Golf Course Management

MAR 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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18 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 12.18 Once upon a time, her hometown served as an industrial center in the heart of Spain's coal country. Elena C. Rivas grew up in Mieres in northern Spain. She spent summers with her grandparents, including grandfather Luis Rivas, who was a coal miner and a farmer. Elena adored the outdoors on the farm, where she mowed grass and fed animals when she wasn't hiking or fishing. As coal production diminished in Europe — Spain was severely affected when mines closed and people lost jobs — Rivas found herself climbing the ladder in a totally different industry. After seeing the growth of golf in her homeland fueled by professionals Seve Ballesteros, Jose Maria Olazabal, and Sergio Garcia — a published report showed that from 2015 to 2016, Spain had the second-highest increase in registered golfers in Europe— Rivas decided that golf was her future. "They were the first contact I had with golf, and that was what made me research and decide it was the profession for me. I wanted to be an agronomist," Rivas says. "When I was young, barely any people played golf, and now it has grown immensely." Undoubtedly, Rivas is a rising homegrown success. Rivas, who received a certificate from Michigan State University's Golf Turf Management program less than two years ago, is currently a three-year GCSAA International Superintendent Member at Son Vida, one of three championship golf courses at Arabella Golf Mallorca in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, that is supervised by head superintendent Paco Gavira. Her status is no surprise to Michigan State's David Smit - ley. "She not only has a bachelor's degree (from University of Leon in Spain), but she also has a master's in ag engi - neering (from EADE Malaga in Spain), and I've never had that (combination), plus she had practical experience on golf courses," says Smitley, a professor in the department of entomology who still communicates with Rivas about mole cricket issues at her course. They've even discussed the possibility of launching a project to import the nematode and fly parasitoid that are working well in Florida for mole cricket control. "She's just a unique person." How did Rivas come to America? She completed the internship portion of her master's at Spain's Valderrama (which hosted the 1997 Ryder Cup) and also Real Club de Golf Tenerife. Her next move was contacting the She reigns in Spain Photo by Paco Gavira

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