Golf Course Management

MAR 2015

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

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50 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 03.15 at the University of Massachusetts' Stockbridge School of Agriculture and took the steps to make that happen, including fnally taking his SATs at age 20. Earning his degree with high honors in 1979, O'Keefe took his frst job on a golf course as an assistant superintendent for Mark Fuller, CGCS, at Longshore Club Park. As a college student, O'Keefe had been an intern for Fuller. "And I couldn't wait to get him back," says Fuller, currently at the Connecticut Golf Club and a key mentor to O'Keefe. "I could tell that, as an intern, he was driven, wanted to be in the business, had good character, good personality and was a team player. I got spoiled with him as my frst assistant. He'd take on anything and everything he possibly could to improve himself." That frst head superintendent job came O'Keefe's way in 1981. He took the position at Westchester Hills Golf Club in White Plains, N.Y., where he remained for fve years. In 1986, O'Keefe began his tenure at Preakness Hills CC, an era that is nearing 30 years. The O'Keefes moved into a home near the 17th hole there and raised two daughters, Adrienne and Maureen. Preakness Hills, which features a par-3 sig - nature 18th hole, opened in 1926. O'Keefe is just the third superintendent in the club's his - tory. His presence — along with that of his two assistants, Tony Espe and Steve Aspinall — is highly regarded by fellow staff and members alike. They have managed to do more with less, according to club president Peter von Halle. The manner in which O'Keefe represents him - self on a daily basis impresses von Halle. "There is not an obnoxious, caustic bone in his body. John is very humble, generous. We're proud he's president," von Halle says. "John is just a very consistent performer." O'Keefe and his staff 's attention to de - tail has made life easier for greens chairman Bryan Becker. "We rely heavily on John. His ability to ex - plain things to myself or my predecessors has allowed the greens chair to be a job that people are excited to do," Becker says. "John is able to keep it fair for all levels of play. A golf course's consistency, playability, is so key to the success of a club. This is home for John. He'll never sacrifce conditions here for anything." Preakness Hills' PGA head professional John Mascari says that O'Keefe is ultrasup - portive and that they mesh nicely. Mascari says having O'Keefe on board is almost like having a historian on the property. "He remembers everything," Mascari says. James Messina, general manager at Preak - ness Hills, knows he can lean on O'Keefe for help and advice, and to provide a vision. "He is kind of the father fgure of the club, the voice of reason, my sounding board," Mes - sina says. "He's Steady Eddie. He could keep this place going with his eyes closed." Aspinall believes that having O'Keefe as a boss and mentor is preparing him to take that next step some day. Above: O'Keefe and John Mascari, head PGA professional at Preakness Hills. Right: James Messina, Preakness Hills' general manager, meets O'Keefe overlooking the course's signature 18th hole. "He is kind of the father fgure of the club, the voice of reason, my sounding board. He's Steady Eddie. He could keep this place going with his eyes closed." — James Messina

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