This may be a familiar story to those who read the article back in the March issue of GCM about my upcoming year as GCSAA president (see “A man with a plan” on Page 38 of that issue), but I got my first taste of golf course management as a high school student, working during summer on the crew at Hillwood Country Club in Nashville, Tenn.
At the bottom of the maintenance department’s pecking order, I often drew the assignment of syringing the course’s bentgrass greens on weekend afternoons. Keeping those greens cool in the heat of the Tennessee summer was no easy task, but it usually paled in comparison to another, much more personal quest — keeping myself cool.
In an effort to accomplish the latter, I often spent breaks holed up in the office of the head superintendent, the only spot in the maintenance facility that was air-conditioned. Technically, I wasn’t supposed to be in there, but I always viewed it as in the realm of “no harm, no foul,” and the only thing I ever disturbed was the stack of GCMs on his desk, which I’d thumb through while cooling off.
I look back on my experience in Nashville as the true beginning of my career in this industry. The job at Hillwood opened my eyes to the possibility of a life as a superintendent, and reading those magazines illustrated what a big and complicated business I was stepping into, and just how much I still had to learn about it.
So, to continue that educational journey, I kept reading GCM. I became active in my local GCSAA chapter, eagerly consuming any education that was offered and seizing opportunities to network with fellow superintendents. And, perhaps most important, I became a regular attendee of the annual Golf Industry Show, taking in as many seminars as my schedule would allow.
Learning is a habit, and continuing education is as key to success for superintendents as it is for professionals in any other field. That’s why I still dive deep into each issue of GCM, why I’m still engaged with my local chapter, and why I wasted no time signing up to attend the 2018 Golf Industry Show — Feb. 3-8 in San Antonio — when registration opened last month.
Even though I’ve attended more Golf Industry Shows than I can remember, the annual event still stands as the highlight of my professional year. During my years of service on the national board of directors, my schedule at GIS has become more and more hectic, but that has done little to dampen my enthusiasm for the occasion. When up-and-coming turf managers ask me about the best way to advance their careers, attending GIS as often as possible remains my No. 1 piece of advice.
The learning at GIS comes in many forms. In San Antonio, there will, of course, be the traditional world-class educational offerings, with 97 seminars and 20 sessions on the docket covering every aspect of the golf course management industry, from agronomy to communications to business management to environmental sustainability. The trade show floor — more than 500 exhibitors strong — will present plenty of opportunities to educate yourself on the newest products and services available. And you won’t find a better venue for learning from your peers than GIS, whether that networking happens at the GCSAA Golf Championships or during the Closing Celebration.
Although my career in this industry is entering its fourth decade, my passion for learning remains as strong as it was when I was that high schooler paging through GCM for the very first time. I look forward to feeding that passion yet again at GIS in San Antonio, and I hope to see many of you there, doing the same.
Bill Maynard, CGCS, is the director of golf course maintenance operations at the Country Club of St. Albans (Mo.) and a 30-year member of GCSAA.