How did you get your start in the golf industry?
I started playing golf as a teenager and fell in love with the game as a young adult. After high school I worked a few years for my dad in the family business, a Tire and Automotive shop in North Lake Tahoe, CA. When realized the tire business wasn’t for me, I wasn’t sure what to do. It took me a few years and I found myself working on a maintenance crew in Reno, NV.
Can you tell us a few things about your early life, where were you born, what high school, first jobs?
I was born in Roseville, CA. My father is a Vietnam Vet and my mother taught middle school after growing up on a farm in Colorado. My younger sister and I learned the importance of hard work and commitment at an early age. I grew up going to work with my dad at the tire shop and by 15 was working weekends and pretty much anytime I was off of school or sports. We moved to Truckee, CA in 1989 when he started a new business. This was the summer between 8th and 9th grades. Went to high school at Tahoe Truckee High. We loved living, working, and playing in the mountains and we stayed busy. My motto became work hard – play harder and this was the place to do it. We played lots of sports. I lettered in Football, Wrestling, and Baseball. 1991 Nevada AA state football champions!
Can you tell us a little about your family, how you met your wife, kid’s names?
I met my wife Jill in a hair salon in Truckee. So long ago I actually had hair. We were friends for a year or so before things got serious and we haven’t been apart since. We have an 11-year-old son named Jonas and a 9-year-old daughter named Ivy. They are amazing and my rock. As we all know the business can be hard on family life and we are lucky to have been together from the beginning. She put up with me not being home for basically 3 years while I went to school or worked 7 days a week.
Where did you go to school for turfgrass management?
I started a bit late in the industry and went to school at Merritt College while doing construction and grow in project here in Oakland. While not known for their Turfgrass management program, their Horticulture program is solid and gave me a good foundation in soil and plant management.
Who was your earliest mentor in the industry and how did he inspire you?
I’d have to say Tim Powers at Crystal Springs in Hillsborough, CA. Tim kicked me in the backside encouraging me to go to school. He sent me over to Metropolitan Golf Links in the fall of 2001 prior to grow-in to do all the erosion control stuff and supported me when I asked to leave so I could finish the project. You always knew right where you stood with Tim which I liked and respected. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some amazing people. Gary Ingram at Metropolitan, Mike Kosak and Matt Dunmeyer at Sonoma Golf Club, and Randy Gai at Claremont are all mentors and I learned so much from them.
How do you work with people to create a team?
I’ve always been a lead by example guy. Clear and open communication is key. I learned Spanish early on and that’s helped for sure. I feel like my background in sports has helped and I’ve been a part of many teams both successful and unsuccessful. A successful team receives clear and consistent direction and has a solid understanding of why they are doing the things they do. I like to have fun at work and I love what I do. I think this rubs off on those around you.
What achievements are you most proud of?
I’m really proud of becoming the Director of Golf Course and Grounds at Claremont while helping to see my predecessor to his retirement after an amazing 35 + year career. I started here as an Assistant in 2009 and was promoted to Superintendent in 2011. The transition was smooth and I think all parties were more than satisfied with the way things worked out. Randy was able to retire at the end of 2013 and am most proud of helping to see him go out on his own terms.
What item or person could you not do without at your golf course?
The equipment manager is without a doubt the key person. Unfortunately, my skills in the shop are pretty weak. I depend on Armando Ramirez here at Claremont a great deal and he’s one of the best.
What is your favorite part of the job, least favorite?
I love seeing the sun come up every morning. That never gets old. I love bringing the family out to the course and spending time with them. It’s a great game with many great people involved and anytime I can share that with them it’s a good thing. As for my least favorite, I’d have to say the office work. I enjoy being out on the course working with the staff and talking with members. At this point, my responsibilities in the office take up most of my time.
Do you collect anything? Hub caps, license plates, signs…
I started collecting hickory-era golf clubs a while back and get a kick out of playing golf with the hickories. I also collect old and obscure art, music, and treasures from my favorite band.
What would you do if you won the lottery?
I’d take care of my parents and immediate family. Then we’d buy a house somewhere in the mountains where we could snowboard all winter and I could change cups at a local course in the summer.
Few people know I like to…
I’m really into music. I play drums. We try and get out to see live music anytime we can. The weirder the better.
What do you like to do away from work? If you have time to yourself what do you like to do?
Spending time with the family is best. We go to the mountains and snowboard a few times each winter. We love getting the kids in the car with their machines turned off. As soon as they say “we’re bored” we feel like we’ve accomplished something. A good golf trip is always fun and I try to get out somewhere and spend a few days away from our area. Preferably with my dad or some other grass growers. As far as time to myself, it’s rare but when it happens, I’m usually home cleaning or cooking with the stereo turned up to 11.