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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52 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 08.18 e job would also be a challenge, with three nine-hole golf courses, all designed by Scott Miller, a former designer for Jack Nick - laus. is desert oasis resort's reputation and livelihood historically relied a great deal on the conditioning of those courses. Dickens was up to the challenge, and the resort has continually thrived under her watch. And thanks in large part to that consistently excellent conditioning, a reputation spread to potential guests who knew they could count on a great golf experience for their vacations and meetings, no matter how they hit the ball. With more than 700 rooms, the Kierland Resort is family-oriented and features ameni - ties such as a water park, a full-service spa and an assortment of award-winning kids' pro - grams. But it is the facility's renowned golf program that remains the centerpiece of the resort. "We have a fabulous spa and wonder - ful amenities," Dickens says. "But our courses garner a good deal of the attention, whether with families, buddy trips or business meet - ings." Innovation encouraged Dickens had been the director of agron- omy for eight years when she was offered and accepted the job of the resort's director of golf in 2013. at is a fairly rare kind of leap, to go straight from agronomy to directing the entire golf program at a big resort, without a transi - tion, without passing "Go." What helped qualify Dickens for that leap was her completion of Troon's LEADer Pro - gram, (Leadership, Education And Develop- ment), which grooms Troon employees to be future general managers. ose invited to go through the program must be nominated and must have been with Troon at least one year while showing strong performance, having flexibility in their career goals, being willing and able to relocate and being role models in Troon's leadership culture. at was Nancy Dickens. "With my agronomy background and my business degree, this was a great training pro - gram for me," she notes. And it paid off. As Kierland Resort's direc - tor of golf, Dickens has a load of responsibili- ties and wears a lot of figurative hats. She is responsible for the overall strategy and direc - tion of the club and supports the entire golf course team and facility. She is also in charge of revenue management, sales and marketing; the overall guidance to the turf team; and the staff's training and management. "In my job, every day is a new experience and a different one. But the one constant is that the expectations here are always high, and as such, our team aims to make sure every guest leaves feeling they have had their best golf experience to date," Dickens says. Meeting those lofty expectations is made somewhat easier by the fact that Kierland Resort, by design, "is a fun place," Dickens explains. "We are not afraid to try new and different things in the hopes of creating an experience that is, above all, fun, memorable and unlike anything guests have experienced previously." For example, Kierland Resort years ago experimented with air-conditioned golf cars (air-cooled by ice through a blower) for hot desert summer play and now offers Segways and Turf Rider scooters as alternatives to tra - ditional golf cars. Left: Dickens has entrusted the day-to-day agronomic care of the golf course at Kierland Resort to superintendent Dan Figueras (left). "(He) was my first hire, and he's done an amazing job," Dickens says.

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