From concrete to turf: Bobby Bolin’s journey to Shinnecock

By |  June 19, 2018 0 Comments
Bolin and Jennings standing in the fairway

Bobby Bolin (left) with Jon Jennings, CGCS.

It’s a little over 1,500 miles from Albion, Neb., to the maintenance facility at Shinnecock Hills. It’s a journey Assistant Superintendent Bobby Bolin was happy to make if it meant being involved with the 2018 U.S. Open.

Bolin was raised in Albion, a small town outside of Omaha where his family owns a 400-acre farm inherited from his grandfather. From a young age, Bolin was taught the value of hard work and gained an appreciation for the outdoors by working alongside his father.

From the age of 10 up until he graduated high school, Bolin spent his summers working long hours in construction, and afterwards he would head home and farm with his dad. Most of those hours were spent pouring concrete, which was his father’s main business.

When he had time, he would go out with his grandparents to the local golf course. It was here that he grew to enjoy the little nuances of the course.

During junior golf and junior tournaments throughout high school, he would see things that he didn’t like and did like, constantly critiquing.

“That is kind of what got me into the business. I was playing high school tournaments where some people were setting up the golf courses way too hard and some were setting them up way too easy. I knew I was never going to become a pro, but I liked working outside and it is sort of like a farm.”

After graduating high school, Bolin decided to attend the University of Nebraska, where he completed a four-year program in turfgrass & landscape management. From there he moved on to his first full-time position at Omaha Country Club, where he worked as an assistant in training. While there, Bolin had the opportunity to work the 2013 Senior Open, his first major event. Then in March 2015, Bolin moved east to become an assistant superintendent at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, a position he still holds today.

His primary role at the course is applying the chemicals and fertilizer, as well as scheduling and ordering them. In a way, chemicals and fertilizers have been his specialty since his days on the farm.

“I started when I was young because I did a lot of stuff around the farm. I have always been around herbicides for crops and pesticides. Then when I started to get into turf seriously, it became something that I was told to focus on as an intern at Lake Shore Country Club in Chicago,” he says.

Now he likes to experiment with different mixes when he can, tweaking them to see if he can make them better. It’s the challenge that drives him, something he enjoys very much.

Bolin’s goal is to one day become a certified golf course superintendent, but his goal for today is to get Shinnecock Hills through the U.S. Open and then ready for the next big event — the member championship, which comes immediately after the conclusion of the U.S. Open.

As interviewed by Seth Jones, written by Dillan Kanya.

Photo: Seth Jones

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