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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54 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 11.14 50 % superintendent at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla. "I wish I hadn't wasted two years of college some - where else," Vastola says. "If I hadn't, I'd be so much more advanced now. This job is so much about ex - perience, knowing how to handle things the second time around. I can only imagine where I'd be right now if I had gone into this much sooner." Vastola may be on to something. "People don't think of turfgrass management as a career they think about when they are mowing the lawn for Dad," Kowalewski says. "No one at the high school level may be telling them that turf man - agement can be a good career for them." There actually was a time, former SUNY-Coble - skill professor Bob Emmons says, when his students wanted nothing more than to be a superintendent. "They loved the whole concept of the golf course — getting up early, then at the end of the day being able to look back on what they did," Emmons says. "They'd have rather done that than been a rock star." On solid ground? At North Carolina State, the average incom - ing freshman grade-point average (GPA) is 4.4 on a 4-point scale. Obviously, those are some excellent students. So how could that possibly infuence the school's turfgrass program? "To get that GPA, you've got to take AP (Ad - vanced Placement) classes, honors courses," Yelver- ton says. "A lot of turf students come from rural areas where they may not be able to take those types of classes. It has made it more and more competitive to get in. If you want to come to a four-year college and be a turfgrass major, you better be a darn good student or come in as a transfer student. We have been hurt by students not getting into our four-year program." When fewer turfgrass students enroll at North Carolina State and other colleges, that creates an issue for golf courses. "We had more inquiries this year from golf courses and landscape companies dying for people to fll voids," Bigelow says. "We don't have them — and I don't know what to do about it." Yelverton has heard that one before. "I had a superintendent at a prominent course in the U.S. say he got four applications for an assistant's job. He told me that 10 years ago he would have had 90. He doesn't tend to exaggerate," Yelverton says. Schools are doing almost all they can to attract turfgrass students and fnd ways for them to be in - grained in the profession. New Mexico State has been contracted by the city of Gallup to oversee the maintenance of its mu - nicipal golf course. In the past two years, Minnesota has added staff, including an extension educator and research pathologist. Clemson revamped its curricu - lum to ensure all the bases are covered, particularly prerequisites, for both turfgrass and agriculture stu - dents. Texas A&M is in the process of developing A casualty of decline? Nobody has won more GCSAA Collegiate Turf Bowls than Iowa State University. Iowa State's 11 titles are unmatched. The university frst won in 1999 and three times since posted three-peats (2002 to 2004; 2006 to 2008; and 2010 to 2012). The magic, however, has faded. Iowa State fnished ffth in 2013. This year, Iowa State placed sixth (Maryland won the championship). Not bad. Not, though, what they have come to expect at Iowa State. The drop-off may have a correlation to a decrease in numbers in the turfgrass pro- gram, Iowa State professor Nick Christians, Ph.D., says. "We used to take three or four teams to the Turf Bowl. Now coming up with one is diffcult," Christians says. "When we won, we also had teams that fnished in 60th place. That 60th-place team gained the experience they needed to be No. 1 in future years. We are missing that. Part of that is a large increase in tuition that has resulted in more students going to community colleges frst. That experience is an important part of winning." Notching Turf Bowl titles proved to be benefcial for the turfgrass program. "It was a huge beneft for resources. When you needed equipment, they'd (university) fnd a way to get it to you, whether it was for a research station or lab equipment. It was much easier to obtain things," Christians says. Can Iowa State regain its elite status in the Turf Bowl? Christians is hopeful. He also is keeping his fngers crossed that Iowa State brings two or three teams to the Turf Bowl in February at the Golf Industry Show in San Antonio. "I give them a good chance," he says. "We have some good people and they are starting early." — H.R. Offer an online turf studies program for students

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