Ask Thad: What is your take on the GCSAA’s First Green program?

By |  June 27, 2024 0 Comments
(Graphic: Golfdom Staff)

(Graphic: Golfdom Staff)

What is your take on the GCSAA’s First Green program?

When I was young, my family owned a residential equestrian summer camp. We worked hard. Feeding horses, maintaining a 120-acre property, building maintenance, grounds, stall cleaning and fence repair. For eight weeks every summer we had campers that came and learned about horses and what real country living was all about. The other 44 weeks of the year were all on us. We grew up knowing the value of hard work, but it was the family business and not really a choice.

I learned about golf when I was 18 years old. I fell deeply in love with the game and my first job on the grounds crew came the following season. I worked at a nine-hole public course, that would eventually become my first superintendent job. My boss told me, “You should go to school for this.” My response, with a huge smile, was, “You can go to school for this?”

Golf course maintenance back in the 80s felt like an underground profession with secret handshakes and getting hired more for who you know than for who you were. The opportunity to get into the business felt like a quietly kept secret. This isn’t the case anymore, and I’m proud to say that it’s now one of the most respected positions in the golf industry.

First Green introduces school-aged kids to our industry, many from rural communities like the one I grew up in. Farm life isn’t for everyone and to have a light bulb go off and realize there are different avenues to pursue the same kind of business is sometimes the missing piece in a kid’s dreams. We’re all grass farmers at heart. Is our yield healthy turfgrass, aesthetic beauty, properly managed green space or rounds per year?

I truly appreciate the way I was introduced to this business. Luck, hard work and friendships have gotten me as far as I have come. Having a program like The First Green is the inclusive introduction that so many need to have.

About the Author: Thad Thompson

Thad Thompson is the superintendent at Terry Hills GC in Batavia, N.Y.

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