A Green Start grad’s homecoming

Green Start Academy alum Logan Murphy was thrilled to return for the 2018 edition of the event for assistant superintendents, this time as a speaker.


Green Start Academy group
Logan Murphy (far left), golf course superintendent at the No. 8 course at Pinehurst (N.C.) Resort, leads a breakout discussion about interviewing and personal branding at Green Start Academy in Cary, N.C. Murphy attended Green Start as an assistant in 2015. Photos by Andrew Hartsock

Three years ago, Logan Murphy filled up 15 pages of notes during his trip to Green Start Academy.

Then an assistant superintendent at the No. 2 course at Pinehurst (N.C.) Resort, Murphy enthusiastically jotted down every bit of information he could during Green Start Academy, a professional development program for assistant superintendents held annually in the Raleigh, N.C., area.

Three years later, Murphy was back and on the other side of the table. And yet, there he was once again, filling up his legal pad.

“To be honest, it’s great to be back,” said Murphy, who has been the superintendent at Pinehurst No. 8 since 2017 and is an eight-year association member. “I’m still busy writing down notes. I’m picking up as much this time as the first time.”

Murphy addressed the 56 assistants, selected from 117 candidates, at the event’s opening dinner on Wednesday, Oct. 24, and then led a breakout group discussion about interview skills and personal branding on Friday.

To prepare for his Raleigh address, Murphy located his notes from his first trip to Green Start Academy, a prestigious event co-sponsored by John Deere and Bayer that, since 2006, has given 660 of the nation’s top assistants a crash course in making the jump to superintendent.

As it turns out, Murphy’s original notes weren’t exactly collecting cobwebs. He’s not the type to save just any old thing — “But if I think it might be worth something later,” he says, “I’ll keep it.” Murphy held on to those notes, occasionally referring to them for the information they contained.

He read through them again on the eve of this year’s Green Start Academy, and he fondly recalled the advice given in 2015 by Lukus Harvey, GCSAA Class A director of agronomy at Atlanta Athletic Club and an 18-year association member.

“From Mr. Harvey, I wrote down, ‘Have fun,’” Murphy said in his opening address at Green Start Academy, before he too encouraged the assembled assistants to, “Have fun. Have fun this week. Have fun when you go back to work. Be serious, but have a good time.”

The old-notes-as-new-notes theme is a good speaker’s theme, but did Murphy really dig out his old jottings?

“Yeah, I did,” he said with a smile. “I got ’em in the pickup right now, if you want me to run and get ’em.”

Friday’s final day — held at John Deere’s facility in Cary, N.C. — began with a presentation from Carol Rau, golf career consultant, owner of Career Advantage LLC and a GCM columnist. Talks followed from Ed Ibarguen, general manager and PGA director of golf at Duke University Golf Club in Durham, N.C., and Billy Weeks, GCSAA Class A superintendent at Houston Country Club; Andy Morris, GCSAA Class A superintendent at Country Club of Peoria, in Peoria Heights, Ill., and Michael Stevens, Class A superintendent and regional director of agronomy for the Southeast for Billy Casper Golf; and Pat Finlen, CGCS, general manager of The Olympic Club in San Francisco, a 34-year association member and former GCSAA president.

“These are all great guys,” Murphy said. “Hearing them again makes me look forward to the future to try to be on that level someday.”

GCSAA membership certificates
Among the swag Green Start Academy attendees took home was a one-year GCSAA membership courtesy of program sponsors Bayer and John Deere.

Rau’s enthusiastic advice was geared toward helping the assistants — who had already set themselves apart just by being selected for Green Start Academy — stand out during the job search process. “Golf is ultimately a service industry,” she said. “If you remember that, you’ll do well.”

Weeks, a 20-year GCSAA member, and Ibarguen covered how assistants can find the perfect fit in their next job. To conclude the talk, Weeks showed an old photo of himself sitting behind a computer as his young daughter stood nearby. It was taken by Weeks’ wife, and he said that when he initially looked at the photo, he didn’t like what he saw. Though he was home, he was still in his work clothes, still working and oblivious to his daughter. “Don’t get so bogged down in work that you forget your family,” Weeks advised.

Morris and Stevens, both 19-year GCSAA members, talked about the importance of budgeting and urged assistants not already involved in that aspect of course management to become part of it. Both advocated establishing course standards. “That’s the first step,” Morris said, “in establishing your budget.”

Finally, Finlen led a wide-ranging discussion that touched on topics from robotic mowers to recommended reading. He encouraged the attendees to chase their fears and embrace failure.

“I can guarantee you, I’ve killed more grass than anybody in this room,” he said. “If you make a mistake, own it. ... You have to be humble.”

Andrew Hartsock is GCM’s managing editor.