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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44 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 03.18 Back home again Technically, Davis is not a native Floridian. He was actu - ally born in Huntsville, Ala., but when he was just 22 days old, his family traded Roll Tide for the Sunshine State after his father took an administrative position with NASA at Cape Canaveral. They lived for a short time in Titusville before set - tling in Tallahassee, which Davis still considers his hometown. That's why the search for his first assistant job focused on the state of Florida. "I interviewed with Matt Shaffer, who was then at Hershey (Pa.) Country Club, and we quickly re - alized it wasn't going to be a good fit for this Southern boy," Davis explains. There was plenty of interest in a Penn State grad with two stints at Augusta National, too, but not always job openings to go with that interest. Eventually, though, Davis connected with Phil Shoemaker at The Loxahatchee Club in Jupiter, Fla., who offered Davis an assistant position before the first interview had even concluded. (A 35-year GCSAA member, Shoemaker is now the superintendent at Desert Highlands Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.). "I worked for a year and three months at Loxahatchee and absolutely loved it," Davis says. "Phil let me do a lot of things. He saw my passion and energy, so he let me experi - ment and try different things. I can't imagine learning more in 15 months than I learned during my time there." So, why did his stint there last only 15 months? Well, to hear Davis and others at Olde Florida tell it, he got an offer he just couldn't refuse. Plugged in Olde Florida Golf Club is a place that cherishes its anonymity, its perch just a little off the radar. The club has no website. You won't find signs for it anywhere along busy I-75 located just a few miles away. And the entrance to the club is as nondescript as they come — just a pair of small stone columns affixed with Olde Florida plaques — paling in comparison to the grand entrances you'll find at some of the club's golf neighbors scattered throughout the Naples, Fla., area. Considering all that, it's a little ironic that Olde Florida's superintendent for all 25 years of its existence, Darren J. Davis, CGCS, is among golf course manage - ment's most visible and prolific communicators, a man as comfortable in front of the camera as he is behind the wheel of a greens mower. For many years, Davis hosted one of the industry's first widely embraced video products, EPIC Creative's "Superintendent's Video Magazine," and he played a key role in the related instructional video series, "Super - intendent's Video Workshop." He's also an accom- plished writer, having twice won the Leo Feser Award from GCSAA for the best superintendent-written story published in the pages of GCM, in addition to regular appearances in Florida Green, the chapter publication of the Florida GCSA, and other industry outlets. In 2007, he even went so far as to earn a bachelor's degree in communications from Florida Gulf Coast University. More recently, Davis has extended his passion for communications into the social media realm, connecting regularly about what's taking place on the golf course and his travels on behalf of GCSAA through Twitter (@DarrenJDavisGCS), Instagram (@darrenjdavisgcs) and Facebook ( JDavisGCS). "I've been blessed to find a career where I've been able to write, take photos and share stories," Davis says. "Those are all things that I've enjoyed doing since I was a kid — things that my dad enjoyed, too, so they've always meant a lot to me. "In our business, being able to communicate effec - tively — whether through an article, a video or on social media — is a really powerful tool. I've found that it can create a great connection with everyone from members at your club to your peers in the industry. It's something that I fully intend to keep doing throughout my year as president, because it's something I believe in and some - thing I want to encourage others to embrace more." — S.H. Davis (right) and Rees Jones have developed a close relationship over the years as they've worked together to tweak and improve the layout at Olde Florida.

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