Golf Course Management

OCT 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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Clyde and Kevin Nettles working side by side — a common occurrence. "He (Kevin) is doing such a good job," Clyde says. "I hate to brag on him, but he is." and his brother, Mike, another former superintendent, grew up near the current ffth tee on the Blue Course. "I can still remember going out on the tractor to work and having them sit on my lap," Clyde says. As the boys got older, Clyde didn't waste much time getting his sons started in the family business. "I started working in the seventh grade," Kevin says. "I started out putting fuid in the ball washers and greasing all the machines and then graduated to raking the bunkers." Clyde's wife and Kevin's mother, Rozetta, kept the family functioning while still living at the company "store." "It's just a family thing. She always understood," Kevin says. It didn't take long for Clyde to put his construction skills to use, doing the work in-house to convert the greens on the Gold Course from bentgrass to bermudagrass in 1974. "I've never seen anything like it," says current head professional, Lance Patterson. "If you see papa Nettles working on the tractor doing a club project, it's like a kid on a go-kart. Plus, their knowledge of the property is incredible." When the courses were totally overhauled in the mid-1980s, Nicklaus, who had won the '63 PGA Championship held at DAC for his frst major golf championship, returned to renovate both courses as part of his signature design business. That built a long-lasting relationship among Nicklaus, his lead associate Chet Williams 58 GCM October 2013 and the Nettles men. The bond of trust was so tight that when the greens on the courses were resurfaced in 2004-05 and 27 bunkers were added, all the work was done by Clyde and Kevin with phone supervision by Williams. Kevin took over for his dad in 1999 as head superintendent and wasted little time in embracing the new fast-paced era that had taken hold among all courses and superintendents. "The expectations are much higher now," Kevin says. "With 36 holes, they expect everything to be perfect. Sadly, I don't have time to mow a fairway now. I have to oversee everything." Aside from the praise of club members and fellow staff, Kevin's biggest fan is probably the one whose job he took. "He (Kevin) is doing such a good job. I hate to brag on him, but he is. I was a working superintendent; he is more of a manager," Clyde says. "It was a goat ranch back then (compared to now), but you could get away with that if you did your job. If you go back and look at photos from the 1963 PGA, you can see the course was really brown. Now you can't do that." But from father to son, the lessons of the soil learned from decades of on-site, handson work have been passed down from one generation to the next. Membership has its privileges Both men credit their involvement with GCSAA in helping them keep up on the latest industry trends as they've progressed through their careers. Clyde is a 46-year member of the association, Kevin has been a member for 28 years, and both say they've benefted from the growth of the organization that has taken place along with their careers. "When I frst started, they (GCSAA) weren't nearly as well known as they are now. They just started with a small offce, but they have really grown now," says Clyde. Kevin agrees: "GSCAA has really done a lot to promote our industry. They have really helped us stay current in the industry." For Kevin, keeping current has meant adding new technologies as important tools in his management of DAC. "To see how they work with a budget and get all the work done at the club is amazing," Gaffner says. "They keep up with the latest trends, and Kevin is very good on the computer with spreadsheets and charts, while Clyde never used a computer." Indeed, Clyde had to ask Kevin what his cell phone number was when asked about embracing new technologies. But that's never kept him from contributing his fair share of the current work. "He is affectionately known as the 'old guy' on the crew, sort of like the crew mascot," Kevin says. But Clyde is quick to counter that: "When I mess up, they really let me know about it." Family affair continues When they're not at the 317-acre facility, Clyde and Kevin still spend plenty of time together, hunting and fshing, and living within a few blocks of each other. "It's awesome. It's great to be with him," Kevin says. "Clyde is the nicest, most gentle, easiest-to-get-along-with person on the face of the earth." "He has some different theories than I do, and thank goodness for that," Clyde adds. "When we disagree, there is no screaming, I'll tell you that." That's proof that greenkeeping is a family tradition the Nettles twosome won't be giving up any time soon. GCM Art Sticklin is a freelance golf writer from Plano, Texas, and a frequent contributor to GCM.

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