The Moore family — patriarch Jim (center) and brothers Travis (left) and Andrew (right) — have made a name for themselves in the golf course management business in Waco, Texas. Not pictured is Kay Moore, who also has a long history in the industry. Photo courtesy of Art Stricklin
The fraternity of golf course superintendents has always been viewed as a large, extended family, with superintendents going out of their way to help their brothers or sisters in arms in making their courses better and more enjoyable for others.
But in Waco, Texas, the Moore family is taking that to the extreme. Two brothers hold the title of head superintendent at two of the most prominent courses in this Central Texas town, closely watched by a father who spent three-plus decades working in the golf business with the USGA and a mother who served as office manager for it all.
“Same city, same job ... what are the chances of that?” says Andrew Moore, the newly hired superintendent at the semiprivate Bear Ridge Golf Club. “We’ve always done what we liked. But my dad had a big part in us getting involved in superintendent work. We were laying pipe and doing electrical work, probably, at the age of 7 or 8.”
The Moore family roster — which you will probably need, to keep from getting confused — includes Andrew, 33, and his brother, Travis, 36, the GCSAA Class A superintendent at private Ridgewood Country Club in Waco. Their father is Jim, 69, who recently retired following a three-decade career as the director of education and outreach for the USGA Green Section.
And don’t forget about the family matriarch, Kay, who spent decades as an office manager for Jim and holds a horticulture degree from Texas A&M. There are Moores who are not involved in the golf business — daughter, Allison, and another son, Patrick — but they’re still welcome at family reunions. And like Kay, the entire clan graduated from Texas A&M.
“A lot of superintendent work is networking. Who do you know? What job is open? Who would fit here? We consider family time as the ultimate networking,” says Jim, a 31-year member of GCSAA.
Case in point: When the USGA came calling and Jim left a job as the superintendent at Ridgewood Country Club — yes, the same Ridgewood that Travis cares for today — he made only one request of the USGA before he accepted the job.
“I told them Kay had to be my office manager, which she was for over three decades,” he recalls. “She knows as much about grasses and courses as me and the boys do.”
Since those early days with the Green Section, the Moores and the golf course management business have been intricately tied. At one time, Jim, Andrew and Travis worked together building a golf course in Waco, and the two brothers have worked for one another in various roles over the years. They have also worked in the same cities for different courses, like they are now in Waco, and through it all have always kept the unbreakable work and family bond intact.
“I’m not going to lie,” says Travis, a 15-year GCSAA member. “It’s really cool we are all here together.”
The 15th hole at Ridgewood Country Club in Waco, Texas, where Travis Moore serves as superintendent. Travis previously served as superintendent at Bear Ridge Golf Club in Waco, where his brother, Andrew, is now superintendent. Photo courtesy of Travis Moore
Jim says he never set out to make sure his sons worked in the profession he had chosen, much less in the same city. In fact, he was a bit worried when they started working so closely together, but was pleased with the initial outcome and how their relationship has grown over the years.
“They have worked for each other and with each other. Their mother and I were concerned for a while, but they’ve never fought on the course and worked well together,” Jim says.
Andrew, a two-year member of GCSAA, says, “It brings us closer together, because we have the same goal.”
In fact, the family togetherness is one of the reasons new Bear Ridge owner Tommy Tompkins decided to hire Andrew away from his previous job as an assistant superintendent at historic Oak Hills Country Club in San Antonio to help oversee the massive restoration underway at Bear Ridge.
“I’m fortunate to have hired someone so knowledgeable with so many local contacts,” Tompkins says.
Under a previous owner, Bear Ridge also welcomed Travis as head superintendent in 2007. From there, he went to San Antonio, returning to Waco in 2013 for the job at Ridgewood. Now, he and Andrew talk shop frequently, both about his new course at Ridgewood and his old stomping grounds at Bear Ridge.
“I am fortunate I have my dad and my brother here to help with questions or situations. I have always come up along with a group of friends and fellow workers who have helped me in the past,” Andrew says. “If I have a question, I will holler at Travis, ‘Where did we put that sprinkler head? Was that tree always here?’ It’s been a big help.”
Leaving their mark
Jim says the family training for a career in golf course maintenance came early, when all three sons worked with him to build a short course at the city-owned Cottonwood Creek Golf Course in Waco in the late 1990s. “We got a grant from the USGA, and I wanted to prove you could build a short course with the people and the money you had,” he says.
The four Moores, with some additional assistance, did all of the shaping, grassing and overall construction work for the nine-hole course, which is still in use today, with thousands of golfers annually playing the layout.
Family guys: (from left) Travis, Andrew and Jim Moore. Photo courtesy of Art Stricklin
“Patrick, Andrew, Travis and I worked together to build the junior course,” Jim says. “They were on the dozer and the earth mover when they were 10, 12 years old, plus laying pipe and electrical. You would probably get arrested if you tried that today.”
Editor’s note: Among the Lone Star State’s many golf offerings is a course that bears the name of a beloved superintendent. Discover Roy Kizer Golf Course.
While the boys learned it was a lot of dirty, hard work at times, they grew to love and appreciate it as well.
“A lot of people who play golf don’t understand what superintendents do. When you grow up around it, you know the superintendent side,” Travis says. “With superintendent work, if you don’t love it, you won’t stay with it. I feel good I have two sounding boards; they are my bounce-backs for me. We always got to do what we wanted in life, and I enjoy going to work every day.”
That doesn’t mean they’re not opposed to some friendly family banter when they’re playing the golf courses they work at, hitting a local fishing spot or just spending time with family, who all live within 20 minutes of one another. But there is nothing like sharing their course management passion with the ones they’re closest to.
“Superintendents are a tight-knit group, and we are here to help each other,” Andrew says.
For this Waco threesome, you can say it’s a family tradition.
Art Stricklin is a freelance golf writer from Plano, Texas, and a frequent contributor to GCM.