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11/4/2018 » 11/6/2018
2018 Annual Conference

2018 March/April Director's Corner
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You Never Know Where You Might End Up

by Chris Lewis, General Manager/ Regional Superintendent, Broadlands Golf Course 

Becoming a Director for the Rocky Mountain Golf Course Superintendents Association this year has been a very rewarding opportunity. I am looking forward to the next two years with the Association, and I am excited to see where this opportunity takes me with my career.

When I started my golf course career back in 2000 as an intern at Cherry Hills Country Club, I had dreams of being the next great superintendent. I had the goals to be a Certified Golf Course Superintendent and be overseeing a high-end club that hosts a tour event by the time I turned 30. Almost eighteen years later, my career is still on track but my path to get there has changed. I still think hosting a tour event would be a great challenge, but it is no longer high on my priority list. I was able to achieve my Certification, but it was 8 years later than I had originally planned. 

During the Certification process I was presented with an opportunity to become a Regional Golf Course Superintendent. When I first became a superintendent the thought of becoming a Regional Superintendent wasn’t on my radar, but the opportunity was presented to me, and it has been the best thing that has happened to my career. The Regional Superintendent position has me traveling the Rocky Mountain region, working with other superintendents within Landscapes Unlimited, has been a challenging and yet rewarding career path.

The next step in my career that I didn’t see coming was the opportunity to become a General Manager. If you had asked me even 1 year ago would I ever be interested in becoming a General Manager at a golf course, I would have said you are crazy. I probably would have said there is no chance that I want to sit in the clubhouse to fold shirts, and practice my chip shots all day. While preparing my entire career to grow grass, spending my time outside, with an irrigation radio in my hand and my dog by my side. But after a lot of self-reflection, and deciding what would prepare me more for my future career goals, I looked at the General Manager position as an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. I have always had my own ideas on how golf course operations could be run better, being in charge of the entire facility is a very challenging and gratifying feeling. 

With the high demand from across the country to become a superintendent in the Rocky Mountain region, and some job openings having more than 80 applicants of very qualified people, it seems like your odds to win the lotto are better than the odds of landing that dream job. The term of ‘career assistant’ has been popping up everywhere you look. If you don’t want to be at the same position you are currently in for the rest of your career, you should be open to the idea of other options available to you. Taking another path to get to your goals can be very satisfying, and prepare you even more for that dream job. Would you be a more qualified candidate if you became a mechanic for a couple of years rather than sitting in the same job? Or would you be more attractive to a future employer if you spent a couple of seasons in the operations side of the industry?

During the last 18 years of my career, I have seen many very good superintendents and assistants change direction with their career, still ending up where they wanted to be in the end. I can see a future where more superintendents make the move to the clubhouse because of their organizational, team building, delegation, and planning abilities. 

The only advice I can give you when you are looking to further your career is to keep an open mind on what options are available to you in this great industry. While most people have followed the straight career ladder, and have had very successful careers, I know some of you will have to explore other ways to the top. Make sure you keep an open mind to every opportunity that comes your way, and you never know, one day we might be exchanging techniques on how to fold shirts!


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