How did you get your start in the golf industry?
I started my career in high school where, after being cut from the school golf team, I applied for a job at TPC Eagle Trace in Coral Springs, home of the Honda Classic. My first job on the golf course was filling divots and hand raking bunkers, but I loved the big tournament feel of how everything comes together after all the careful planning and preparations.
After my family moved to Lake Geneva I enrolled at UW-Madison in 1987 and spent four years in the school’s turf program. Meanwhile Fred Klauk, the super that hired me at TPC Eagle Trace, moved from Eagle Trace to Sawgrass and invited a young intern to come along. I spent my summers out of school at Sawgrass living in the shop and saving for school. After graduating in 1991, I took the position of crew foreman at Sawgrass, which turned out to be a good move. I was offered the superintendent position at Ekana Golf & Country Club in 1992.
Ekana Golf & Country Club turned out to need a lot of work which gave me valuable experience in renovation and construction. A year and a half later I took a position at the famed Pine Tree Golf Course in Boynton Beach, FL. This was a big change going from a low budget, low-pressure course, to a high budget, high-pressure course. In 1999 I moved to Greystone Golf & Country Club in Birmingham, Alabama and took the superintendent job there. I thought that Greystone would be my last move but then my old friend Fred Klauk called me to say he was retiring and asked if I might be interested in the job, and the rest is, as they say, history.
Can you tell us a little about your family?
I met my wife in Oviedo, Florida at Twin Rivers Golf Club. She was the marketing manager and I was the superintendent. We now have five daughters named Natalie, Holly, Jenna, Amy and Millie. We home schooled all of them. Our oldest daughter is a Freshman in college at Vanderbilt University studying piano performance and our youngest daughter Millie is three years old. Our family motto is, what we do, we do together.
Where did you go to school for turfgrass management?
I majored in soil science and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Wisconsin-Madison 1991.
Who was your earliest mentor in the industry and how did he inspire you?
My earliest mentor was retired golf course superintendent Fred Klauk. He gave me my first job at age 14 at TPC Eagle Trace. He used me to help in preparation for the Honda Classic, a PGA Tour Event. I filled divots and raked bunkers. My love for tournament golf was created.
How do you work with people to create a team?
I believe in empowering individuals. Provide them with the tools needed. Get out of their way. I believe in the One Minute Manager’s book philosophy. You get what you inspect, not what you expect. No employee works for me, we all work together.
What achievements are you most proud of?
Celebrating over 20 years of marriage with five wonderful daughters.
What item or person could you not do without at your golf course?
Sunshine. Superintendents know how damaging cloudy, overcast weather can be to the turf.
What is your favorite part of the job, least favorite?
My favorite part of the job is riding the golf course with my family in the evening after it has been cleared of golf. I enjoy having the quiet time to admire the beauty of the property. The least favorite part of the job is the early mornings.
What would you do if you won the lottery?
I’d set up a foundation to give to those charities’ that my wife and I care about: installing water wells with local churches and pastors. We believe it is important to provide the gospel with living water.
A few people I’d like to meet….
Ronald Regan, George W. Bush, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson
What do you like to do away from work?
Vacation with my wife and girls. Go to the ocean. I love to read.