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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For many elected officials, the only good platform is a complicated platform. The more on the to-do list, the better. That is definitely not the case with new GCSAA President Rafael Barajas, CGCS, however. Part of that stems from the fact there are only so many new products or initiatives that can be revealed during a one-year term at the helm of the association. But the real driving force behind the focused goals that Barajas will bring into office in 2019 is the work those who came before him have already done, and what he views as the significant and effective initiatives that GCSAA already has in the pipeline. "I'm going to keep things simple. For me, this year is going to be about continuing to assist elected and paid leadership advance our profes - sion through 2020 and beyond," Barajas says. "We have some great initiatives in place right now, like the BMPs and trying to get all 50 states to establish their own by 2020. We're trying to grow membership to 20,000 by 2020. The plate is really full right now, so I don't need to come in here and reinvent the wheel. "Any mark that I leave on the association won't be a personal one by any means. I'm way more interested in leaving a collective mark, as a board of nine, and I believe we're on track to do that." If there is one effort that Barajas does have a vested interest in, however, it would be GCSAA's work to expand its international presence, to become, as the organization's official vision states, "the global leader in golf course management." Specifically, Barajas hopes to strengthen ties with golf course management professionals in Mexico, relationships that hold a particular interest for him for a variety of reasons. The obvious one is Barajas' heritage. As a native-born Mexican who has spent nearly two decades assisting other superintendents south of the border in connecting with GCSAA and the education it can offer, Barajas was especially gratified when the Mexico GCSA became GCSAA's 99th affiliated chapter in November 2017. "I've seen them come a long way in the 17 years that I've been involved with that group," Barajas says. "The best part to me is that the Mexico chapter understands the importance of education and professional development. They wanted to be affiliated with GCSAA. They wanted that education, the networking and the credibility that comes with that. They wanted to be recognized as professionals and as the most important person at a golf facility." But Barajas also sees an increased global presence as being beneficial at home, as a method to ensure the stability and long-term future of the game and the profession in the U.S. "Golf is growing internationally, at least when compared to what we're seeing here," Barajas says. "It makes sense for us to look to expand what we do so well here to these markets. We absolutely will not put an emphasis on international that leads us to neglect our domestic members and our responsibilities to them. But we have programs and services that can have a positive impact on the industry all over the world, and I feel a responsibility to let our international colleagues know about those." — Scott Hollister, GCM editor-in-chief If others see Rafael Barajas only for where he's from, they're just not looking hard enough. "I'm proud of my heritage, and I'm going to embrace all of this ... because it has a lot of positives, not as much for me, but for our profession as a whole," Barajas says. "I truly hope there are people who see me at a conference or my picture on the cover of a magazine and think, 'If he can get involved and do all these things, then I can, too.' "But I really hope most people see me as a professional who is going to have the opportunity to lead our great asso - ciation as president, who just happens to be Hispanic, instead of just as a Hispanic superintendent or the Hispanic president of GCSAA." 2018 GCSAA President Darren Davis, CGCS, at Olde Florida Golf Club in Naples, Fla., who has worked with Bara - jas on the national board for eight years, can attest to that and the many skills Barajas will bring to the table during his year in office. "Rafael's story and the ways that he utilized GCSAA to help achieve all that he has in his professional life give him a unique perspective that has been evident during his tenure on the board of directors," Davis says. "He has a passion for the Laser-focused 40 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 03.19 game of golf, the business of golf course management, and for sharing with other golf course superintendents everything that involvement with the association can do for one's career." Family affair During what was undoubtedly the biggest week of his professional life, Rafael Barajas found himself playing second fiddle to another member of his own family. And he wouldn't have had it any other way. Just a few days after Barajas was officially elected to his post as GCSAA president last month at the Golf Industry Show in San Diego, his father, Pedro, celebrated his 100th birthday. e reasons to celebrate that occasion go far beyond the obvious. Pedro and his wife, Elvira, raised a family of 14 — five daughters and nine sons. Rafael, who was the fourth youngest of those siblings, was 14 years old when the family moved to the U.S. from Mexico in 1978. at they all were able to celebrate his father's remark - able life and his own professional accomplishments at the same time during his visit to Southern California for GIS was clearly gratifying for Rafael. "It's very fitting that we were able

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