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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46 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 03.19 "Rafael's ability to assess and dissect complex issues and explain them to others with simplicity was a skill that helped our team at Hacienda Golf Club succeed, no matter the challenge," Cordeiro says. "His talent and leadership, com - bined with his passion for the club and our industry, left a lasting impression on the membership and on our team of employees there." During his time at Hacienda, Barajas also finally dived into higher education, earning a turfgrass management cer - tificate from the University of California, Riverside. Interest- ingly, it was a program he partially helped develop as an advi- sor to the school during the program's creation. When one of his assistants at Hacienda expressed an interest in earning a certificate for himself, Barajas figured the time was right for him to do the same. "I thought, 'If I'm going to be supportive of his enroll - ment, I should just go and do it myself,'" he says. "So I did, not because I felt like I needed to prove anything to any - body, but because I felt like it was going to make me a better professional." It was also at Hacienda where Barajas began a journey that ultimately would lead to the GCSAA presidency. After benefiting so much from involvement at the chapter level, he decided it was time to give back through board service, first with the GCSA of Southern California, then his state chap - ter, the California GCSA, and, ultimately, a successful run for a spot on GCSAA's national board of directors, which he joined in 2011. Making the move After nearly two decades at Hacienda GC, Barajas no- ticed that his eyes had begun to wander, that job postings he used to ignore were becoming more and more interesting to him. He began to think that a change might be in order. at wanderlust had nothing to do with his situation at Hacienda, Barajas insists. "I had a phenomenal job at Haci - enda, a great employer who was extremely supportive of all my professional development and the things that I wanted to do," he says. "We had a great relationship." Still, the time seemed right. His four children — a daugh - ter, Veronica, and three sons, Daniel, Rafael Jr. and Marco — were grown and out of the house, leaving him and his wife, Yolanda, to focus on their future. Also, because both of them had spent most of their adult lives in Southern Califor - nia, a change of scenery held legitimate appeal. And as fortune would have it, about that same time, he learned about the open position at Boca Grove. A move all the way across the country to Florida was never at the top of the list for Barajas — he had studied openings in Arizona and Texas, but had hardly even considered the Sunshine State. But with the encouragement of longtime colleague David Gourlay, CGCS, who had previously served as the general manager at Boca Grove, Barajas applied for the job. e en - tire process was brief — a pair of Skype interviews and a trip to Florida for a face-to-face meeting in less than a week's time — but before he and Yolanda knew it, he had been of - fered the job. Top left: Frank Maddalena (left), who was Boca Grove's president in 2018 and served on its board of directors when Barajas was hired as director of golf course operations in 2015, says Barajas' GCSAA board service is "a tribute to him and what he's accomplished over the years." Top right: Barajas with his top lieutenants in the maintenance department at Boca Grove, Corey Hibbert (left), second assistant superintendent and a one-year GCSAA member, and Jose Nava (right), assistant superintendent and a 14-year member of GCSAA. Bottom Right: Boca Grove features over 400 single-family homes whose residents take advantage of a host of amenities, which include the club's 18-hole championship golf course.

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