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November 14, 2011

Super with Attitude

It was all stuff she'd done before.

At least, that's how Karen O'Dell saw it, after she had finished watching the first season of Ammo & Attitude on Versus last year. As the superintendent of Wawashkamo Golf Club on Mackinac Island, Mich., she had spent plenty of time with nature. She applied to be on the second season of the show, and was notified she made it in just before Christmas.

The actual filming of the outdoorswoman competition went from May 14 through 28, with an episode for each day.

"For the first little bit it wasn't bad, but as it got into week two, it started to wear on you," says O'Dell. "We got tired. You don't sleep very well away from home and you don't eat right, and at the end of it, we were exhausted both mentally and physically."

They competed in teams for the first few events, but when they broke into individual events, O'Dell started to really outshine her competitors. She's an experienced hunter and pulled top rank in the shooting challenge, but she liked taking on new obstacles as well.

"My favorite challenge was the heritage one, where it was roping, knife throwing and longbow," she says. "I got to learn something totally new. Every other challenge, I had done at some point in my life."

As her star began to rise, she tried to keep from letting herself get caught up in the competition.

"I didn't want to get cocky and overconfident," she says. "It's always in the back of your mind, if you let it creep in there. But as soon as we went individual, I really started kicking it into overdrive and I won a couple things after that."

Ever the superintendent, O'Dell's secret weapon was research and preparation. Before the events ever started, she checked out the website for the next season of Ammo & Attitude, and made note of the sponsors.

"I put in a lot of homework before I went out there," she says. "I figured, if they're sponsoring, we're going to use their products. So if they had a signature product, I went and checked it out to make sure I was familiar with it and how to use it. The guys at my sportsman's club were so helpful just to throw every type of gun in my hand to try out just in case it came up."

In the finale, she faced off against one other outdoorswoman in a turkey hunt and shooting challenge.

"In the finale, we did a walkthrough just before lunch and both of us, our nerves were just jangling," says O'Dell. "After I finished, the minute I got up and I had my gun cleaned, it was like the world had been lifted off my shoulders. Then after she finished, I knew I had cleaned my gun better, so it was just a matter of the time after that."

Going back to her studies, O'Dell had noticed that gun cleaning was a challenge in the previous season, so she had made sure she knew how to use the cleaning kit they would have on the show. It made the difference: Her opponent finished eight seconds sooner than O'Dell, but she had time penalties for her cleaning performance. O'Dell won the whole competition.

In the end, she cleaned up with five guns, two bows, two complete paintball sets, a bunch of clothing, deer cameras, shooting targets – oh, and a four-wheel drive, black 2012 Dodge Ram pickup complete with camo trim.

O'Dell will go back next season to film one episode with the new recruits, and if the series continues, maybe an all-stars episode.

"I felt like I grew a lot through it," she says. "You had to pull yourself through the hard times. It was hard to keep your spirits up, and I found some strength I didn't know I had."

Dispatches from Guangzhou

Justin Apel, Golf Course Builders Association of America's executive director, has been globe-trotting to see the development of the Asian golf industry. During his visit at the Chinese golf course industry show in Guangzhou and country-hopping throughout Asia, he's been forwarding us his impressions.

While the complete entries are available on the GCI website, here are a few excerpts:

Day one:

The first day of the show began with the show partners assembling together. A group ribbon cutting with a ceremonial dragon dance and parade through the exhibit area...

With the show off and running I, along with Martin Moore with Flagstick Golf, Rhett Evans with GCSAA, and Arthur Yeo participated in a panel discussion on "Launch Right, insider tips to taking your facility from a construction site to an open facility that runs as planned from day one." After returning our booth was standing room only, filled with spectators from the panel discussion, local members that attended the show, and local companies interested in joining. The entire day was busy with show booth visits, interviews, and visiting our members and other booths from other area of the golf industry that are not construction.

What is very impressive is most tradeshow floors become ghost towns as the day draws to a close, however the people of this show will literally need to be thrown out, they are staying to the very end on the first day...

Days two and three:

Congratulations to Reed, the PGA of America, and all of the exhibitors on a very successful show. GCBAA was pleased to take part and support our International members, meet some new friends, and share our members knowledge and experience in golf course construction across the globe. It was a great opportunity for us to meet some of existing International members that have never traveled to the U.S....

Members like Sam Sakocius and his knowledge of this market are a tremendous resource. GCBAA veterans like Dye Designs International, Toro, Rain Bird, Jacobsen, ITT Flowtronex, LASCO, Hunter, Atlas Turf, Leemco, Paige Electric, Watertronics, CMF Global, Profile Products, Sternberg Golf Services, Builders like Hainan Shapemasters, Forward Management, Flagstick, and many others (apologizes to those that I have forgotten) shared their experiences and contacts and have established a network here. Also we were able to meet for the first time members like Alert Golf based in India, Country Golf, Rainbow, Yacon Golf, and others. I appreciate their support to the GCBAA and our trip. The experience was worthwhile and we have began plans for the spring China Golf Show and possibly the 2012 Asia Show again.

Apel has moved on through Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, learning about the development of the golf industry throughout Asia. To follow his travels, check out the GCI website!

A different type of tour

Superintendent Dave Barber found at least one way to make sure his guests stayed on the cart path at Cranberry Highlands Golf Course in Cranberry Township, Pa. The township's annual fall hayride traveled through the course and local wood in October, bringing in more than 500 people.

"We originally started this to showcase the course," says Barber. "We had the golf course certified with Audobon in 2009, and we want to educate the people on the characteristics of the course. A lot of people think the course is just a pesticide dump. We try to educate them on our pesticide and fertilizer reduction, and how we benefit from not having to mow all the time."

Barber rode along with the groups, directing the tour and providing background and history about the course as well as pointing out wildlife special to the area.

"We have a narrative we use," he says. "We want to make sure we're hitting on all the things we're trying to accomplish around here. We want to let them know there's a nature trail around here, and that the kids should get out and have fun."

Even playing golfers made way for the rambling truck as it went along the cart path, and one bearded golfer dressed in red played along as a vacationing Santa Claus. After the hayride made its way back to the clubhouse, the families got involved in other fall fun.

"They can get a pumpkin, a hot dog, a caramel apple and they can get a hayride," says Barber. "People can have a really good time here."