Mr. Stone, thank you

By |  December 12, 2016 0 Comments

Jared-Nemitz_19thHole2RR_300This month marks the end of an extraordinary career for David Stone. He will be stepping aside as the golf course superintendent of 34 years at The Honors Course in Tennessee. While his career may be ending, many more career paths have been paved. My career is one of them. I am fortunate to have the unique platform and opportunity to publicly say “Thank you” to a man I highly respect and to whom I owe much.

I could list Stone’s accomplishments but there is no need. Being the only superintendent to be inducted into the Tennessee Golf Hall of Fame and a recipient of the USGA’s Green Section Award speaks for itself.

As a turf student at Purdue University, my professor and I were trying to figure out plans for my next internship. I had finished my first internship and was unsure if something could top that experience. He thought I should go to The Honors Course and work for David Stone.

That decision would forever change the course of my career. David allowed me to do an educational internship with him in 2004. I learned much during my brief time with him and his wisdom helped shape who I am today.

David taught me the importance of playing golf as part of managing the grounds. He would say, “You have to play the course to know what the golfer is experiencing.” Playability was more important to David than just the aesthetics.

When I arrived at The Honors Course to begin my internship, David was there to greet me and show me where I would be staying. The first question he asked me after my 8-hour drive was, “What is your handicap?” He proceeded to inform me that they needed to put the index in for the next day’s game.
Game? I was ready for my 14-hour work day! Needless to say, I was shocked to learn that every Monday after lunch the entire staff played in a golf game organized by Stone. While the game was fun, it put into perspective to the staff the playability of the course.

He taught me to try new things, test new products and research new practices. I once came up with a plan to use different fertilizers that I thought would create a better color response to his zoysia fairways. He had only been managing them for 20 years.

I could tell he knew what my results would be, but he let me put out the test plots and give it a go. Four weeks later I had to go into the office and admit my shortcomings. The results of my plan were exactly what he knew was going to happen. But he let me learn and had encouraged it.

David may be known for his love of the game, love of the environment and for being an ambassador for golf, but he will also be known for his mentoring. He mentored me that summer, but mentored Nelson Caron, one of his assistants, for many years. Because of Stone, Nelson became the superintendent at The Ford Plantation. I went on to work for Nelson, where I continued to be mentored and groomed for my current position. David and Nelson taught me the importance of reaching out to others in the industry for education and mentoring opportunities of my own so I could experience the ultimate level of growth in my career.

Mr. Stone, as you retire, remember all of those on which you have had an impact. Remember the many people who have played your golf course and walked away with a smile and a memorable day. Remember those who have had their lives changed because of you. Remember us, because we will remember you.

Thank you, Mr. Stone. I would not be where and who I am today without you.

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