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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44 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 01.19 Top left: Tom Tanto (left) with golf course archi- tect Rees Jones (center) and Tanto family friend Csongor Horvath. Tanto and Jones have been friends for years, including the creation of Totteridge Golf Course in Greensburg, Pa. Photos courtesy of Tom Tanto Top right: Major champion Sam Snead (yellow sweater) stands next to Tanto (second from right). At the far left is former Augusta National Golf Club superintendent Marsh Benson. Bottom right: Golf icon Arnold Palmer (left) with Tanto in a snapshot that Palmer signed for him. Palmer's design company worked with Tanto's irriga - tion business several years ago. ised little hope. At that young age, Tanto made a decision that would shape his life forever. World War II had ended, but the Cold War was raging in Hungary. Russia forced its com - munist beliefs — political and economic — on Hungary. Tanto wanted no part of it. "During the war, Germany took us over. After the war, the Russians tried to take over completely," Tanto says. "Scary thing. You were afraid to say anything to anybody because you didn't know who would turn you in. It was not a life." Tanto would go on to make quite a life as a well-respected golf course builder and ir - rigation specialist. "In his prime, I thought he was probably the best," says Dick Bator, a 53-year GCSAA member who oversaw famous golf courses such as Pine Valley (N.J.) Golf Club; Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa.; and Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y. "His company did quality work, was reliable, worked sunup to sundown, and he made his presence known on a project." That it happened at all borders on miraculous. When Russia crushed a Hungarian up - rising in 1956, Tanto was 18. Less than a year later, he was gone. Tanto and friends arranged to cross the Hungarian border into Austria. With the aid of farmers, he was among thou - sands of Hungarians to flee. With virtually nothing, Tanto boarded a U.S. carrier ship for refugees. "I had no money. Didn't have a trade. Didn't speak English," he says. When the ship docked in the U.S., Tanto wept when he saw the bright lights and large buildings of New York City. "That was … oh, God," says Tanto, pausing a few seconds to regain his composure. "It's still emotional." A Greyhound bus awaited the refugees, bound for Camp Kilmer, a former U.S. Army camp in New Jersey. Tanto remained there, briefly, before the next part of his journey took him to Pittsburgh. Church members there were waiting on the refugees to provide them with a home far from home. "I took a language class at church. I learned English, but my spelling is still bad," he says, adding a laugh. "But I get by." Tanto, a U.S. Air Force medic on the side, landed his first job washing dishes at a res - taurant. That led to other jobs, such as fixing automobiles at a body shop. Later, when he

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