The 19th Hole: Thad Thompson

By |  April 21, 2017 0 Comments

Thad-Thompson_2RR_with-quote

Thad Thompson
Superintendent // Terry Hills GC, Batavia, N.Y.

So, Thad, this will be the first 19th Hole I’ve done in a state of emergency. Our governor declared a state of emergency last night at midnight before the snow even started. They’re saying up to 2 feet.

Tell me about your family. I’ve got two sons, Daley, who is 20, and Dylan, who is 18. Daley is at the University of Buffalo, getting ready to go for his Masters. Dylan is at (SUNY) Brockport and is a drummer in a heavy metal band.

Hey, Keystone Light cans? Excellent. Nobody’s cooler than Keith Stone.

What are your sports teams? Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres. I grew up around here. And we host the Jim Kelly Celebrity Classic every year.

Thad-CraigRTell me about your course, Terry Hills. It’s busy. It’s a 27-hole, daily fee course. It’s the home of the Jim Kelly Classic. We’re the first to open and the last to close in the area. And most important, it’s run by a great family; they’re extremely supportive.

So, do you know Jim Kelly? Well… I see him every year. He presented me with a bag last year for all my “outstanding work.”

Fill in the blank: In the next five years, the golf industry will…
Become much more transparent. We now have, in New York, publicly published best management practices. Environmental awareness is going to be at an all-time high. I think we can use it to our advantage for public relations. In New York state we have water reporting, which I bet will be made public at some point — which is fine because it’s going to show that I’m an environmental steward based on these things. It’s going to be more transparent, it’s got to be.

Tell me about your first superintendent job.
My first superintendent job, I got in the fall of ’91, it was one week into my last year in college. My best friend and mentor at the place I started at died of a heart attack on the 7th green. I was offered the job at his funeral. I ran a 9-hole public course while I was in college; I was still a 21-year-old kid.

That’s incredible. And your brother also is a superintendent? Drew likes to tell people I got him into this business, which is crap — he forged his own way. Now he’s the certified superintendent at East Aurora (N.Y.) CC. We get to work together one day a year. He gets to host the International Junior Masters every year, it’s the oldest junior golf invitational in North America. I go for the final round, we go and change the flags and have a cocktail as we do it.

OK, if I throw you a surprise birthday party, what do I need to make sure we have? My son’s heavy metal band, my neighbors and a big ol’ tub of Keystone Light.

As interviewed by Seth Jones, March 14, 2017.

Photos: Grant B. Gannon (thompson) seth jones (Kelly flag)

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