Golf Course Management

NOV 2014

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

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50 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 11.14 Shale industry in Pennsylvania," says Penn State's John Kaminski, Ph.D., who oversees the two-year golf course turfgrass management program. "It (su - perintendent) is a hard job. You have to love it. The goal is to fnd where a student best fts and send them in the direction that will be their best chance to keep them in the industry. That being said, we'll have people fve years from now who won't be in the industry." Another reason may be what some consider the stagnant scenario. "There is a perception that an as - sistant could be an assistant for a very long time, so the investment is in question," says Brian Horgan, Ph.D., associate professor of turfgrass management at the University of Minnesota. "The last thing we want to do is not be able to get employed." The economy, which tanked about six years ago, serves as a key point for skepticism. "Golf courses that closed or went bankrupt killed us," Christians says. "Word gets around. Guys have lost their jobs." Some simply discover the profession is not meant for them. "I had an intern come in a couple days after he started and told me he didn't like waking up early in the morning," says Matthew Gourlay, CGCS, direc - tor of golf course operations at Colbert Hills Golf Course in Manhattan, Kan. "That doesn't bother me. You should fnd out what makes you happy." A trend to keep a watchful eye on: Multiple turf - grass schools say that they have seen a shift toward students becoming interested in sports turf instead of golf course management. It may not be more apparent than in golf course- rich Myrtle Beach, S.C., near where Horry George - town is located. That two-year school has graduates working on golf courses in 38 states and four for - eign countries, but their program's numbers have re- mained steady despite changes in the area that may affect students who consider becoming golf course superintendents. No wonder the school is working to develop a strong sports turf program. "Myrtle Beach has more golf courses than grains of sand on the beach," says Horry Georgetown pro - fessor Ashley Wilkinson. "It has been centralized for golfers, but that has diminished. Myrtle Beach just fnished a $25 million project for sports felds that were rented even before they were fnished. Instead of seeing cars full of golfers, you've got a van with 10 to 15 kids in it with their parents." Although many turfgrass professors noted that their student numbers might be fewer, their students often are as impressive as ever. "Turf students are just good kids," Danneberger says. "They work hard, know what they want to do. We may not have as many, but the quality is great." Arkansas professor Mike Richardson, Ph.D., adds: "Students we have now are as good as any we've had. They are coming out ready to hit the ground running." Gone but not forgotten David Dore-Smith is a proud graduate of Edison State College in Fort Myers, Fla. When he drives past the school today, however, sadness overcomes him. "We had a three-hole pitch-and-putt that we verticut and aerated," Dore-Smith says. "A month ago I was driving by there along College Parkway. They ended up turning it into a parking lot." This year marks the fve-year anniversary of Edison State College's decision to scrap its golf course operations program as a cost-saving measure. At the time, though, the program was solid. "We had 125 students in our program in 2009," says Lee Berndt, Ph.D., who oversaw the program. "I think we were growing at about 5 percent a year. It was dy- namic." Edison State, named in honor of pioneer Thomas Edison who spent several win- ters in Fort Myers, offcially changed its name in July to Florida SouthWestern State College. Dore-Smith, director of golf course and grounds maintenance at Copper- leaf Golf Club in Bonita Springs, Fla., came to America from Australia and found his niche at Edison State. "If there was no school there, I would not be where I am today," says Dore-Smith, a 15-year member of GCSAA. Berndt wonders what might have been — or what could be — if his program had continued. "If we still had it, I know it would be fourishing," says Berndt, who teaches a turfgrass operations class at Florida Gulf Coast. "We did everything in the evening when people got off work. We got people placed in jobs. GCSAA supported us big time. We were pretty healthy before it got taken away." — H.R. Say reputation is their school's most effective recruiting tool 85% Former Delaware Valley College students Frank Perrone and Alyson Painter volunteered at a USGA event to learn more about the turfgrass industry. Photo courtesy of Doug Linde, Ph.D.

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