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.

Issue link: http://gcmdigital.gcsaa.org/i/1085621

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20 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 12.18 Royal Spanish Golf Federation's Green Sec- tion director, David Gomez, who helped se- cure her a spot as a gardener and technician at the organization, which two years later awarded her a scholarship to Michigan State. "Studying at MSU completely changed the way I saw college. American studies are much more oriented to prepare you for the workplace and are more dynamic and interactive than what I was used to in Spain," says Rivas, who is among approximately 65 students who have come from Spain to Michigan State. "It's very important to me in that they (Spanish stu - dents) came from a long way away, come to a relatively cold climate from what they're used to and to a language that isn't a native language, and yet they often make the best grades in the class," says Michigan State's Trey Rogers, Ph.D., professor of turfgrass science and management. "Elena was no different." While she was at Michigan State, Rivas worked as an intern from April to August at Piping Rock Club in Locust Valley, N.Y., which buoyed her knowledge and has come in handy at Son Vida. "It helped me discover the American work model, especially new management techniques for personnel as well as machinery and also how to develop turfgrass management programs that were new to me," Rivas says. Son Vida is an 18-hole, par-71 public course that usually draws a minimum of 100 rounds daily. Rivas and her crew of 13 oversee creeping bentgrass greens, bermudagrass fairways overseeded with ryegrass, bermudagrass rough, and bunkers that now are being renovated with the Better Billy Bunker method and silica sand, which is a USGA recommendation, Rivas says. The club also is renovating the Nos. 10 through 18 tees. For irrigation, Son Vida has a reverse osmosis plant in which water is treated before Rivas uses it. A main challenge for Rivas and her crew is that the course is in the middle of a residential area, in close proximity to houses, which means they can't make noise early in the morn - ing and have to start later than normal. Ten-year GCSAA Class A superinten - dent Dan Powell, who oversaw Rivas at Piping Rock, is proud to see that she is making a special kind of noise in the in - dustry. "She is very bright, and there was no stopping her from anything work-related. She was a breath of fresh air," Powell says. — Howard Richman, GCM associate editor New Jersey chapter aids one of its own It caught GCSAA Class A superintendent Pat McMa- hon off guard, but those who were there to protect and support him just do these kinds of things for their own. McMahon was presented a check for $45,000 in Jan - uary from the GCSA of New Jersey Foundation to help his family during a difficult time. Pat and Susanne McMahon's daughter, Madison (pictured with dad above), was only 22 months old when she underwent a 10-hour brain surgery in late 2017 to remove a tumor. The biopsy confirmed that it was craniopharyngioma, which is an aggressive, but benign, self-contained tumor that grew from the pitu - itary gland. Madison was among the youngest confirmed cases to have that type of tumor. At this point, McMahon's peers intervened. "We were overwhelmed by the support," says McMa - hon, a 13-year association member who oversees Eagle Ridge Golf Club in Lakewood. "We have a really good local chapter, and it (foundation) is a really good thing to have, but I never thought we'd be the recipient of it. Everyone in our organization just sticks together, and we do what we have to do to get by." Madison, whom Susanne calls their "warrior princess," suffered significant vision loss from optic nerve damage Nineteen-year GCSAA Class A superintendent Mike Epps embraces the circle of giants who influenced him. He certainly knew how to make one of those in the loop smile. "My folks owned a nine-hole par-3 in the late '70s," says Epps, re - ferring to Southern Breeze Plantation in Stoneham, Texas. "We were way out in the sticks. When I was young, I did some golf course maintenance there." His father, Robert, didn't just own the place; he was superintendent and simply couldn't contain his laughter while watching his son mow a green. Speaking of going round and round … "It was a rotary deck mower. I mowed it in a cir - cular pattern, like a giant cinnamon roll," Epps says. "He had to explain some things to me after that, but I think he thought it was amusing." Nowadays, Epps provides the entertainment for golf - ers at Mira Vista Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas. An- nually, March is a hotbed for young and promising fe- male golfers at Mira Vista — and its signature-event namesake is someone who has made a difference in Epps' life and career. The 20th annual Kathy Whitworth Invitational, slated for March 10-12 and benefiting Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Tarrant County, showcases 72 of the top junior female golfers in the world. Past champions include current LPGA players Paula Creamer and Brittany Lang. Epps and his wife, Tracy ("She's angelic, puts up with my hours," he says), are parents of Emilie and Thomas. Mike, a past president of the North Texas GCSA who studied agron - omy at Texas A&M, was shaped by icons: Whitworth totaled 88 career wins (including six majors) and was a seven-time LPGA Player of the Year. Before Epps arrived in 2003 as su - perintendent at Mira Vista, he was groomed as an assistant from 1998 to 2002 at Champions Golf Club in Houston (which hosted events such as The Tour Championship and U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur) by the legendary Charles Joachim and club founder/ major champion Jack Burke Jr. And four-time Oklahoma State All-American Lindy Miller was the golf pro at Mira Vista when Epps started there. Along with Epps' dad, all of them helped guide his journey. "I've been blessed to engage with people like all of them," says Epps, 48. "All of them have a drive, a passion, to grow the game. It's inspiring." — H.R. ACT ON COURSE OF 20 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 03.19 Elena Rivas (fourth from the right) poses with some of her Michigan State University class- mates. At MSU, Rivas says she learned about the "American work model," which she says differed from that which she learned in her native Spain. Photo courtesy of Michigan State University

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