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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54 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 08.18 "We test a range of innovative program- ming … to try to attract people to the game, both newcomers and seasoned golfers alike," Dickens says, adding that those kinds of in - novations are encouraged by Troon. To keep a course conditioned in the desert — with intense summer heat and watering re - strictions — is a challenge. "We are a member of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Pro - gram for Golf," Dickens points out. "We strive to be a good steward of the environment." In 2013, working with course designer Miller, Dickens led her staff in a conserva - tion project to remove 17 acres of turf in and around the golf course. An additional 11 ½ acres were removed in 2017, mostly from be - hind the greens and around tees. e courses at Kierland Resort are not typical desert tar - get golf courses. Hilly fairway borders fun- nel many errant shots back into play, which keeps lost balls to a minimum, improving pace of play and helping players — many of them vacationers with rusty golf swings from winter climates — score better on challenging courses. Where the girls are Dickens finds her agronomy knowledge and experience invaluable as the golf director. "Our current golf course superintendent, Dan Figueras (a 15-year GCSAA member), was my first hire, and he's done an amazing job," she says. "It's important for me to em - power our team, and I never look over Dan's shoulder, though I'm happy to lend guidance when he needs me. My agronomy background and experience as superintendent at this course can be a big help. Dan has been here five years now, and I really enjoy the exchange of ideas that we share with each other." As for there not being more women in the profession, Dickens is surprised. She points out that she believes various entities of the golf business are actively working to get more girls involved in junior programs, such as the Drive-Chip-and-Putt promotion that cul - minates at Augusta National, a program cre- ated by the Masters Tournament Foundation, USGA and PGA of America. "We have lots of junior girls getting into golf now, so we just have to find a way to di - rect a lot of them into agronomy and let them know the opportunities are there for them," Dickens says. "If nationally we can get more girls exposed to GCSAA, we can get more girls interested in our business. Nowadays, a little girl can do anything and be anything, and this is a fun and promising career." She acknowledges there are challenges in attracting young people to careers in golf course management, and not just girls: "You often have to be at work at 4:30 in the morn - ings during the summers, and I realize that is not attractive to some people." But Dickens also recognizes the many pos - itives of the business, positives she has seen up close and personal throughout her career. "I really do hope to see more women in golf course agronomy, because it's a great, great job," she says. "ere are already a lot of women in horticulture, and the transition be - tween that area and golf course agronomy is really quite seamless. I'm hopeful more women identify with the opportunity and seize it. "My career has exceeded my expectations, thanks to a game my mom introduced to me when I was 6 years old," she says. "I have loved being in the agronomy business, and a big part of my heart stays in it." Dan Gleason is a Phoenix-based writer whose award-win- ning articles have appeared regularly in national publica- tions. He teaches graduate-level fiction writing for South- ern New Hampshire University Online. Environmental sustainability has always been important to Dickens. Kierland Resort is a member of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program, and a pair of conservation projects, in 2013 and 2017, removed more than 28 acres of maintained turf in and around the golf course.

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