In 2019, I walked into the Golf Course Industry office, met editor-in-chief Guy Cipriano and, in a nutshell, asked him to take a chance. I had never written about golf. I had worked course maintenance in high school, had a background in editorial work, published a children’s book, fell innocently in love with all things
Adam Scott golf and was totally into everything about the game.
The tournaments, the tours, the history, the architecture, the courses, the equipment, the global appeal and even the sometimes-confounding rules. I wanted to justify my golf habit and I wanted to do something beyond volunteering as a marshal (though I enjoy that, too — hello to the crew on Firestone South, Hole No. 6!). I wanted to somehow give back to golf.
Fast forward a few months and I’m sitting at Buffalo Ridge at Big Cedar Lodge in Ridgedale, Missouri, meeting with three outstanding professionals — Steve Johnson, Todd Bohn and Curtis Keller — who were beyond kind and patient with my questions during my debut Golf Course Industry interview. I stuttered, stumbled and blushed. I really tried to understand “the grasses” and their work. Even though I had done my research, it would be impossible for me to match their expansive agronomic knowledge and I knew their time was valuable. My connection with Golf Course Industry could have been brief. But being born in Springfield, Missouri, and raised as an adoring fan of Payne Stewart, I really wanted to write about Payne’s Valley, and they helped me.
My father has always enjoyed golf, various members of our family play and my paternal grandparents were charter members of a nearby club. So, I fished for information and put something together. It turned out OK and next I wrote about industry authors and the turf program at Brenstville High School, where there are students who are young, eager and thriving. Then I wrote about the joint internship at Sand Hills and Ballyneal, and turf education options. I was learning about the labor supply, recruiting, and the pros and cons of working in turf management.
I continued covering various topics, including fitness, tees, turf selection and course renovation, and spoke with industry leaders. Big thanks to all of them. People respond quickly to calls and emails. I ask everyone to please volunteer some time to answer a few questions and maybe to send a few photos because I want to learn more about their work. They tolerate my curiosity and, at the risk of conveying a low sense of self-esteem, I find it remarkable that everyone makes time for it. The people I have worked with in this industry are incredibly giving, hard-working and justifiably deserving of praise.
Technology and advances in the field never stop and they fascinate me. There are hydronic systems to adopt and GPS machines to test. The benefits of biochar and nanowater are being researched in conjunction with universities and new cultivars are being created. Pollinator gardens, bioswales and even a farm and apiaries are all topics I have had the pleasure of exploring. I have three sons and I show them photos of a green struck by lightning, sunblock footprints, drainage line patterns in melting snow and healthy environmental indicators. It’s interesting, scientifically, and a joy to discuss. There is always something. They ask questions and we figure out the answers.
But what l started to learn while working on that first story, and what has become apparent in the time since, is that the people leading these maintenance teams are even more intriguing than the agronomic conditioning I was writing about. There are common characteristics you all share, and possibly a few imperfections — you know you have a hard time stepping away — but blended together, they are endearing and inspiring.
I love hearing about your day. I love hearing about what you do. I love your passive-aggressive Twitter threads and your adorable dogs and even the occasional slow-motion coring or time-lapse construction video. I love the way you solve problems and help each other.
This is your work and it is a privilege for me to learn about it. I relish the opportunity to cover this industry more than you can imagine and I can’t do my work without you being willing to share yours. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for welcoming me and working with me, thank you for being you, thank you for all that you do for golf and for all that you do for those enjoying your properties. Your work may not always be appreciated or respected in the way that it should be, but you are accomplishing amazing things.
Please know that every single day, I very much appreciate working with you.