Golf Course Management

AUG 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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48 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 08.19 'People responded' Mission Hills was more than just a place to learn. Members got involved in the Har- ris Park projects. A connection was made between Harris and Kansas Golf Hall of Famer Frank Kirk, who lent his consider- able fundraising experience and connec- tions and helped establish the activity cen- ter as a nonprofit. CE Golf Design lent aid, as did the Midwest Section PGA, the architectural firm HOK and Trozzolo Communications. John Deere donated $25,000 and equip- ment. A group of members of the Heart of America Golf Course Superintendents Association held an extensive work day at the course, and First Tee of Kansas City an- nounced the course would become part of its network. First Tee started offering free lessons twice a week at Harris Park begin- ning mid-July. "I just told my story, and people re- sponded," Harris says. e community, by and large, has re- sponded in kind. While there are some obvious, tangible results — the immedi- ate neighborhood is well-maintained; one house recently sold for more than $100,000, a previously unheard-of price for that part of town; new developments are springing up around Harris Park, anchored to its green space; property values, Harris says, have gone up 100, 200, 300 percent — there are less obvious signs. Attitudes, outlooks — optimism — can't be measured. Harris shrugs. "Really, all I've done is pick up trash and cut grass. at's it," he says. "And it's changed the mindset of the community, and even people outside the community. When you really get to the heart and core of it, it's landscaping. Most people see land- scaping to this degree and say it's just not doable, or not common. But it's just grass, and the landscaping is beautiful. And it's done so much for this community and the people of this community." Harris no longer lives on Wayne Avenue. He lives downtown, in his "362-square-foot mansion," but he still very much considers himself a part of this community. Harris Park is about more than just golf. He runs basketball leagues on the court across the street for adults and youth, and he wants that to be the model for golf on the east side: designated nights for kids, fami- lies or adults-only. He has arranged a fitness Synthetic greens at Harris Park have four holes each. Tees are also synthetic, while the fairway is zoyziagrass and the rough is fescue. Photo by Andrew Hart sock all these extras, so I gave him a set of, oh, five flagsticks and five cups and flags so he could start what he was doing." at could have been the end, but it wasn't. Harris kept coming around, kept ask- ing questions. One in particular resonated with Gray. "He said, 'Hey, can I get a job?' In this industry, anyone asking for a job … anyone would take that in a heartbeat," Gray says. "He said, 'I want to learn how to take care of a golf course.'" Harris worked weekends at Mission Hills CC — his "real" job, then as now, was to find housing for the homeless for Truman Medical Center — for a season, primarily on the bunker crew. "He was always asking questions," Gray says. "He loved being on the golf course. We tried to train him on other things, but that's hard on the weekends, when you're just try- ing to stay ahead of play." A watershed moment came when a flood destroyed one of the Mission Hills greens. "It was bittersweet, because I didn't want to see what they had get ruined, but I wanted to see how they built it," Harris says. "I saw how they brought in sand and built it up."

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