Golf Course Management

OCT 2017

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

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46 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 10.17 fer for making it happen. "Matt was like a big old sponge. He took it all in, watched, observed. He did it himself," Paul R. says. Not entirely, according to Shaffer. "I was uncalculated when I was with him at Au - gusta. I was calculated when I left. He had to break me before I changed," he says. "He fine-tuned the engine. When you work for him, you feel responsible to pass along what he taught you. He's a mentor for life. He's going to be there, even if it's 40 years later. It's not 'You're on your own now.' That's not how he operated." Mike Yenny, GCSAA Class A superin - tendent at The Mayfield Sand Ridge Club outside of Cleveland, benefited from how Shaffer operated. "He taught you how to think outside the box, and that if you know what you are doing is right, don't be swayed to do something that isn't best for the turf and the course," says Yenny, a 36-year asso - ciation member, who was hired in 1991 by Shaffer in Hershey, Pa. "He was really about building a staff and wanted to help provide us with training and education. He's a big part of my success." Arron McCurdy, who worked for Shaf - fer at Merion, followed a path similar to his mentor's, taking one step back with the hope of ultimately taking multiple steps for - ward. McCurdy had been an assistant su- perintendent before coming to Merion as an assistant-in-training. "I just knew I needed to get myself in position properly. I needed someone to mentor me, somebody who had a proven record of preparing you to get jobs," McCurdy says. At Merion, McCurdy, a nine-year asso - ciation member, would eventually become superintendent under Shaffer. He watched, learned, and moved on. Today, McCurdy is the GCSAA Class A superintendent at Metedeconk National Golf Club in Jack - son, N.J., and he still talks frequently with Shaffer, though it isn't always golf-related. "Working for him was fun. We laughed a lot there," says McCurdy, "but we worked hard always trying to be the best. He let us make mistakes. You'd take the blame for the mistakes, but to him, that's how you'd learn. I tell my staff that if I tell you every - thing, how are you going to learn?" Still going strong If you've spent any time at Merion this year, you may have seen the Latshaws and Shaffer together. That possibility could carry on for years to come. Earlier in 2017, Paul B. departed Muir - field Village to replace Shaffer at Merion. It placed Paul B. less than an hour from his father, who resides in Pennsylvania. Shaf - fer, who plans to remain active in the in- dustry, stayed on for several months to aid in Paul B.'s transition, although the younger Latshaw did have a background at Mer - ion (he'd been hired as its superintendent in 1992). "They both have a great work ethic. You can't keep up with them," says Shaffer of the Latshaws, although his following statement may start a family feud: "Paul B. is unstop - pable. I think he could outwork his dad." Shaffer says he'd tease — perhaps even chal - lenge — Paul R. with such comments back in their Augusta days. "I'd mess with him, would say, 'You can't pull this off.' Then he would just dig in." Merion is scheduled to begin a major restoration in 2018, and Shaffer, who lives near Penn State University, says Paul B. can contact him if needed. Whether he gets that call, well, Shaffer isn't fretting. "Paul is up to the task," Shaffer says. Undoubtedly, his mentor would be pleased to hear that. Howard Richman ( is GCM 's as- sociate editor. Top: Paul R. Latshaw, left, enjoys visiting one of his protégés, superintendent Matt Morton, at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif. Photo by April Rocha Bottom: Flanked by people they've mentored, Paul B. Latshaw, second from left, and his father, Paul R. Latshaw, second from right, helped shape the careers of Jake Gargasz (far left), superintendent at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Ind., and John Zimmers Jr., who oversees The Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio. Photo courtesy of Paul B. Latshaw

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