How did you get your start in the golf industry?
I decided to take up the sport my dad was playing on the military base he was last stationed at after Vietnam before he retired. I was involved in numerous other sports but was intrigued by the game so I started playing on the AFB course. To earn my way to play I got the job as a range jockey picking up the balls by hand. Before that, I hit a Macgregor 4 iron with one ball for hours in the desert. While on the range I hit pitching wedges to a pile. Two years forward I was scratch and state #1.
Can you tell us a few things about your early life, where were you born, what high school, first jobs?
I was born in Ashyia, Japan on the island of Kyushu. We moved numerous times around the world, including Germany, and several bases in the United States. I went to high school at Capital High School in Boise, Idaho. It was over 2,300 students and was one of the top public schools academically in the US. We also were one of the best in sports in my Junior and Senior year (1975). My first jobs were picking fruit at an early age, bagging groceries on the base, and working around the golf course.
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Can you tell us a little about your family, how you met your wife, kids’ names?
I met my wife on a blind golf date set up by our fathers. Although she insulted me when we met on the golf course for a tournament that first meeting, I made him eat her words driving the par 4 hole two inches from the hole for a tap in eagle. We went on to set a couples course record and I asked her out for the next night. We now have three kids (Blake 42, golf course superintendent; Tennison, 37, music teacher; and Tommie, 33, who is a history teacher at a high school). Soon to be 5 grandees.
Where did you go to school for turfgrass management?
Northern Virginia Community College for my second degree. I started college on a full-ride in golf at Florida State University, then transferred to Boise State University and on to Skagit Valley Community College in Mount Vernon, WA where I played golf for them and became the golf coach after getting my AA degree in Journalism.
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Who was your earliest mentor in the industry and how did he inspire you?
My Dad of course being a very good golfer and golf course general manager at the end of his military career and into public life taught me a great deal over the phone about handling people and keeping centered. My Mom always had that big heart, but she could putt like Arnie, so she added to the brew. Wayne Huffine, the famous man from OK State in Agronomy gave me some key points along with Beard from Texas AM, HB Couch at VA Tech, Stanley Zontac and Deornoeden from U of MD. Ted Horton big help.
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What is your favorite part of the job, or least favorite?
Dealing with God’s miracle He presents to us every day with mother nature raw. The colors, the lines, the beauty, the shadows, the attainable goals, the unattainable goals you strive for within yourself and with your crew. Victories and challenges, its life that is different because as a superintendent, you deal with everything in your view and out of your view. Perfection isn’t achievable, but you can sure try your best. My least favorite, bullies of all sorts and walks of life!
Do you collect anything? Hub caps, license plates, signs…
I have an incredible array of memorabilia from my golf career, especially from Arnold Palmer. I also have a huge, very valuable gemstone collection of many quality stones from which I have had jewelry made. My 225,000 digital photos of nature and golf course daily life is my pride and joy.
What do you like to do away from work? If you have time to yourself, what do you like to do?
The only time I am away from work is on Sundays when I go to Sunday School and Church. As an Ordained Deacon we have work to do to help our members and the Church grow. The only time I have time for myself is at vacation time when I travel to the Northwest and fly fish and take pictures in the mountains and along the coast. I am a Mountain Man first but somehow settled in the flat lands of Florida. I get back there every fall to visit family and take in the wilds!