Golf Course Management

JAN 2019

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 01.19 intern there while studying at Penn State nine years ago before becoming an assistant for one year under Gosselin, who quickly deter - mined he had a budding star on his hands. "Every now and then you run into someone like that who makes the most of an opportunity. When he was an intern, Justin stood out among the crowd," says Gosselin, a 33-year association mem - ber. "He didn't even look like an intern. He was more mature-looking. In the summer, you could stay (at work) as much as you want. He was one who just stayed. He shadowed the assistants, soaked up everything from them like a sponge. As an assistant, he had a good demeanor and commanded respect. A lot of people sought his advice, which is the trait of a leader. He made a name for himself." DePippo's fiancée, Becca Sigal, nominated him for the Forbes list. The magazine sent him a questionnaire, asking things such as how he got started in this career, how he influences others and who has been a role model. One of the judges for the list was Los Angeles Lakers controlling owner Jeanie Buss. "They reached out to me last July. I never heard anything back," says DePippo, who is from Kennett Square, Pa., and the oldest of eight children. On Nov. 13, DePippo finally did heard back. So did the world. "I saw it posted online. I never thought it would turn out like that," he says. Russ Myers, director of agronomy at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla., had an inkling that it would turn out like that. Myers had DePippo as an apprentice superintendent, then as an assistant superintendent and later North Course superintendent at Los Angeles Country Club, which was more than enough time to assess exactly what Myers had in DePippo. "I think he can go anywhere he wants to go," says Myers, a 24-year GCSAA member, who returned to Southern Hills a few years ago for a second term. "He's an unbelievably unique, special individual, and I'm fortunate that I got to work with him. He has a natural ability to solve problems and not ask for moral support along the way. He'd come up with options and bring them to you. "The ironic thing about this honor is, Justin's not an individual who'd seek publicity, but now he's working at prob - ably the most star-struck club on the planet." The examples that Myers set were invaluable for De - Pippo. "Russ kind of paved the way for me and was a huge part of preparing me for the next level," DePippo says. "He was really good at being hands-off, doing everything from a flyover. He gave you enough responsibility, let you hold the reins, take control, figure things out by yourself." Among others who helped shape DePippo include for - mer superintendent Eric Greytok, now at Macro-Sorb Tech- nologies; Ryan Howard, then-superintendent at Hartefeld National in Avondale, Pa., who is now at Winters Run Golf Club in Bel Air, Md.; Paul Stead, CGCS, at Kennett Square (Pa.) Golf & Country Club; and industry veteran Tom Wait. "John, Russ, really all of them, taught me the importance of networking and helping young men and women in the industry to achieve their goals," DePippo says. There's one more very special mentor. Darin Bevard, director of championship agronomy for the USGA Green Section, is DePippo's stepfather. "He's the reason I first stepped foot onto a golf course. He was a big influence, but he didn't push me," DePippo says. "When I was younger, I had a self-owned lawn company — even had a business card that I made on my own computer." It's a busy time for DePippo at Bel-Air, which plays host to numerous member events and draws marquee names to the course as members, including actors Chris O'Donnell and Dennis Quaid and sportscaster Al Michaels. The club launched a massive project two months before DePippo started in December 2017, aiming to restore the original design of architect George Thomas. The work includes bunkers, tee complexes and regrassing of fairways. "We have the same goal every day. It's all about the conditions, about the golf, allowing them to enjoy it," DePippo says. FYI: Another Justin made it in Forbes — major golf champion Justin Thomas. DePippo met Thomas at a dinner in the Los Angeles area last year, and when the news broke that both Justins landed on the Forbes list, an email chain spread through Bel-Air. Thomas' agent, Lance Young, had a hand in that email. "He said, 'Look at our Justins.' That was pretty cool," DePippo says. If anything, the Forbes honor motivates DePippo, who turns 30 in August. "Everybody wants to accomplish more. It (Forbes list) pushes me to accomplish more," DePippo says. "It also reminds me I'm still young in my career, and Smeared with mud from his spot in an irrigation hole, Ryan Franklin was addressed by the future leader of the free world. Four years ago, Franklin was working as an assistant superinten - dent at Trump National Golf Club in Washington, D.C., when now-Pres- ident Donald Trump and singer-songwriter Kid Rock appeared in a golf cart. "He (Trump) was driving by and thanked us for the work we're doing and went on his way," Franklin says. It has been onward and upward since that brief but memora - ble encounter for Franklin, the GCSAA superintendent at St. Pe- tersburg (Fla.) Country Club. An eight-year association member, Franklin has a busy first week of 2019. The 93rd St. Peters - burg Invitational for collegians and local amateurs is set for Jan. 3-6. It has produced familiar champions who went on to make names for themselves. The list includes Brandt Snedeker, Bob Goalby and B.J. Holmes. "I didn't realize how big it was until I got here," says Franklin, 32, who came to the club in 2016 as an assistant superintendent before his elevation to superintendent in May 2016. "I try to give them a fair course and a quality golf course. Some greens are small. If you miss some, you're in trouble." Franklin, a graduate of Penn State's on - line program, got an eyeful of the profession by working for his uncle, Pat Franklin, CGCS, at Westwood Country Club in Vienna, Va. (he is currently the superintendent at The Meadows Country Club in Sarasota, Fla.). "His style was to put a lot of the day-to-day tasks on his assistants. He trusted them to get the crew going," Ryan says. "I've learned that as the superintendent, you are the deci - sion-maker. Growing grass is one thing. A lot of people can grow grass, but you also have got to manage a crew. That's where it takes some time and growing to do." A four-year swimmer at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., Franklin's professional dedication included a December visit to GCSAA headquarters for the annual Chapter Delegates meeting as a representative of the Florida West Coast GCSA. He leans on his crew of 11 and his yellow Labrador Retriever, Mac, for their effort and support. "I can't do what I do every day without any of them. We're fun, but we do a lot," Franklin says. — H.R. ACT ON COURSE OF 20 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 01.19 Bel-Air Country Club director of golf course and grounds Justin DePippo (second from right) is flanked by, from left, foreman Pablo Saucedo, assistant superintendent Manuel Zuniga and lead assistant superintendent Tony Cortes.

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