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Nathan Lasota grew up playing golf, and his uncle was a golf course superintendent.
So a career in the industry — specifically golf course maintenance — made sense, and by 2013, Lasota had earned an associate degree in golf course management. He kicked around a few golf facilities in Florida before landing as an assistant superintendent at a course in Naples. After about year there, around Thanksgiving 2018, he was let go.
“My fiancee, who’s a nurse, pushed me to try something different,” Lasota says. “She knows I’m interested in health care, so I just took a leap.”
Lasota went back to school, enrolling at Rasmussen College in what is typically an 18-month associate degree program. Because he had previously attended college, that time frame was trimmed to about 14 months, and he’s now about six months away from becoming a registered nurse. Lasota currently works at Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Sarasota, Fla., in a role similar to that of a certified nursing assistant.
And that’s how Lasota went, in the span of less than a year and a half, from tending greens to tending to people.
“Way back when I was a kid, I always wanted to get involved in health care,” Lasota says. “But I was so involved in golf, I never got to experience health care. I knew more about the golf industry than anything else. But it was always an interest of mine. Even on the golf course, after the countless hours we put in, seeing how people enjoyed what we did for them is what I enjoyed the most.”
Lasota describes his job at the hospital as “grunt work” — changing beds, making sure patients are cleaned and prepped for surgery. Sarasota Memorial has patients with COVID-19; the hospital announced a fifth death from the virus last week.
“I’m not going to say we’re like New York or New Jersey, but we do have patients with (COVID-19) in the hospital,” Lasota says. “We are struggling with supplies. We are definitely having a shortage of masks, and now ventilators. We have about 30 or so patients who do have COVID-19. It is taking its toll in that regard. There’s a lot of prep time now, trying to train nurses to deal with these patients, and my fiancee has taken care of two of them. While it is difficult, I don’t want to say we’re getting to the level of New York or New Jersey yet.”
After completing his associate degree, Lasota plans to get a bachelor’s in nursing and, ultimately, a master’s in health care administration. His end goal is to become a CNO, or chief nursing officer.
“It’s more of a corporate-type of role,” Lasota says. “I think being in the golf course industry has prepared me to do that on the nursing side, with my experience managing people.”
Lasota, who had been a member of GCSAA for two years when he left the industry, recalls his days in golf course maintenance fondly. He stays in touch with acquaintances from that period of his life and still follows online forums dedicated to the trade.
To one website, he posted his thanks to those in the golf industry who have donated supplies to their local hospitals.
“I haven’t seen it personally, but I have seen numerous posts from guys who have gone to hospitals to drop off things like N95 masks or even Tyvek suits, trying to make it safer for those who have to work with this,” Lasota says. “Seeing guys take the time out from the golf course to drop off those supplies is a great thing. I just wanted to say thanks to them, to let them know it’s appreciated.”
Lasota says he last played golf just a couple of days before Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis issued a statewide stay-at-home order on April 1.
“It will be interesting to see how golf courses deal with it,” Lasota says of the order.
While he doesn’t regret his career pivot, Lasota says he does miss working in the golf industry.
“What I miss most is being on your golf course late in the day,” he says, “after all your hard work, watching the sun set on your golf course. That’s what I miss the most.”
Andrew Hartsock is GCM’s managing editor.