Golf Course Management

APR 2014

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

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70 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 04.14 ractice makes perfect, or so the old saying goes. But it's certainly not the only recipe for perfec- tion, as Deron Zendt so eloquently illustrated in the 2014 GCSAA Golf Championships. The superintendent at Banyan Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fla., Zendt had designs on a full practice regimen in advance of taking on the 89-man feld in the National Championship. After making the relatively quick trek up the coast from his home in South Florida to Orlando, the site of this year's tournament, he'd get in a practice round plus some time on the range on Fri - day, and then play in the four-ball competition on Saturday before the 36-hole tournament began in earnest on Sunday morning. Mother Nature, however, had other plans. And when she dumped more than 5 inches of rain on Zendt's course on the Wednesday and Thursday prior to his planned departure for the tour - nament, getting his cuts in before the start of tournament play took a back seat to cleaning up his facility for member play. "I ended up sticking around all day on Fri - day, actually had to close the golf course just so we could get everything cleaned up," the 15-year GCSAA member says. "I basically didn't get any real practice in the entire week leading up to the tournament. The frst real swings I took were on the tee Saturday morning for the four-ball. That was it." But that, as it turned out, would be more than enough. Showcasing a mid-season form that be - lied the limited opportunities to properly prepare for competition, Zendt put together an impressive wire-to-wire performance that ultimately led him to his frst GCSAA National Championship. "It was an amazing experience, it really was," Zendt says. "I never got too far ahead of myself, and just focused on hitting fairways, hitting greens and making putts. Because I wasn't able to prepare the way I had planned to, I just tried to not make things too complicated, and that strategy paid off." Farm-fresh talent Don't get Zendt wrong, though. He knows that from a golfer's perspective, living and working in South Florida provides a number of advan - tages. Even if his short-term practice plans in advance of the GCSAA National Championship were waylaid by the weather, he doesn't deny that he and his fellow superintendents from that part of the world have a leg up on others in the competition. "I'm sure the guys from up north are going to be rolling their eyes when they read this," Zendt laughs. "Even when I don't have the opportunity to play a lot, I do get my swings in. Whether it's an hour on the range or putting green before I go home or a few holes at the end of the day, I'm defnitely getting my swings in." Those opportunities are part of what drew the native of rural central Pennsylvania to the warm climes of the Sunshine State in the frst place. Zendt grew up on a cattle farm and knew that an outdoor career awaited him. But it wasn't until the avid golfer paid a visit to Delaware Valley Col - lege in Doylestown, Pa., as a high school junior and learned more about the school's turf manage- ment program that a career in golf course management entered the picture. "My heart was in farming, and I had some great opportunities thanks to my dad and my uncle (who owned a dairy farm)," Zendt says. "But I was always interested in golf, so decided I wanted to go in another direction." His education took Zendt from his hometown of Miffintown, Pa., to Penn State and, ulti - mately, to a year out west as an assistant-in-training at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles. He returned to Pennsylvania for a "great opportunity" at Lebanon Country Club, a place that he still reveres, as second and then frst assistant superintendent. But the allure of warm weather eventu - ally drew him south, frst to Old Marsh Golf Club in West Palm Beach, then to McArthur Golf Club in Hobe Sound and, fnally, to his current post at Banyan. 2013 GCSAA President Patrick R. Finlen, CGCS (left), and GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans (right) present Deron Zendt from Banyan GC in West Palm Beach, Fla., with the GCSAA National Championship trophy. P 068-075_April14_.indd 70 3/18/14 3:38 PM

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