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The Moores, the merrier

By |  November 5, 2020 0 Comments
Travis, Jim and Andrew Moore (Photo: Jeff Wilson)

Travis (left) and Andrew (right) Moore share a deep connection to their courses. Jim Moore (center) is a former superintendent at Ridgewood Country Club, where Travis is superintendent. Travis is a former superintendent at Bear Ridge Golf Club, where Andrew is superintendent. (Photo: Jeff Wilson)

It’s dinner time at the Moore family home outside of Waco, Texas, and Jim and his wife, Kay, sons Andrew and Travis, daughter-in-law Carly and grandsons Shane and Wyatt gathered to once again to break bread and talk about turf.

Jim and Kay Moore retired from the USGA Green Section, Jim as director of education and outreach and Kay as USGA office manager. Sons Andrew and Travis are golf course superintendents. Andrew is at Bear Ridge Golf Club, and Travis is at Ridgewood Country Club, both in Waco. The Moores’ other children, Patrick and Allison, have pursued careers outside of turf.

With two children in the business, dinnertime conversations inevitably revolve around turf. Although, Patrick once asked his mom, “Have you ever had a conversation that didn’t revolve around golf at the dinner table?” Kay said no. The topic at this dinner: proper verticutter height.

When you’re a member of the Moore family, turf comes with the territory. Travis and Carly’s 3-year-old son Wyatt is already spending time on the course.

“Wyatt is already checking greens with me,” Travis says. “He knows what I’m talking about when I say ‘hey, let’s go check greens.’ I really enjoy bringing him out.”

Early days

Before joining the USGA, Jim was a superintendent and took Kay for an evening look at the course. They came across an older couple playing, and the couple complimented him on the conditions. Jim says he immediately started to point out all the course’s faults.

“We drove off and Kay said, ‘You know you’re going to have to learn to say thank you and shut up,’” he says. “I think that’s a good lesson for superintendents everywhere. You get worried about all that stuff, and it can overshadow all the good things about it.”

Kay was a pioneer of working from home. She was the office coordinator of USGA Green Section Education when Jim was on the road with USGA. The Moores say the days before cellphones meant office hours weren’t the traditional 9-to-5.

“Kay would get a lot of calls after hours, and I would call in from a hotel and get the messages from her,” Jim says. “I don’t know how she was able to stick it out.”

Nine-year-old Patrick Moore, 15-year-old Travis Moore and 13-year-old Andrew Moore help construct the junior course at Cottonwood Creek Golf Course in Waco, Texas. (Photo: The Moore family)

Nine-year-old Patrick Moore, 15-year-old Travis Moore and 13-year-old Andrew Moore help construct the junior course at Cottonwood Creek Golf Course in Waco, Texas. (Photo: The Moore family)

Jim says in the earlier days, he would dictate reports of the courses he visited as a consultant for the Green Section while driving, and he would hand those tapes to Kay, who would transcribe them and put them into a report. When he was back in Waco, Jim would edit the typed-up reports, and Kay would start the next batch.

“All during that, she somehow raised three little boys,” Jim says, noting Kay and Carly have “done every bit as much to make these careers work as the guys who are showing up to the course every morning.”

Kay says simply, “You just do what you have to do.”

Building memories

A favorite memory for the Moore family of Jim’s time working for the USGA was how the family helped build a junior course at Cottonwood Creek Golf Course, a municipal golf course in Waco. Cottonwood Creek was a major collaborator with many of Jim’s research projects. At the time, Jim was director of construction education, and he said the goal was to show that junior course construction on a budget was feasible.

“We got the idea to prove that we could do something on a lot smaller scale with an existing golf course with the cooperation of a superintendent,” Jim says.

Travis, Carly, Kay, Wyatt, Jim, Shane and Andrew Moore spend many a family meal talking turf. (Photo: Jeff WIlson)

Travis, Carly, Kay, Wyatt, Jim, Shane and Andrew Moore spend many a family meal talking turf. (Photo: Jeff WIlson)

Mike Hurdzan, Ph.D., offered to help, along with Jim, Travis, Patrick and Andrew. Superintendent J.D. Franz carved out 5 or 6 acres for the course. Both Travis and Andrew say building something together is a great memory to share.

“You look back, and you think ‘That was pretty cool that I got to do that with these guys,’” Travis says.

Ahead of the curve

Jim is beyond an early adopter when it comes to technology. Mike Kenna, Ph.D., former director of USGA Green Section Research, says that penchant for technology gave Jim an unusual title.

“We used to tease him that he was a doctor of gizmology,” Kenna says. “If there was a gizmo out there, something new — laptop computers, cellphones, temperature devices, soil moisture meters, anything technology oriented, Jim was always out in front of that.”

Kimberly Erusha, Ph.D., former managing director of the USGA’s Green Section, says this helped the Green Section stay ahead of the curve.

“Jim would really step up and work out the bugs and say this is how we could do it,” she says. “We would be able to incorporate that into some of our programs.”

An example is his use and interest in aerial photography. Before unmanned aerial vehicles and drones, Jim would set up a large kite with a remote-controlled camera to take aerial photographs of courses. Now, he preprograms drones to take aerial photos of Bear Ridge and Ridgewood.

“I can take the exact same photos, with the same altitude,” Jim says, noting Travis will overlay the photography with his irrigation as-builts. “They can do comparisons, and that’s particularly helpful on a grow-in with new greens like Andrew was doing.”

Patrick, Kay, Andrew, Carly and Travis with the U.S. Open trophy when Jim Moore was in charge of bringing the trophy to the Golf Industry Show. (Photo: The Moore family)

Patrick, Kay, Andrew, Carly and Travis with the U.S. Open trophy when Jim Moore was in charge of bringing the trophy to the Golf Industry Show. (Photo: The Moore family)

Jim jumped on early with personal computers. He said he wanted to create a program to track periodic maintenance on golf course equipment, something similar to tracking maintenance on planes when he was in the Air Force.

“Part of my job in the military was tracking equipment, and we tried to predict when it would fail based on its maintenance history,” he says. “When I became a superintendent, you have 20 different pieces of equipment. There’s no good way to track equipment. I did some small applications for tracking equipment maintenance. What I did back then, guys would look at now and fall out of their chair, but at the time, it was cutting edge.”

Resource management

While at the USGA, Jim wanted to look at where golfers were and weren’t going on the course, thinking there were areas unnecessarily maintained. Moore worked with Matt Pringle, USGA’s senior director of research, science and innovation, to track golfers’ whereabouts on the course. While Pringle wanted to see where pace of play slowed down, Moore wanted to observe the areas where golfers did and didn’t go.

Using Cottonwood Creek, Jim says they collected hundreds and hundreds of data points of a diverse set of golfers.

“What it showed us was Cottonwood had an easy 14 to 15 acres (that could be taken out of play),” he says. “I could prove to them these areas did not need to be maintained.”

He and the USGA worked with the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas, to experiment with and identify the best cultural practices for the out-of-play areas at Cottonwood Creek. These plots still exist, almost a decade later.

Course connection

The family ties don’t just end with turf. Jim, Travis and Andrew have worked at the same courses, as Jim was once superintendent of Ridgewood, and Travis was once superintendent of Bear Ridge.

Bear Ridge, once known as Twin Rivers Golf Club, is an 18-hole semiprivate course designed by Peter Jacobson and Jim Hardy in 2001. Ridgewood is an 18-hole private course that first opened in 1947. Ralph Plummer redesigned Ridgewood in 1962. Jim says it’s almost innate that a superintendent will see a course he once worked at as his own.

“It’s been 35 years since I’ve been a superintendent at Ridgewood and still driving by, I think of it as my course,” he says. “Not as much since Travis is there, but you get that kind of connection to anything. You’re not just going to leave that there when you go home.”

Travis, GCSAA Class A, agrees, noting he’s invested in Andrew’s renovation.

“That’s probably why I talk to Andrew as much as I do about Bear Ridge because I was a superintendent there and Andrew helped me when I was there,” he says. “Plus, it gives me an excuse to think about something other than my real job. I can go bother him at his real job.”

Andrew was previously an assistant superintendent at Oak Hills Country Club in San Antonio, but his career path hasn’t always been destined for turf. While the entire family graduated from Texas A&M, Andrew went on to get a master’s in international affairs and worked overseas.

“Andrew has a different way of looking at things in general,” Jim says. “I think it’s helped him as a superintendent. It gives him a broader perspective.”

Mowing, not slowing down

Retirement has meant Jim helps Travis and Andrew on their courses. Bear Ridge is undergoing a major renovation, and Andrew is building a crew. Jim fills in when needed. Andrew says he’s enjoyed watching his dad work with a newer employee in the shop at Bear Ridge.

“It’s fun seeing them work together, seeing (the new employee) as a mechanic and seeing dad’s mechanical chops being put back to use,” he says.

Kay says she’s thankful that the boys live close and that they’re able to get their dad out of the house.

“I call Andrew once a week to thank him,” she says.

Both Travis and Andrew say they enjoy bouncing ideas off their dad about a chemical application or another issue, and they enjoy teaching their dad new things.

“The most frustrating thing about Dad is he’s right way too often,” Travis says. “You have to listen to him even if you don’t want to; you’ve got to at least consider it.”

Both boys keep Jim on standby for tournament preparation. Ridgewood recently hosted the Texas Senior Amateur Championship, and Jim was out talking green speeds with Travis.

However, Travis and Andrew do have some strict ground rules when it comes to having their dad help.

“I’ve been told to do my mowing,” Jim says. “It’s not my job to tell (golfers) where they can and can’t drive.”

Family first

Both Kay and Jim say they enjoy seeing what kind of superintendents their sons have become.

“They treat people they work with really well,” Jim says. “I’m more proud of that than that they have good greens.”

He’s also working on a golf simulator in his shop, with the hope to unveil it to the family at Thanksgiving this year.

“Golf has been awful good to our family,” Jim says. “I think all of us realize we’ve had good careers in golf. For our family as a whole, that’s given us a chance to take care of our family, have a place to live and have some good experiences.”

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