A fresh start for Green Start

By |  November 18, 2021 0 Comments
Bob Farren, CGCS, Pinehurst Resort, talks to attendees of the 2021 Green Start Academy about the origins of The Cradle, the resort’s new short course. (Photo: Golfdom Staff)

Bob Farren, CGCS, Pinehurst Resort, talks to attendees of the 2021 Green Start Academy about the origins of The Cradle, the resort’s new short course. (Photo: Golfdom Staff)

For the first time in its 15-year history, Green Start Academy was hosted at Pinehurst Resort. Bob Farren, CGCS, director of golf course and grounds management, Pinehurst (N.C.) Resort and Country Club, welcomed the group of 50 assistant superintendents and told them how happy he was to see the group on his home turf.

“I’ve been involved in Green Start Academy for a number of years, and I’ve always dreamed of having it here at Pinehurst, I really have,” Farren told Golfdom. “I come away from it every year being encouraged by what the future holds for our industry.”

The event, sponsored by Bayer Environmental Science, John Deere and Rain Bird, is meant for assistant superintendents looking to advance in their careers. It was previously held at the Bayer Development and Training Center in Clayton, N.C., the John Deere Turf Care Facility in Fuquay-Varina, N.C., and the John Deere headquarters in Cary, N.C.

With the new location came additional programming for attendees. A more robust group of veteran superintendent speakers came to Pinehurst to mentor this year’s crop of Green Start Academy attendees. Just to name a few, Seth Miller, Troon CC, Scottsdale, Ariz., teamed up with Lukus Harvey, Atlanta Athletic Club, Johns Creek, Ga., to speak on the importance of diversity as well as how to handle pressure; Matt Fauerbach, agronomist for Indigo Golf Partners, spoke on the future of the golf industry; and Pat Finlen, CGCS, Winchester CC, Meadow Vista, Calif., gave a talk on the digital transformation of the golf industry.

And for a break in the intellectual programming, attendees were shuttled to the Pinehurst Clubhouse to enjoy a round on the facility’s new short course, The Cradle.

Bayer’s Jennifer Poore said that partnering with John Deere and Rain Bird to host the Green Start Academy fit in with the company’s long-term vision and goals.

“As a company we’re really passionate about professional development, so it’s natural we would give back to the industry in this way,” Poore said. “Every year, my predecessors would tell me that someone who had participated in a past program would come up and thank them for their involvement and tell them that it made a difference and helped move them to the next level.”

This was the first year for Rain Bird to join Green Start Academy. Kody Key, Central Regional Sales Manager, Rain Bird, said that Rain Bird was eager to support the group in attendance today as well as in their future career.

“Rain Bird took advantage of an opportunity to partner with Bayer and John Deere, to be supportive of the industry and the education of our future leaders,” Key said, “It’s such a great opportunity for the 50 assistants here, to be a part of an event where they can be mentored by nine industry-leading superintendents that are going to take a vested interest in their future career, and start building the network that they’ll need through their career.”

Evan McFadden, assistant superintendent at Martis Camp Club in Truckee, Calif., said he was happy to be learning material at Green Start Academy that he couldn’t get from a textbook.

“I’m always trying to propel my career, and this was a great opportunity to get some professional development,” McFadden said. “I get to work on some softer skills that I want to build. I want to get the other intangibles that we don’t get on the golf course every day.”

Farren was happy to serve as the welcoming speaker, a leader on a panel discussion and the starter on The Cradle. Bert Schmidt, global manager of market development and strategy, John Deere, said that Farren serving as the master of ceremonies was the ideal scenario for Green Start Academy.

“We couldn’t have a better supporter than Bob Farren,” Schmidt said. “He’s been with the Green Start Program for over a decade, and he’s wanted to host this, so I’m glad we were able to make it a reality.”

Farren added that he wasn’t just helping Green Start Academy attendees, but that they were also helping him.

“When you see the people who are selected to be here, they are passionate about the industry and confident in it. It gives me confidence going forward,” Farren said. “Bayer and John Deere have been investing in it for years, and I think they can see the tangible benefits of their investments, and with Rain Bird coming in, it adds another layer of effort.”

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About the Author: Seth Jones

Seth Jones, a 25-year veteran of the golf industry media, is Editor-in-Chief of Golfdom magazine and Athletic Turf. A graduate of the University of Kansas School of Journalism and Mass Communications, Jones began working for Golf Course Management in 1999 as an intern. In his professional career he has won numerous awards, including a Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA) first place general feature writing award for his profile of World Golf Hall of Famer Greg Norman and a TOCA first place photography award for his work covering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In his career, Jones has accumulated an impressive list of interviews, including such names as George H.W. Bush, Samuel L. Jackson, Lance Armstrong and Charles Barkley. Jones has also done in-depth interviews with such golfing luminaries as Norman, Gary Player, Nick Price and Lorena Ochoa, to name only a few. Jones is a member of both the Golf Writers Association of America and the Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association. Jones can be reached at sjones@northcoastmedia.net.

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