Golf Course Management

JUN 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 @ Grange, Ga. "Back in the day, Lake City was a trendsetter. That set it apart." Piersol, meanwhile, does his best to remain upbeat. "Our program isn't going to go away," he says. — Howard Richman, GCM associate editor Green Start Academy accepting applications Ken Mangum, CGCS, is a graduate of Lake City Community College, which is now called Florida Gateway College. Photo courtesy of John R. Piersol V v v Golf Digest is launching its "Time for Nine" initiative this month. The campaign, supported by the USGA and PGA of America, encourages more nine-hole rounds. "The real message is don't let the inability to play 18 pull the game away from you," says Golf Digest chairman and editor-in-chief Jerry Tarde. "Eighteen is great. But nine is fine." 22 GCM June 2013 Famed turf college hopes to rally For Hank Kerfoot, what made Lake City (Fla.) Community College so special was those who came to learn had a head start. "The idea that you had to be in the industry one year to even be considered for enrollment, that you could bring real-life experiences to the table when you got there, made it special," Kerfoot says. "The enthusiasm was incredible." It was more than 20 years ago when Kerfoot, currently owner of Modern Turf in Rembert, S.C., and a 23-year affliate member of GCSAA, graduated from Lake City, which has since changed its name to Florida Gateway College. The honor roll of those who graduated from Lake City is, if anything, impressive. The list includes Ken Mangum, CGCS, at Atlanta Athletic Club; Mike Crawford, CGCS, at TPC Sugarloaf; and Tim Hiers, CGCS, at The Old Collier Golf Club. More has changed at Florida Gateway College, however, than just the name. Fewer potential students are showing interest in the turf program, which has become an alarming issue, so much, in fact, that the college announced it has suspended its Turf Equipment Management program. "We are suspending it until we can come up with a strategy to recruit students for this career," says John R. Piersol, executive director of industrial and agricultural programs at Florida Gateway College. Piersol, a staple of the college since 1974, remembers the days when the college had a waiting list to enroll students in its fagship Golf Course Operations program. "We'd accept 30, 35 a year," Piersol says, "and we'd have another 35 waiting to get in. I've been here 39 years and never had to talk a student into taking the golf course program. It is just harder to fnd students who are interested." This spring's senior class is 12 students, Piersol says. He expects the fall semester class to be in the range of 18 to 20 students. By that time, the program will have returned to its original format, which is a two-year associate degree program. It started that way when the golf course-related program launched in 1967, but changed to a three-year program in 1978. Piersol hopes a two-year program will be more attractive in the recruitment of potential students, which never was an issue years ago. "It's just a different world out there now," says John Holmes, a graduate of the college who now is president of Atlas Turf in La Nearly a decade ago, a handful of golf course management representatives in North Carolina proposed an idea to Bayer Environmental Science about offering assistant golf course superintendents the opportunity to learn more about their trade from the best in the business. So, in 2004, the frst Future Superintendents Academy was launched. Forty-two assistant superintendents were brought to the Bayer Environmental Science Development and Training Center in Clayton, N.C., for the program that was sponsored by Bayer and Smith Turf & Irrigation, a Toro distributor. The event was intended to provide technical seminars and networking possibilities for the assistants. The Future Superintendents Academy lasted until 2010, but by then there was another similar event that outlasted it — and continues to this day. The eighth annual Green Start Academy, co-sponsored by Bayer and John Deere Golf, is scheduled Oct. 2-4 in Clayton (the application process, by the way, remains open until June 28). Nowadays, 50 assistant superintendents come to the event, a trip paid for by Bayer and John Deere, and through the years they have gotten to hear speakers such as Ken Mangum, CGCS, from Atlanta Athletic Club; Bob Farren, CGCS, Pinehurst Resort; Doug Karcher, University of Arkansas associate professor; and Greg Nathan, National Golf Foundation senior vice president. "We always want to focus on things we feel are cutting edge in our industry," says Jimmy Johnson, key account manager, golf, for Bayer. When Bayer chose to end the Future Superintendents Academy three years ago, it was done in part because of budget considerations in an industry that, like so many others, was affected by a downturn in the economy. Yet there are no plans to downsize Green Start Academy, Johnson says. In fact, he says they are investigating ways to broaden the experience for assistants, who hope Green Start Academy is the bridge that takes them to the next level. "We are trying to help identify those who are going to be our industry leaders tomorrow, the people who will be key to the success of our industry and how it goes," he says.

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