Golf Course Management

APR 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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60 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 04.19 "I played all over. You name the tour, I played on it at some point," Gilley says. "I re - ally enjoyed it, and I loved to travel, meeting new people. But at that level, it's a very dif - ficult thing. You have to be a special kind of player to even continue to play the way I was. It was a constant challenge for me." ere were other triumphs during that stretch, most notably on a day in 2005 when Gilley — playing on the Nationwide Tour at the time — and fellow Nationwide player Jerry Wood were preparing for an upcoming U.S. Open qualifier with a round of golf at Lyn - wood G&CC. Only the golf gods will know why, but the stars aligned that day, and Gilley carded two eagles and 12 birdies en route to a 55, the lowest verified round in history. He shares that honor with a host of other golfers from around the world, but it obviously re - mains a point of pride and of conversation for Gilley and his friends. "Jerry shot a 64 that day and still tells the story about the day he shot 7 under par and got beat by nine shots," Gilley says. "It was just one of those days where everything went my way." Reality bites Mini-tour victories and a piece of golf his- tory don't put much on the dinner table, how- ever. As time wore on, the ongoing challenges of playing professional golf at that level began to take their toll on Gilley and his family, and he started to consider what was next. "I wanted to stay around the game, but I told my wife that I didn't want to work in the pro shop," he says. "I had done that a little bit Jeff Wentworth, CGCS, from Pelham (N.Y.) Country Club recorded a hole-in-one on the par-3 third hole at Torrey Pines North during the Four-Ball Competition at the 2019 GCSAA Golf Championships. Ask Steve Gilley to reminisce about the biggest life moments over his 46 years, and there is a good chance that most of them took place on the golf course. Call him a golf geek, golf-obsessed or just plain golf-crazy, but Gilley has been mad about the game since first falling in love with it as a kid growing up in North Carolina, near the Virginia state line. Golf helped Gilley get into college, where he played for Virginia Commonwealth. Golf gave him a career, first as a playing professional on a host of minor league and mini-tours and now as the head golf course superintendent at Panorama Golf Club in Conroe, Texas. Golf also gave him a scare, as he suffered a stroke on a golf course, officially ending his professional playing days and solidifying his move into golf course management. Golf helped him make history as one of only a handful of players in the world to re - cord an 18-hole round of 55, the lowest on re- cord. And in February in San Diego, golf gave Gilley another memory to add to the list when he pulled away to win the 2019 GCSAA Na - tional Championship in a four-shot triumph over a pair of past tournament champions. It was the first time the seven-year GCSAA member had ever played in the event. "I wasn't sure what to expect since I had never played in the tournament before. I just wanted to play well and have some fun," Gil - ley says. "Once I was there, I quickly real- ized that it was a bigger deal than I expected, which caused me to put some pressure on my - self to perform. "To win was a huge accomplishment for me. I was just super proud to perform under pressure after not really playing much golf leading up to the tournament and not being in that kind of competitive environment for a while." Quick learner Gilley developed a passion for golf at an early age, which was an accomplishment in its own right considering that no one in his im - mediate family played the game or even had much interest in it. By the age of 9, he was playing so often that the family joined Lyn - wood Golf and Country Club in Martinsville, Va., simply to give him a place to play on a regular basis. e more he played, the better his game became, which ultimately earned Gilley a golf scholarship at Virginia Commonwealth, where he became a fixture for the Rams during his four years there. He dreamed of playing the game professionally, so after graduation, Aces were wild in San Diego A pair of GCSAA members will have memories of the 2019 GCSAA Golf Championships in San Diego that go far beyond the golf, the networking and the camaraderie of the event, thanks to holes- in-one they recorded during tournament play. During the Four-Ball Competition that opened the week, Jeff Wentworth, CGCS, recorded the event's first ace. Competing in the Four Ball II division, the 26-year member from Pelham (N.Y.) Country Club aced the par-3 third hole on the North Course at Torrey Pines. Then on the final day of the tournament in the National Championship division, Robert Hall, the GCSAA Class A superintendent at Yankee Hill Country Club in Lincoln, Neb., got his hole-in-one on the 155-yard, par-3 third hole on the Champions Course at the Omni La Costa Resort. Hall is a 16-year member of the association. — S.H. he worked two years as a teaching professional to earn enough money to support his pursuit of that dream, and then hit the road. Although he never made the PGA Tour, Gilley had plenty of memorable moments as a professional. He won 25 events on a vari - ety of mini-tours — the Hooters, the Tarheel, the Gateway, a mini-tour circuit in Canada — and got about as close to the PGA Tour as you can with 20 starts on the Nationwide/ developmental tours.

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