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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46 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 03.18 Lynn Josephson, who at the time was the head golf profes- sional at Wyndemere Country Club in Naples and was run- ning point on the project for Olde Florida's founding mem- bers, recalls the hiring process for the club's key management positions, including superintendent. He says Davis stood out for that post almost immediately. "You look at the résumé, and you see the two stints at Augusta, you see Loxahatchee — which a lot of us knew very well — and the Penn State turf program ... well, there was just a lot to like there," Josephson says. The only thing that gave the folks at Olde Florida any pause was the relative lack of experience that Davis — just 25 years old at the time — would bring to the table. Those concerns were quickly put to rest by strong recommendations from references such as Duich. "I'll never forget what Dr. Duich told me when I called to ask him about Darren," Josephson says. "He said, 'Lynn, don't let this young man's age scare you. He's one of the best I've ever seen come through our program, and even though he might not have all the answers, he knows where to go to ask the right questions.' That definitely stuck with me." Tom Kukk, Olde Florida's president and one of the club's founding members, was equally impressed with Davis back then and marvels at what he's become, both as the club's su - perintendent and as a dedicated industry volunteer. "It's been wonderful to watch him grow and learn about what it takes to run a club, to manage a golf course, to inter - act with membership and become financially responsible for his end of the operation," Kukk says. "We're just tickled with what he's done for us here at Olde Florida, and for the role that he's grown into in the golf industry and with GCSAA. We're very proud of the way he's represented the club and the membership in those ways." Pro Football Hall of Famer Mike Ditka is a founding member at Olde Florida and was involved in the hiring process for the club's superintendent when Davis got the job in 1992. "You could see almost immediately back then what kind of leader he was going to be," Ditka says. Photo by Montana Pritchard One-of-a-kind opportunity One of the reasons Davis has been able to so successfully balance his responsibilities at the club with his volunteer ser - vice to the industry — which will be highlighted this year as GCSAA president — is Olde Florida's relatively unique man - agement structure. In essence, the club has no standing membership commit - tees. There is a board of directors, but its only true non-em- ployee leadership position is president, and that's a job Kukk has held since the club first opened its doors. The concept is based on the successful model of The Sharon Golf Club in Sharon Center, Ohio — where many of Olde Florida's mem - bers also belong — and it has proved to be just as successful in southwest Florida as in north-central Ohio. Frank Dobie has a unique perspective on that structure. For more than 50 years, he has been the superintendent and general manager at The Sharon GC. He and Kukk are old friends, and he's grown to know Davis well over the years as the two have served together on various boards through - out the industry, including the Musser International Turf- grass Foundation. "The environment he has at Olde Florida is very con - ducive for him to serve as GCSAA president and spend the time necessary on those commitments," says Dobie, a 59-year GCSAA member. "Not a lot of clubs have that, but Olde Florida does. They will support him unconditionally. I have no doubt about that." "I know that I'm blessed to have one of the best jobs in the industry," Davis says. "I have a tremendous amount of freedom, no meetings to speak of, a really supportive mem - bership and a great team of people that I work with. When I first started, I wasn't sure how I was going to stay even five years, but then I look up and, all of a sudden, it's 25 years, and I hope I'm here another 20 years." The club's support of and belief in industry service doesn't extend only to Davis' work with GCSAA. It also has been un - waveringly supportive of Wildenhaus in his volunteer service to the PGA of America, both at the section level and nation - ally through his work on that association's board of control. "Both Darren and Tom know what the board wants and expects, and we trust them enough to know that they're going to deliver," Kukk says. "We're very proud of both of them, not just for what they've accomplished for us as a club, but also for how successful they've been in serving their profession." And as Davis' year as GCSAA president commences, he hopes he can give the members at Olde Florida and the nearly 18,000 members of the association worldwide much more to be proud of. "Being on the national board of directors and serving as president was never really a goal of mine. What I really as - pired to do was simply give back to an industry that had given me so much in any way that I could," Davis says. "Everything I've been able to do because of that aspiration and my service to GCSAA has been such a blessing. It really means the world to me, and I'm excited to be in this position and to see what this year will hold for myself, for GCSAA and the profession." Scott Hollister (shollister@gcsaa.org) is GCM 's editor-in-chief.

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