Golf Course Management

DEC 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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20 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 12.18 hockey player Jack Eichel, which appeared in the Dec. 29, 2014, issue. "I could not believe my eyes," says Gagnon, 50, about his response when he first heard his photo made the maga - zine. You also may have seen his efforts via Getty Images, a worldwide heavyweight supplier in cre - ating and distributing imagery. At the Getty website, Gagnon is credited with more than 10,000 images, including several of the Boston Red Sox. His work also has been featured on baseball cards, including a shot of now-retired Red Sox star David Ortiz. Gagnon, though, focused on teaching after he graduated with an education degree from Salem (Mass.) State University. He taught for a year in Oregon as a substitute. On days he didn't teach, Gagnon worked as a crew member at Willamette Valley Country Club in Canby, Ore. He had previous experience on the golf course, having been a caddy and grounds crew member during his youth at Salem Country Club in Peabody. Eventually, under then-su - perintendent Rich White, he was offered full-time employment at Wil- lamette Valley. "That changed everything," Gagnon says. He returned to Massachusetts, earned a turfgrass manage - ment degree from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and spent summers working at Salem CC, followed by eight years as an assistant under Kip Tyler, CGCS, a 38-year GCSAA member who remains superintendent there. In 2004, he landed his first superintendent job at Segregansett Country Club in Taunton, Mass., before being hired in 2016 at Meadow Brook. That's where the legendary Francis Ouimet won the annual Meadow Brook Invitational just a few months before stunning the world by winning the 1913 U.S. Open at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass. Through it all, Gagnon's passion for photogra - phy remained. "I was always intrigued by photog- raphy, capturing moments, opening a magazine like Sports Illustrated and seeing unbelievable images most cameras can't take," Gagnon says. "I thought, 'How far could I take it if someone put one of those types of cam - eras in my hand?'" Taking matters into his own hands, Gagnon bought a camera with a high- end lens and, with the help of his wife, Debbie (and her purse), sneaked it into a college hockey game at Matthews Arena on the campus of Northeastern University. "I tried every year to get credentialed. They ignored me," Gagnon says. A breakthrough happened in 2012. Using a new cam - era, he submitted samples to Hockey East Association, a league for college teams in the Northeast. Thanks to Dan Parkhurst and Pete Souris at Hockey East, the organization provide Gagnon with a credential, although he wasn't paid for his work that appeared on their website. He didn't stop there. Gagnon emailed Getty Images with a photo gallery. Two weeks later, he got a reply from Getty's head of hockey images, Bruce Bennett, who liked what he saw and asked Gagnon if he would serve as a college hockey contributor. No surprise: Gagnon jumped at the chance. His contributions were rewarded in 2015. Gagnon was driving his daughter Lindsey when she was checking her phone to see whether her dad won an award in the Boston Press Photographers Association's annual photo contest. "She starts screaming and punching me in the arm that I'd gotten second-place for the sports action category," Gag - non says, "then she screamed again. I also got first-place in the sports feature category for Boston U's celebration in overtime after a game-winning goal. I almost drove off the road." One image he shot received significant attention on social media. Gagnon captured Notre Dame's dogpile on the ice as it celebrated clinching a spot in the Frozen Four, which is college hockey's version of college basketball's Final Four. "They used that picture for a banner that's hanging in the rafters in the arena at Notre Dame," says Gagnon, who also has been credentialed in the past by the Hockey Hall of Fame to shoot games in Boston for the Stanley Cup playoffs. And, yes, he has shot golf events, such as the 2017 U.S. Senior Open at his old stomping grounds at Salem CC. "I had a dual role as a volunteer and as a photographer with two credentials around my neck, taking pictures of guys I grew up watching, like Nick Faldo and Fred Couples," he says. Today, Gagnon uses a Canon 1DX that, he says, takes 13 frames in one second. "It's like a machine gun, firing off Casinos. Masses of people. Taxis (and, nowadays, Ubers). Welcome to Las Vegas, where the constant din of activity is part of the legendary town's fabric. GCSAA Class A superintendent Jon Dodds encountered the noise factor there, but it had nothing to do with slot machines or poker tables. As superintendent at Bali Hai Golf Club, the course offered spectacular views of the Las Vegas Strip. It also meant the type of noise that comes with being adjacent to McCarran International Airport. "Planes took off about every five minutes. When you were out on the course, you had to talk really, really loud," says Dodds, 45, a 23-year association member. Four years ago, Dodds traded the hustle and bustle — and noise — of his job on Las Vegas Boulevard for a more serene situation. "There's not many courses where there's no houses around anymore. We have wildlife, but it's just peaceful here," says Dodds, director of mainte - nance for International Golf Maintenance (IGM) who oversees both Rio Secco Golf Club in Henderson, Nev., and Cascata Club in Boulder City, Nev., which is about 30 miles from Las Vegas. It will not exactly be quiet later this month, though, when Cascata hosts the Southern Nevada Golf Association Championship on Dec. 15-16. Ex - pect it to be immaculate. Dodds, an assistant superintendent for nearly five years at TPC Canyons (now known as TPC Las Vegas), learned a lot from that experience about how to oversee a golf course. "We'll have fast greens and course con - ditions as good as we possibly can get them," says Dodds, who will lean on superintendent Noel Villarreal at Cascata to lead tournament preparations (Evan Doughty is the head super - intendent at Rio Secco). A native of Pennsylvania who moved to San Diego at 6, Dodds earned a turfgrass management degree from the University of Arizona. He dreamed of being a professional golfer, but that didn't pan out, so he decided to prepare golf courses for others. "I came to Vegas in 1996 and told myself I'd live here no more than five years," he says. Long story short: Dodds is still in the area. He met his wife, Lori, who was working at TPC Canyons when he was there (they have a son, Jonathan). "I enjoy being outside and having courses ready like we're host - ing a PGA Tour event every day," Dodds says. "I embrace the chal- lenges of meeting the daily expectations of a very high-end, nationally ranked facility." — H.R. ACT ON COURSE OF 20 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 12.18 A collage of some of Gagnon's photos from 2015 (clockwise, from top left): Two-time Masters winner Bubba Watson; Providence College national champion John Gilmour; Boston University's Jack Eichel; and Northeastern University goalie Ryan Ruck.

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