Dave Davies’ turf/life balancing act

The TPC Stonebrae director of agronomy recommends mixing work and play.


Dave Davies
Dave Davies, CGCS (right) of TPC Stonebrae in Hayward, Calif., chats with a fellow Golf Industry Show attendee. Davies presented today’s education session titled “Turf/Life Balance: Overcoming Everyday Obstacles.” Photo by Howard Richman

Dave Davies, CGCS, has a message for anyone who will listen: “Find the opportunities that make you happy.”

Listen long enough to Davies, director of agronomy at TPC Stonebrae in Hayward, Calif., and you realize that it takes more than working on a golf course to make that happen. A lover of music, the Allman Brothers Band, Kansas and Charlie Daniels rank atop his chart. His passions also revolve around the motorcycles he has owned through the years — choppers that have carted him 325,000 miles throughout the country. When it comes to his personal life, Davies is unafraid to share that he has been divorced twice, yet his relationships have given him children and grandchildren that help keep this 62-year-old young.

In his professional world, Davies has experienced multiple successes, including being named an Environmental Leaders in Golf Awards national winner. He has served two terms as president of the GCSA of Northern California, been front and center for two new course constructions, and been part of GCSAA’s faculty for the Golf Industry Show for five years, delivering a presentation today titled “Turf/Life Balance: Overcoming Everyday Obstacles.”

Achieving that balance in life and at work hasn’t come easy. Still, Davies has thoughts on how to get there. “Time management, to me, is the key to how this balance works,” says Davies, a 30-year GCSAA member.

Balance isn’t exactly an easy feat nowadays for Davies, who is using a cane following one of the nine knee surgeries he has undergone. One life lesson that has served Davies well has been to teach his crew how to grow, delegate, and become so good that they can handle any situation if he is gone. Once, he took a three-week motorcycle trip during a time he deemed “crazy busy,” yet he knew he could rely on those he left behind in charge.

“It (his trip) doesn’t happen unless you have quality people working for you that are trained to take over so you don’t have to be there (at the course) 24/7,” he says.

What does Davies instill in his staff? “To be organized, dedicated, a good resource manager, a facilitator and a coach,” he says. “We are, in essence, training our replacements. If you don’t want to train your replacement, do it all (work) by yourself.”

Davies has reached a point in his life where he doesn’t feel the need to be the be-all, end-all. The approach has allowed him to be balanced and to cherish what he can do outside of his job, such as ride his motorcycle across the country, where he had a chance to help a World War II veteran who stormed Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, up to his feet for the Pledge of Allegiance and national anthem at an event.

In other words, do what you feel, because nobody else is going to do it for you.

“You are at the center of your own universe,” Davies says. “You have to take responsibility for your world.”

One of those tasks meant leaving work on a Friday afternoon to fly to a grandchild’s first birthday. Davies knew that when he departed, TPC Stonebrae was in good hands. That comfort — and enjoying that balance — makes him happy. And what should that accomplish? Well, it has a lot to do with having the balanced, happy life Davies wishes for everyone.

“Find something every day that puts a smile on your face,” he says.

Howard Richman is GCM’s associate editor.