Mere minutes following the completion of the seventh annual Green Start Academy, signs pointed toward a smashing success for the event.
Golf course assistant superintendents said their goodbyes this afternoon as they departed the Bayer Environmental Science Technical Training Center in Clayton, N.C. It was apparent, though, something truly special had just gone down.
Handshakes and smiles proved to be abundant. Business cards were traded. New friendships blossomed.
And, talk about being fired up. The buses that were about to transport the assistants and others in attendance such as guest speakers and media to the airport had not even left the premises when it became clear as the Carolina blue sky overhead that the message for what had just occurred over the past three days had been received.
"I already had an assistant email me his resume," said Chris Carson, superintendent at Echo Lake CC in Westfield, N.J., who was checking his phone after he had wrapped up the proceedings less than a half an hour earlier with his presentation entitled "The 10 Things I Wish They'd Taught Me at Turf School." Carson, you see, drove home the point how important a resume can be for assistants who want to take that next step in their careers. Carson invited assistants to email him with questions, and he would gladly critique their resumes, too. Somebody, as Carson noted, wasn't wasting any time.
Others obviously caught on, in a variety of ways. In that case, mission accomplished.
Assistants had to apply online, write a 500-word essay, and hope the panel of experts chose them to attend. Fifty were selected to come to North Carolina, flown and housed their at John Deere Golf and Bayer's expense. Plus, they received GCSAA perks: 1.25 education points and a one-year paid membership.
How could they not, after all, leave feeling fulfilled, with certified golf course superintendents such as Pat Finlen, Bob Farren, Ken Mangum, and Paul Grogan in the house, sharing their wealth of experience and knowledge?
The environment was a key topic thread throughout the event. Assistant Tom Quinn from Pine Brook CC in Massachusetts got the drift. He left with the goal of taking that message back home and putting it into action.
"I learned to be more aware of what's around you, the environment that surrounds the golf course," Quinn said, "and I am personally going to help advocate sustainability, doing more than just leaving it up to other people to get the word out."
That's the spirit.
Also today, assistants got to hear from Rachelle Thibert, John Deere's manager of marketing planning for its agriculture and turf division, about the coming final Tier 4 regulations. Doug Karcher, associate professor in the Department of Horticulture at the University of Arkansas, led a session on "Gadgets, Gizmos: Using Technology to Diagnose and Communicate Turf Management Problems."
As mentioned, Carson, a 27-year GCSAA member, put the finishing touches on the Green Start Academy with an energetic, enthusiastic offering. He implored assistants to play golf at least once a week ("it should be in our contracts to play once a week, to see what they (members, patrons) see," he said. Carson also wanted them to leave with at least three ways they could improve their operation when they returned to their courses.
Dallas Cockrell, assistant at Wichita CC, left with the ultimate in mind.
"My goal is to be the superintendent at a club that hosts a major," Cockrell said.
Read more about Green Start Academy in the December issue of GCM.