SOI 2017: Teach your children well

By |  December 14, 2017 0 Comments

Most superintendents love their jobs, but not all want to see their kids follow in their footsteps.

Superintendents who also take on fatherhood have been passing on their love of golf and turf maintenance to their children for decades. In the 1960s, Golfdom even sponsored the Golf Course Superintendents Association’s annual father-and-son luncheon at the annual convention.

There still are notable father-son duos in the industry, but with enrollment in collegiate turf programs falling and the number of assistant superintendent positions rising, will the sons and daughters of today’s superintendents be part of the next generation of superintendents?

Patrick Reuteman took over as superintendent at Westmoor Country Club, Brookfield, Wis., in January 2017, after more than four years as the club’s assistant superintendent. The 2013 University of Wisconsin graduate has not yet started a family, but says he would encourage his future son or daughter if they wanted to join the industry, with some stipulations.

“I would strongly encourage them to get a turf degree and tell them to be aware of what they’re getting themselves into,” says Reuteman. “It’s not the highest paying job, but what I get from it is much greater than any monetary gains that I receive.”

Reuteman, who interned with the MLB’s Milwaukee Brewers during the 2011 season, adds that he would suggest they try different experiences to find what part of the turf maintenance industry fits best for them.

Amos Stephens, superintendent of golf course operations and general manager at Wasilla, Alaska’s Settlers Bay Golf Course, agrees with Reuteman that he would encourage his son or daughter if they wanted to enter the industry. The golf course superintendent of 12 years would support them because golf has given him opportunities he never dreamed of when he moved from his birth state of Kentucky to The Last Frontier in 2000.

“I would if they showed an interest,” Stephens says. “You have to tell them that in their mind they have to believe that, ‘No one is going to grow grass better than me.’ There’s not a better place, in my opinion, to meet the movers and the shakers of your community. I came to Alaska and didn’t know a soul, and without a pot to piss in. Now, I’m pretty well known and understood up here, and it’s all through hard work and golf.”

None of Kevin Rotti’s children ever expressed an interest in turf maintenance. The superintendent of Legacy Club at Alaqua Lakes in Longwood, Fla., says he wouldn’t encourage it, and admits he has tried to talk some individuals out of becoming superintendents.

Though he loves his job and the industry, he wouldn’t recommend it as a career after years of watching his colleagues in Florida lose their superintendent jobs.

“There have been so many quality superintendents in our area that kind of got a raw deal and are now sales reps,” says Rotti. “With this area in particular, it’s bad because of how prevalent the management companies are.

“When someone tells me they want to pursue the business as a career, I lay out all of the negatives of the job for them,” he notes. “I almost try to scare them away from the business starting out, and if they still want to pursue it after that, I know they are serious and they might be able to make it a career.”

To read other articles included in the 2018 State of the Industry Report, click here.

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