 08.18 He turned 40. Aleanah graduated high school. Isaih planned to be on Carlos' vol - unteer crew for the PGA Championship. On Aug. 6, practice rounds begin at Bel - lerive. Sadly, it carries a different meaning for Arraya. Aug. 6 would have been Isaih's 21st birthday. Tragically, he passed away two years ago following an auto accident. "I was never going to talk about Isaih, but I learned that sharing his testimony, his journey, could awaken those in our indus - try," Arraya says. "ere is life outside of the golf course. And it is way more important. "Isaih was already in the business, work - ing his way through the ranks (as a crew member at Tranquilo Golf Club at Four Seasons Resort Orlando). In many ways, he was living the same life trajectory as me — broken family, felt somewhat abandoned. He and I were really bonding, working through some of those emotions, and we cleared up some of our differences. He vis - ited us in June two years ago. We rode the course together, met our club president on the first tee, and he couldn't wait to come back and be here for the first day of practice rounds on his 21st birthday. We were going to do it together. Most proudly for me, shortly after his visit, Isaih accepted Jesus Christ in his heart," Arraya says. Arraya's wife, Noemi, consoled him, but he still considered moving to Florida after Isaih died, which would have meant leaving the prospects of hosting the PGA Cham - pionship behind. "I just wanted to be near him even though he passed," he says. "Every day I think I want to be there closer to his resting place, but I know he is in heaven watching. Isaih's birth gave me purpose and focused my competitive drive to excel in this business early in my career. Now it fuels me to show others not to waste a second. When you talk about your child, that is losing someone who, in your mind, you've always positioned like, 'Hey, I'm doing everything I need, so when I'm gone, they don't have to worry about how to bury me.' But to reverse that, it's a whole different mindset. "So this (PGA Championship)? ough historically important, and people say, 'What if the weather continues to be hot and you lose grass for the championship?' … listen, I lost my son. I, like every other superintendent, want nothing more than to have the perfect-conditioned golf course on TV and for the world's best, but losing grass or not having a perfect-conditioned presen - tation for the championship are now truly in proper life perspective. "Isaih showed me how to love. I will show others that this is a way to lead. at's the superintendent he would have become." Noemi says her husband has become more family-oriented and spiritual. "Having his son by his side would have been a teach - able moment. Not being able to do that is hard," she says, "but he is just focused, and he has a switch that is on with or without the championship. It is on to share the story that life is too short. He has no choice. He is always aware of what that (PGA Champi - onship) means to the membership, what it means to be part of Bellerive, and that his staff has everything they need, especially the leadership." Arraya wants to believe that hosting a PGA Championship provides an example of growing people, and that it can be a guid - ing light for others. "It's pretty special, espe- cially coming from where I came from," he says. "Maybe it provides people with a little bit of hope, and maybe it makes a statement that you can do anything you want if you put your mind to it with good people at your side." Howard Richman ( is GCM 's associate editor. Arraya (left) is no stranger to challenges in his life and career, but he says those events — including the death of his son, Isaih, in a car accident — have given him a more healthy perspective on life and his job as a superinten - dent. Here, Arraya and team member Steve Green examine putting green conditions. GCM goes to Bellerive If it's happening in golf course mainte- nance at this month's PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, GCM and GCSAA will have it covered. Beginning Sunday, Aug. 5, real-time, behind-the- scenes reports will be available in multiple forms, including on the magazine's website (, on the Twitter accounts of GCM (@GCM_Magazine) and GCSAA (@ GCSAA), and via video work from our friends at GCSAA TV (

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