Golf Course Management

JUL 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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18 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 06.19 Island resources. Historic and cultural sites on the course, such as 14 Ahu, or ancient rock shrines, are preserved. The paspalum grass that Bennett oversees is intertwined with flows of black volcanic rock, historic structures and 210 protected Loko I'a (anchialine ponds), home to na- tive and migratory birds and wildlife. "Water management is definitely the most criti- cal aspect of turfgrass management, and paspalum is no different. Grass does pretty well over here. No dew. Full sun (and usually 6 to 20 inches of rain annually). Light breeze. Low disease (dollar spot is a challenge, and sod web- worms are the only insects he actively controls). We're mow- ing nonstop. We take off a handful of days (mowing). You have to manage your energy, the staff's energy. You've got to keep them fresh," says Bennett, who was introduced to golf course maintenance when he was in college at Colorado State University and working summers at Cherry Hills Country Club in Denver, where he also caddied for Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway of the Den- ver Broncos. Keeping reels freshened is imperative. "To put it into perspec- tive, if we start the season with a brand-new 7-inch-diameter reel, it will be ground down to a 4-inch-diameter reel after 12 months of maintenance," he says. Before he accepted the job at Kohanaiki, Bennett placed a call to Matt Dunmyer, who previously oversaw Sonoma Golf Club in Sonoma, Calif., where Bennett served as his second assistant. Now director of agronomy at Silverado Resort & Country Club in Napa, Calif., Dunmyer point-blank told Bennett what he thought of his chances at Kohnaiki. "I said, 'If there's one guy I know who's going to succeed, it's going to be you.' Luke was always diligent, asked thoughtful questions, and always has been eager to learn," says Dun- myer, a 25-year association member. Bennett, who turns 40 this month, has an established plan for his team. He has categories, or steps, that he hopes his crew aims to achieve. His staff features assistants Matt Kaili and John Addi- son, equipment manager Jonathan Neru and pond manager Kila Ynigues. "What I've learned from coaching staff over the years is, your 'key' team members don't need to be motivated; they only want others to be held accountable. Your 'steady' team members want to be coached up to become 'key' team members, and your 'challenging' team members need the most attention just to become 'steady' team members," Bennett says. Case in point: Johnson Ruma. He'd never stepped onto a golf course until he was hired four years ago at Ko- hanaiki. "He was humble, he was proud, and we knew we could coach him through his shortcomings," Bennett says. "Year three is when he blossomed. All of a sudden, he could mow tees really well. He started mowing greens, and he was really good at it. Fairway mowing? We gave him a shot, and he killed it. He's now one of our 'steady' team members who is excelling through our training programs at an accelerated rate. Patience was the key, and being empathetic doesn't hurt your chances of developing a dia- mond in the rough." Ruma, from the western Pacific Ocean country of Micronesia, credits Bennett for his ascension. "He is patient with me. A good boss," Ruma says. "I focus on my work. When I am done, I can look out on the course and see that I am doing well." Bennett, meanwhile, views his situation at Kohanaiki as a way to honor a beloved relative. His grandmother, Lori Hansen, never got to see Hawaii. Hansen, who died in 2008, is a major reason why Bennett, after some thought- ful deliberation about taking the job, ultimately decided to leave the mainland. "She spoke often of visiting Hawaii when she was with us, and her dream was part of my no-regrets decision," Bennett says. "After she passed, her ashes were distrib- uted to her five children in separate urns. My aunt (Lisa Welch) recently visited, and she brought one of the urns with her. The family collectively decided to pass one of the five urns on to me in agreement that it would remain here on the island as a final resting place to honor her dream, even if I eventually move on. My grandmother and me were very close, and the gravity of that family decision reinforces my deep connection to her." — Howard Richman, GCM associate editor Steve Archibald is a proud papa to children Race and Taylor. Heck, you might as well throw in Thornberry Creek at Oneida, too, as being a special part of the family. Archibald, a 32-year GCSAA member who spent more than three years in active duty in the Navy, was at Thornberry Creek at Oneida practically from the beginning. He participated in the final seeding of the course in Oneida, Wis., in 1993 as assistant superintendent and, by the time it opened in July 1994, was its superintendent. "Is it my baby? Absolutely," says Archibald, 57. Thornberry Creek at Oneida is all grown up now — and it has matured into a 27-hole public facility that features profes- sional golf. For the third straight year, the course is hosting the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic, scheduled July 4-7. A year ago, Sei Young Kim became the first player in LPGA history to go lower than 30-under-par for a tournament by recording a 31-under 257. "It (result) tells us the greens were true, players were reading putts like they're supposed to, there were no surprises, and the course was prepared the way it's supposed to be prepared," Archibald says. The tournament's choice of Thornberry Creek at Oneida buoyed him. "It kind of rejuve- nated me a little bit. I set priorities every year. With this, they increased tenfold. One thing I had to learn quickly is, you've got to take the weather for what it is," he says. Archibald's veteran staff, including 24-year assistant Pete Nowak and 22-year equipment man- ager Ed Brusky, fortify an experienced crew. It's hard to say whether Steve or his wife, Amy, was more excited about the Thorn- berry Creek at Oneida scenario. "We're both from central Illinois, so it was a chance for us to come back closer to home," says Steve, who was the superintendent at what now is Palmetto Dunes in Hilton Head, S.C. "And, second, Amy is a big (Green Bay) Packers fan." Thornberry Creek at Oneida is owned and operated by the Oneida Nation, a federally recognized tribe that has a partnership with the Green Bay Packers. "Every Thursday, I get to paint the Green Bay Packers' 'G' off to the side of the first fairway. I'm a (Chicago) Bears fan. It pains me to paint that 'G,'" Archibald says. "I play the Chicago Bears' fight song while painting that 'G.'" — H.R. ACT ON COURSE OF 18 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 07.19 Kohanaiki GCSAA Class A superintendent Luke Bennett (left) strolls the course with some of his staff members, from left, Jonathan Neru, equipment manager; John Addison, assistant superintendent; and Matt Kaili, assistant superintendent.

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