August 14, 2015 – When Palmetto-Pine Country Club needed someone to supervise the renovation of its golf course, Kevin Klafehn was the man they called.
After eight years away, Klafehn returned to Palmetto-Pine Country Club three months ago to restore what once was one of the premiere courses in Southwest Florida back into pristine condition.
Klafehn and his wife moved here from Rochester, N.Y., where he worked at Eastman-Kodak and she was a bus dispatcher. When he discovered he couldn’t make the same money down here, he found a new career in golf course maintenance.
Klafehn worked at Palmetto Pine for 12 years, serving as interim superintendent three times.
Klafehn, though, ended up at Gulf Harbor, where he spent eight years before returning to Palmetto Pine, first as a spray-tech, then as the permanent superintendent.
Klafehn’s task, to clean up a neglected course.
“It’s a daunting task, but in my time back we’ve started to bring it back,” Klafehn said. “It will take a couple years to get it back to when I left, but we’re making progress.”
Klafehn has started a plan to feed the course and accelerate the growth process to help eliminate weeds and keep the turf healthy and growing. He has also expanded the practice range tee and renovated the short game area.
Aesthetically, Klafehn has improved the visuals around the clubhouse by hedging and cleaning up vines and weeds.
Klafehn promoted one of his workers to landscaping tech to tackle that task, with remarkable results.
“He’s taken the bull by the horns and it’s pleasing to me that he loves doing his job and has made quite the difference,” Klafehn said. “As we go on we’ll give the place more color and make it more visually appealing.”
Board Member and liaison, Randy Jones said his staff has taken to his leadership and made huge strides in moving the club forward.
“Kevin’s leadership skills and management of the staff has played a vital role in the direction of the club. He has turned previous workers and new staff members into passionate ambassadors for the club. The change is showing immediate positive results,” Jones said in a statement.
The course is in its last phase of aerification of the summer and is slated to reopen Tuesday.
“People noticed the difference after the first aerification. After the third, many people are going to be impacted right away. It’s quite gratifying,” Klafehn said.
Palmetto-Pine Country Club is at 1940 S.W. 9th Court. For more information call (239) 574-2141