Golf Course Management

JUN 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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42 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 06.18 a clear direction and decided what I wanted to achieve, I became extremely focused on the path, getting there through effectiveness and doing what others wouldn't." Roads well-traveled e journey to Shinnecock Hills for Jen- nings — personally and professionally — began in earnest 30 years ago. He landed his first superintendent job in March 1988 at En-Joie Golf Club in Endicott, N.Y. Besides hosting the PGA Tour's B.C. Open, En-Joie did a complete bunker renovation on Jen - nings' watch. He left 13 months later to be- come superintendent at Hiland Golf Club in Queensbury, N.Y. at is when he met Susan Roberts. ey crossed paths on a Fri - day evening at a Sunoco station. She pulled in to inflate a tire on her Saab before a road trip. Jennings, meanwhile, pulled up in a Saab of his own. If this was a pickup line, well, it worked. "He said, 'My Saab is a lot cleaner than your Saab,'" Susan says. Less than two years later, they got married, just before he was hired as superintendent at e Patterson Club in Fairfield, Conn., where Jennings oversaw the completion of a long-range maintenance plan that featured a complete bunker renovation and extensive drainage installation. He left there 18 years ago for Chicago GC, which was pondering an ag - ronomic upgrade. It was a major step for the club — and for Jennings. Pat Sisk, CGCS, went to middle school with Jennings and knows him as well as anybody. He knew what Chicago GC had acquired. "Even at 12, he was pretty driven. Don't tell him he can't do something. He'll fig - ure out a way to do it," says Sisk, a 26-year GCSAA member at Milwaukee Country Club. "I'm very proud of my buddy. I'll probably never host a major. I'm living this one vicariously through him." Chicago GC was at a crossroads when Jennings came aboard. "In the previous 50 to 60 years before Jon, I don't think the membership wanted big events," says John Moran, a Chicago GC historian and former green chairman there. "We asked ourselves, 'Are we going to come into the 21st century in terms of agronomic practices?' We pretty much had never aerated, injected sand in the greens or topdressed. Jon taught me a lot. He helped me help the members better un - derstand." Jennings guided an agronomic revival there, which featured work done by archi - tect Tom Doak. Bunkers were restored, as were playing areas that had migrated over time. e implementation of bentgrass in the fairways was a challenge that was over - come. All of it was done in time to host the 2005 Walker Cup. "He brings out the best in each em - Jennings (center) is flanked by equipment manager Kevin Stoeckert (left) and crew member Angel Vallespil. GCM goes to Shinnecock Hills If it's happening in golf course main- tenance at this month's U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club in South- ampton, N.Y., GCM and GCSAA will have it covered. Beginning Sunday, June 10, real-time, behind-the-scenes reports will be available in multiple forms, including on the magazine's website (, on the Twitter account of both GCM (@ GCM_Magazine) and GCSAA (@ GCSAA), and via video work from our friends at GCSAA TV (

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