Golf Course Management

APR 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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Page 21 of 159

day that he could while also attending Cen- tral Piedmont Community College in Charlotte. "Somebody along the way said, 'You like to play golf, so why not pursue turf?' I jumped in head- first," Clark says. He got a job at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, which has staged numerous PGA Tour events and in 2017 hosted the PGA Championship. "I started at the bottom, did whatever had to be done," he says. Then-Quail Hollow Club superintendent Jeff Kent says that Clark knew how to get things done. "He made a break for himself. He earned it," says Kent, now the director of agronomy at Colleton River Club in Bluffton, S.C., and a 22- year GCSAA member. "He was one of those on our crew who were sponges, absorbed all of the information and wanted to do things the right way. You had fun competition, and he pushed guys around him to be better." Clark was promoted from irrigation/spray technician to assis - tant superintendent before departing in 2007 for a brief stay as an assistant at Hudson National Golf Club in Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y. He returned to the Carolinas a decade ago as an assistant at Florence CC and, in 2012, became its superintendent. It is attention to detail that spurs Clark and his team, which includes assistant Matthew Bartlett, equipment technician Tony Hendrix and foreman Steven McMillan. Whether it is definition between different heights of cut, unblemished greens or bunkers that are consistently manicured, Clark's methods work. "The staff always acts in a professional manner and dis - plays respect for all of the players," he says. A husband and father of two, Clark's hobby is off-road motorcycling. Although he has wrecked on occasion, Clark is steadfast in keeping Florence CC intact — not only for himself, but for all of those such as Bennett who have made it revered ground. "We want to do whatever we have to do in order to keep riding this wave," Clark says. "We pride ourselves on being the best, and we want this wave to last." — Howard Richman, GCM associate editor The music man Ron Wright has a story that will be music to your ears. Long before he became GCSAA's Southeast regional field staff representative, Wright had proved himself to be musically inclined. As a forestry major at Michigan State University, he dabbled on the side as a drummer for a five-person band called The Generics. Obviously, they could bring it — in 1980, the group won a contest that rocked their world. "We got to be the opening act for The Romantics during a spring concert at Michigan State," says Wright, referring to the rock 'n' roll band responsible for hits like "What I Like About You" and "Talking in Your Sleep." "It was an outdoor concert. There must have been 3,000 people there. There is no better drug than thousands of people applauding you. When you hear that, you're driven to perform." Wright, an Alabama resident, now makes guitars as a hobby — and one of his acoustic guitars was featured in the Golf Industry Show Silent Auction to benefit the Environmental Institute for Golf. The winning bid fetched $1,375. The guitar is made of koa from Hawaii and Sitka spruce from Alaska. "The koa comes from Russell Dooge (CGCS Retired, from Hawaii). I've been pestering him for years to send me koa," Wright says, "So he deserves a thank-you. It only grows in Hawaii." The guitar neck is Honduran mahogany, the fingerboard and bridge both are made of Madagascar ebony, the headstock cover is ebony 20 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 04.18 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 04.18 20 As a teen, Julio Silva could hit. A second baseman in high school, Silva batted over .300 for his team in California. The league in which he played was loaded with talent, including pitcher Sid Monge, who later pitched in the majors and allowed the first base hit to eventual Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn. Another standout, outfielder Terry Whitfield, later became a first- round draft pick of the New York Yankees. Although he didn't advance beyond high school baseball, Silva obviously could play. "I choked up on the bat, hit a lot of line drives," Silva says. "I was pretty fast, so I got a lot of infield hits." Nowadays, Silva is a big hit in another venue. A 24- year GCSAA member, Silva oversees Morongo Golf Club at Tukwet Canyon in Beaumont, Calif. The 36-hole facil - ity certainly is a success, based on the 80,000 rounds that golfers play there annually. "The best compli - ment for me is the number of people we get to come play. That is very rewarding," Silva says. This month, Silva and his crew — including assistant Chris Persechini, a three-year GCSAA member — will showcase their work world - wide. The IOA Championship presented by Morongo Casino Resort & Spa, which is an event on the Symetra Tour, is scheduled April 6-8. "It comes at a good time of the month. The golf course is in optimal shape at that time of the year," says Silva, whose facility features bentgrass and Poa annua greens, perennial ryegrass fairways, plenty of native areas throughout the courses and 80 bun - kers. "This event is something we really look forward to." Silva was born in Mexico and moved to the U.S. with his family at 14. He learned to speak En - glish and ultimately earned a turfgrass certificate at the University of California-Riverside. During that time, Silva gained experience working for a golf course builder. After college, Silva returned to Mexico and built golf courses for architect David Fleming, then returned to the U.S. and worked for Landscapes Unlimited before being hired six years ago at Morongo. Silva, the father of three boys, turns 66 this month. He and his wife, Maria, have been married for 44 years. — H.R. ACT ON COURSE OF Clark and his dog, Cooper. Photo coutesy of Dru Clark

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