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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44 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 03.19 So that's what he did, on both fronts. Barajas developed into an excellent, low-handicap player who still tees it up as often as his schedule allows. And he began to get serious about improving his skills as a golf course superintendent, using as many avenues for that education as was necessary. "We had no idea how far he was going to be able to go in the industry," says his brother Hector. "When he first started working in golf, it was definitely just a job. But when he got those golf clubs and fell in love with the game ... well, the rest is history." An educated effort e relationship Barajas built with American Golf in Long Beach ultimately led to a nine-year stint with the com - pany, managing various golf courses under its watch. From there, he took an opportunity to help build and grow-in a golf course in Arizona. When that venture ended, he returned to California and worked at golf courses in both the Palm Des - ert and San Diego areas. Not surprisingly, this stage of upward mobility in Barajas' professional life was made possible by his new-found dedica - tion to education and involvement, steps which also helped set the stage for his move onto the GCSAA board and, ulti - mately, his election to the association's presidency. Not that any of that was on his mind when he began that journey. "I did not have a plan," Barajas says. "My only plan was always to just be the best I could be, to always partici - pate, to always leave things better than when I came in. To at- tend meetings and to continue my professional development. Being on the board or becoming president was never a plan. I just wanted to keep improving myself." Early on, that largely meant attending local chapter meet - ings, which Barajas calls "the beginning of my education." He became a regular face at these meetings, devouring whatever content was being shared, taking advantage of every network - ing opportunity. "When I first started, I was the youngest at every meet - ing," he says. "I was 20 years old. People looked at me like, 'Who's this guy?' It was mostly older white guys, so yeah, I felt awkward in the beginning. But I figured, 'You know what? ey'll get used to me.' And they did. I didn't give them a choice. I just kept showing up. "My priority became ... getting myself education and making sure I did the things that needed to be done to re - main relevant in the industry. I decided I was not going to miss an opportunity to learn because I didn't have that formal education." at ongoing dedication to self-improvement reached its peak in October 1990, when Barajas earned his status as a Certified Golf Course Superintendent. "It was 10 years from the time I started in golf, not really knowing anything about it, to the time I earned my certification," Barajas says. Home sweet home In 1995, Barajas was able to plant long-term roots in the golf course management business for the first time, accepting the job overseeing maintenance at Hacienda GC (where his good friend Martinez now works). He viewed that as the logi - cal payoff for his single-minded focus on ongoing improve- ment throughout the first part of his career, but also a spot that could be a launching pad for even greater successes. At Hacienda, Barajas displayed skills that revealed a fully matured superintendent, one who successfully balanced the agronomic, business and personnel management sides of the business, says Frank Cordeiro, then Hacienda's chief operat - ing officer and general manager, who now serves as the COO at Diablo (Calif.) Country Club. The senior leadership at Boca Grove includes (from left to right) current club president Randy Miller; Barajas; Shawn Costello, Boca Grove's director of golf; and Michael Gibson, the club's general manager. Photos by Montana Pritchard

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