Golf Course Management

APR 2013

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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front NINE 9 see more @ Peak performance: Evans conquers Kilimanjaro GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans achieved a personal milestone in early March when he reached the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, a 19,341-foot peak. Photos courtesy of Rhett Evans V v v The late Gordon Witteveen, GCSAA Distinguished Service Award recipient in 2004 and Leo Feser Award winner in 1983, has been selected for induction into the Ontario Golf Hall of Fame on May 8. Witteveen, who died in 2010, was the founding director of the Canadian Golf Superintendents Association (CGSA). He was a long-time superintendent and authored several books, including "A Century of Greenkeeping." 20 GCM April 2013 When breathing becomes a chore, it signals a red fag moment, meaning a real and present danger is at hand. No way, though, Rhett Evans would wave the white fag. Surrender was merely a nine-letter word as Evans, GCSAA's CEO, pursued a triumphant end to a journey that had him scaling heights that would make eagles jealous. Lack of oxygen prompted by ascending to extremely high altitudes certainly made Evans' task challenging — and it didn't help that he was suffering from a sore throat and bronchitis. Those maladies, however, could not prevent his legs from churning, lifting him to dizzying heights, so high, in fact, that reaching for the stars almost seemed like a distinct possibility on this odyssey. No way he was going to miss out on a once-in-a-lifetime experience. "I had no other choice but to keep climbing. I was going to crawl up to the top if I had to," Evans says. Sounds like a racecar driver who knows the checkered fag brings the ultimate reward. In those terms, Evans landed in the winner's circle. As February was turning into March, Evans achieved victory. His prize: Standing atop Mt. Kilimanjaro, the tallest freestanding mountain in the world. Along with six of his best friends, Evans climbed to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. For those who are counting, that is 19,341 feet. Check that one off the old bucket list. "Anytime you accomplish something that takes effort, planning and pushes you past your limits, you gain a sense of accomplishment that motivates you," Evans says. "Knowing that you made it, that the hard work paid off, gives you a renewed sense of belief in yourself." Evans, who has competed in Ironman triathlons, needed some serious mettle for this event. The six-day climb included passing through fve ecoclimates. For example, it was 92 degrees when Evans started. By the time he reached the summit, the wind chill was minus 4. In between, Evans took antibiotics that were provided by a doctor who was available on the trek, still lost 5 pounds, and crashed at night in a sleeping bag in a tent that was based on a bed of rocks. Oh, and he went to the bathroom in toilet shacks that made a person realize real quick there really is no place like home. Carrying a 25-pound backpack helped Evans burn calories during a stretch in which his diet was, well, interesting to say the least. "We had rooster when we got there," says Evans, noting that it tasted more like some sort of jerky, and that he tried it only once. "I lived off of protein bars, trail mix, beef jerky and GU (an energy product designed to provide quick energy)." When it is you against the mountain, there is no time to be low on fuel. Besides, GU sure beat the alternative. "They would prepare soup at every meal," Evans says, " and if I never have soup again, I would be happy." Evans obviously was ecstatic when he hiked to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, known as Uhuru Peak. Translated, Uhuru means freedom. It resulted in a truly magical moment for Evans, to be atop the roof of Africa. "We literally walked through the clouds at 17,000 feet, and as we reached the summit, they were below us," Evans says. "Looking down on the clouds is something you don't experience every day." The sun was rising as Evans stood atop Mt. Kilimanjaro, where you can see the curvature of the earth and sunlight glistens off the glaciers, creating a turquoise hue. After taking a few pictures on his iPhone, Evans placed a GCSAA Golf Championship fag atop Uhuru Peak, then he pulled out an iron, a couple of golf balls, and let it rip. "They went out into the abyss, never to be seen again, probably a lot like some of my shots on the golf course," Evans says with a grin. Speaking of smiles, Evans left those behind, too. After his group descended from Mt. Kilimanjaro, their charge was to bring some joy to members of the Masai tribe in an East African village. They came armed with soccer balls and other goodies for the children (see picture above left). "The 5-pound bags of Jolly Ranchers were a big hit," Evans says. — Howard Richman, GCM associate editor

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