Golf Course Management

MAR 2018

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

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38 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 03.18 But engineering's loss turned out to be golf course man- agement's gain. A friend who knew that Davis loved the game of golf and had actually carved a putting green into his fam - ily's backyard using a standard rotary mower suggested he look into work on the golf course. "He told me I had to find a job on the golf course, learn how to build them, how to maintain them," Davis says. "He thought it would be perfect for me." He was right, and that friendly nudge was all Davis needed to finally embrace his true passion. His first job in golf at Golden Eagle Golf and Country Club in Tallahassee led him to pursue his formal turfgrass education, which turned into stints at one of America's greatest golf courses, which resulted in jobs at two Sunshine State standouts and a tenure at Olde Florida that is now in its 26th year. Now, that twist of fate some three decades ago is taking the 50-year-old Davis to what he considers the most impor - tant and impactful point of his career: his election last month in San Antonio as the 82nd president of GCSAA. "I get goose bumps thinking about being president for an association that I joined 28 years ago as a kid whose main excitement was getting to flip through the magazine every month," Davis says. "It's hard to believe it's all gone so quickly, but it just gives me chills." His predecessor in that role, Bill Maynard, CGCS, from the Country Club of St. Albans (Mo.), says of Davis: "You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone more dedicated to this indus - try and this association, and to making them both better for everyone. His passion is just infectious, and I know it's going to lead to great things during his year as GCSAA president." Gridiron great If you're looking for an informed opinion about a person's character, their leadership abilities, about what drives them each and every day, you could do far worse than to ask some - one like Mike Ditka. Yep, that Mike Ditka. The Hall-of-Fame tight end who won an NFL championship in 1963 with the Chicago Bears. The legendary head coach who led the famed "Monsters of the Midway" to a 15-1 record and a Super Bowl title in 1985. The broadcaster who has spent nearly two decades as part of ESPN's NFL coverage each week. And, most important for the purposes of this story, the Ditka who is one of the founding members of Olde Florida, who, along with a handful of others, helped identify the tract of land that would become the 18-hole championship course, who helped select Rees Jones as the architect to design that course, and who helped pick many of the key employees who would manage that facility once it opened — including its superintendent, Davis. When you ask Ditka what stood out to him about Davis when he interviewed for that job 26 years ago — as a rela - tive rookie in the game of golf course management who had never run his own facility — and what qualities he believes Davis will bring to GCSAA's presidency in 2018, Ditka refer - ences many of the same things he looked for when identifying good, young assistant coaches for his teams in Chicago. Davis (center) has enjoyed long, fruitful working relationships with many involved in the Olde Florida project, including club president Tom Kukk (left) and director of golf Tom Wildenhaus, both of whom, like Davis, have held those positions since the club opened 25 years ago. Photos by Montana Pritchard

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