The day I graduated Morehead State University with a degree in golf course management, I knew that it was only the beginning of a wonderful career. My career path outlook was that I would work at two or three different courses as an assistant superintendent, move up the GCSAA qualifications, land a superintendent position and work at a couple golf courses before I officially retire. But for me, it didn’t work out that way.
My first assistant position came at Andover Golf and Country in Lexington, Ky. I worked there for a total of seven years as an assistant, under two superintendents at the same golf course, and had many failed interviews before I landed my first superintendent position at Juniper Hill Golf Course in Frankfort, Ky. Don’t get me wrong, through those seven years, I worked for two qualified superintendents. One was focused on details and maintaining the golf course and the other had a construction/renovation background that led to a lot of projects. So working for two different superintendents, I felt I could really combine what I learned from each of them to give me a great advantage in my career. Also, I felt career-wise I was ready to step up and move on to the new challenge.
I enjoyed and had success in the three years that I spent at Juniper Hill, from getting the golf course back in shape, to a full-scale bunker renovation, to the building of a new green complex. But deep down I knew this wasn’t the area I wanted to be in. My wife and I have wanted to move to Northern Kentucky to be closer to family. So my job search began. I kept updated on the GCSAA website as well as other sites.
I knew it would be a long search due to the shortage of new golf courses being built, the amount of new students all over the country graduating from turf programs, and really only looking in a precise location. I knew my options were few and far between. I searched for almost an entire year, and hope was running out. I had already made my mind up that it was going to be my last year at Juniper Hill Golf Course as the superintendent regardless. I wanted my family to be happy and I knew where we had to be to do that.
Well, with the good Lord’s help, I found a job at Belterra Golf Club in Florence, Ind. After being a superintendent for three years, just receiving my Class A card, and getting ready to start working on my certification, I found a job that would put my family in the area we have been wanting to be in for three years now, as an assistant superintendent. Here is where my pride kicked in and said, “I’m a superintendent. I don’t want to take a step back.” After talking with my wife, family, fellow colleagues in my area, and even on the GCSAA forum, I began to understand something that was right in front of me that everyone else knew from their experience. Family comes first. That was the biggest part I personally and professionally had to overcome.
I worked for seven years to become a superintendent, and three years into it, I have to take a step back. But I also had more support than I thought I did, and no one was looking down on me for taking a step back in position. So I looked at it this way: In my career, I have worked for a private golf course for eight years, I worked for a public course for one year, I worked for a municipal golf course for three years, and now I get my chance to work for a resort golf course. This is experience that will help me to further my career farther than I might have imagined.
And by taking this new position, I am working with another great superintendent in Blake Miller, who has been at Belterra since the beginning. He helped construct and grow in the golf course, so I knew I was working for a superintendent that had a vast amount of knowledge. I know I will learn a lot from him. I have enjoyed getting out on the course more, getting my hands dirty again, being the guy that is heavily relied on to be the second eyes and ears on the golf course.
But I have not given up on becoming a superintendent again. One day I will, but for the time being, I will enjoy this transition.