Written by Guy Cipriano
Dan Francis experienced one of the biggest honors in turf 10 months after landing a job he worked 14 years to receive.
Francis entertained his peers during a fast-paced Wednesday afternoon session at the Ohio Turfgrass Foundation Conference & Show. The 15-minute presentation represented Francis’ first industry speaking opportunity since landing his first head golf course superintendent job at Wildwood Golf Club in Middletown.
Wildwood named Francis its superintendent Feb. 6.
Wearing a white sports jacket and enthusiastically strolling the Greater Columbus Convention Center, Francis exchanged business cards with seemingly everybody he encountered on the show floor. His euphoria extended to the podium as he delivered a positive message. “I like to keep it light-hearted, have a little bit of fun,” he says.
Neither a small crew nor modest maintenance budget prevented Francis from experiencing a successful first season at Wildwood. Frequent high fives, with co-workers and even members, are one of his management staples.
Chris Anderson and Greg Caldwell also understand the fortitude and perspective needed to overcome challenges. Anderson and Caldwell are the assistant superintendents on The Old White TPC at The Greenbrier, the historic West Virginia resort whose golf grounds were destroyed by a devastating flood in 2016. Speaking at a major industry event for the first time, the pair revealed the extent of the damage before sharing The Greenbrier’s inspirational recovery story. The OTF Conference & Show represented a homecoming for Anderson, an Ohio native and former assistant superintendent at Heritage Golf Club in Hilliard.
Muirfield Village Golf Club director of grounds operations Chad Mark, Wedgewood Golf and Country Club assistant superintendent Matt Neff and Michigan State sports turf manager Amy Fouty were among the other presenters who exuded positivity Wednesday. “The fun part of our business is that it’s like a team,” says Mark, a former high school basketball coach who received his dream job at Muirfield Village earlier this year.
Teams require support staffs, and the trade show portion of the OTF Conference & Show concluded with four hours of floor banter between attendees and industry partners.