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2018 Annual Conference

2018 March/April Superintendent Spotlight
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Superintendent Spotlight

by Tim Taagen, Superintendent, Country Club of the Rockies  

It’s hard to fathom that I kicked off my maintenance career in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1980.  Although my true passion was to become an owner of a fish hatchery I soon realized that a master’s degree and low wages made me queasy so it was off to Penn State and an internship at August National as part of the plan; by 1985 I was ready to make my mark on the world with a 2-year degree in hand and nowhere to go but up.

After graduating I was able to con Dan Pierson into hiring me as an assistant at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Indiana; I must have been good for a few laughs and when Dan moved to Colorado that following autumn he asked me to join him as an assistant at Cherry Hills Country Club.  I had never been west of the Mississippi River and thought it sounded pretty cool and I liked the pictures I’d seen in countless books, besides, I needed a job and Dan was an awesome boss; Cherry Hills wasn’t half bad either.  After the summer of 1987, I somehow landed the superintendent’s gig at Green Gables Country Club in Lakewood, Colorado; I was 23 years old and hadn’t a clue how to grow grass.   Somehow I faked my way through it with the help of all the front-range superintendents until the spring of 1992 when I was struck by good fortune once again and moved to Edwards, Colorado and the new development of Cordillera.

Cordillera was never meant to be more than one golf course perched on the side of a beautiful mountain overlooking the back bowls of Vail; in the next 8 years that developer took me for the ride of my life and expanded to 4 courses within Cordillera, Catamount Ranch and Club in Steamboat, Mayacama in northern California, The Club at Crested Butte and Granby Ranch.  To say it was fun is the understatement of the century and being surrounded by such talented guys like Scott Todd, Glenn Samuelson, Lenny Kline, Pete Tescher, Steve Rau and countless assistants and interns made me look like a hero.  I spent 15 golf seasons with The Cordillera Group and decided it would be fun to try development; unfortunately I never developed into much of a developer but was lucky enough to take care of the Brightwater Club in Gypsum, Colorado while it navigated its way through bankruptcy and foreclosure.  It wasn’t a bad gig since I was working for the court appointed receiver, we weren’t open for play and I got to sit on a mower all day and ponder my next move.  In the spring of 2014 I was quite fortunate (again) and moved to Frost Creek (formerly Adam’s Mountain Country Club) in Eagle, Colorado where I spent the next 2 years; why I didn’t stay is something I will ponder forever but perhaps there was a reason I will never fully appreciate.

So in the spring of 2016, after 24 years in the Vail Valley, I thought it would be entertaining to uproot the whole family and move them to Carmel by the Sea, California; yep, the same hamlet where Clint Eastwood used to be mayor and take over the superintendent’s position for The Preserve at Santa Lucia.  Perhaps it was poor timing or a few too many libations but I soon came to the conclusion that I had made a colossal mistake; holy cow, we loved Colorado and all our friends were there and I don’t know how to surf.  So now what?  Nobody gets to move to Colorado twice in a lifetime, I was at one of the finest clubs in the United States and didn’t feel I was effective, I was humbled to say the least.  But then it happened again, for some reason I can’t explain I was offered my current position with the Country Club of the Rockies in Edwards, Colorado.  This past August, my extremely tolerant wife Deb and I moved back to the same street we lived on for 18 years accompanied by our teenage daughter Claire who will be attending UNC in Greeley this fall and our son Hans who is currently a junior in High School.

It truly is unbelievable to think that I have been a superintendent for over 30 years, the friends I have made and will soon make within this industry are lifelong and I wouldn’t be where I am without their guidance.  If you’re ever in the Vail area, winter or summer, swing on by and have a look around, the door is always open.

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