Inside the Toro Experience for Assistant Superintendents

Kenton Brunson, the assistant superintendent at Desert Mountain Club, shares insights from his time in Minneapolis at this inaugural professional development event.


Attendees at the Toro Experience for Assistant Superintendents heard from some of the leading figures in the game in addition to taking part in several roundtable discussions. Photo by Scott Hollister

Editor's note: The following is a first-person recap of The Toro Co.'s Experience for Assistant Superintendents, a professional development and networking event that took place in Minneapolis Aug. 13-16. Among the participants was the author of this piece, Kenton Brunson, who is an assistant superintendent at Desert Mountain Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., and a one-year GCSAA member. For more on this event, see the October issue of GCM. 

I originally found out about the Toro Experience for Assistant Superintendents through Twitter. After doing some additional research on it, I approached our director of agronomy, Shawn Emerson, asking if he could nominate me for the program.

Since this was the inaugural event, I was unsure of exactly what was going to happen throughout the program. Some of my goals for the event were to have the ability to network with industry leaders along with Toro representatives and to gather information on the future of the industry and where we are heading.

The event ended up exceeding all of my goals. I was able to develop relationships with some of the top assistants in the country, along with being able to receive professional advice from industry leaders such as Mark Kuhns, CGCS, from Baltusrol Golf Club, Chris Tritabaugh from Hazeltine National, Billy Bagwell from Callawassie Island, and GCSAA CEO Rhett Evans.

Topics throughout the program included communications, team-building, technology, and leadership. Also, Toro was able to demonstrate their passion for continuous development, not only for their relationships with superintendents but also as it relates to their products and technologies. Assistants were able to share their thoughts on what is necessary to advance the industry to the next level.

My favorite discussion throughout the program came from Chris Tritabaugh. His message was to continuously create a culture that has staff excited to be at work every day. At Hazeltine, Chris has created this mentality, one that is multi-functional which generates an environment where every member of his staff holds each other accountable. Once adapted, his staff is able to make decisions on what needs to be accomplished that day, something that is empowering to staff and was personally inspiring to me.

I would highly encourage all assistants wanting to pursue a high level of advancement in this industry to pursue events such as the Toro Experience for Assistant Superintendents, events that help build the necessary skills you need to be successful in your career. Also, I would highly recommend involvement with your local GCSAA chapter or the national association as a way to further your education and help to continue to grow the game of golf. Throughout tour time in Minneapolis, the value of being active and getting involved was reinforced by the presenters and the other attendees, and I've certainly experienced that in my own career.