My career in this crazy business started on the offensive line of the Lawrence High School football team in 1979.
Believe it or not, I was an undersized left guard on a team that dramatically exceeded expectations and won the Kansas state football championship in a massive upset my senior year. The right guard on that team — who was vastly better at all aspects of football than me — was a guy named Chuck. We’ll come back to him in a minute.
I graduated from high school, meandered through college at KU and decided to try law school. I quit after two years because I hated the soul-crushing idea of practicing corporate law in some giant glass tower. I putzed around at a local television station in Topeka for a couple of years and did a little bit of PR work. I had a vague idea of becoming a writer but no clue how to get started or where to find a job.
Then I remembered Chuck, my football buddy. I dimly recalled that his dad was involved with some weird group in Lawrence that had something to do with golf. Did they publish a magazine? Without any more information than that, I gave them a call. By sheer dumb luck, they did publish a magazine and they needed a writer. I had zero knowledge of golf, agronomy or turf but my journalism degree and willingness to work dirt cheap qualified me for the position. A week later, I started work at GCSAA as a cub reporter.
(Did I mention that my friend Chuck’s last name was Maples? And that his dad’s name was Palmer? Yup…I got my start in this business thanks — indirectly — to the legendary Georgia superintendent and Hall of Famer Palmer Maples who ran the education department at the national back then.)
That happy accident took place 29 years ago this month.
Thus, I begin my 30th year of working — if you can call what I do “work” — in this fabulous, amazing, wonderful fraternity known as the golf industry.
Got a strong opinion about an industry issue? Make your case. Want to tell a story about your awesome crew? Write it up! Are you optimistic about the future? Tell us why. Did you have a mentor who changed your life? Profile them. Striving for work/life balance? We want to hear about it.”
I really have no clue how many columns and articles I’ve written in three decades. More than a thousand probably. I’ve spewed out a lot of words. I’ll sometimes come across something I wrote back in my drinking days and have no recollection of writing it. I’ve been sober seven years now and I still sometimes catch myself using the same phrase or idea I used way back when.
So, as I pondered what I should do for my 30th anniversary, it occurred to me that instead of writing another column (and probably repeating myself), I should take a month off. In fact, the entire GCI staff is going to take the month of December off.
We’re going to turn the December issue over to you.
That’s right, we’re inviting you and our other 25,000 or so readers to become writers for our December “Turfheads Take Over” issue. Got a strong opinion about an industry issue? Make your case. Want to tell a story about your awesome crew? Write it up! Are you optimistic about the future? Tell us why. Did you have a mentor who changed your life? Profile them. Striving for work/life balance? We want to hear about it.
The only rules are keep it short (around 750-800 words) and keep it constructive. We’d prefer first-person opinion columns from superintendents or assistant superintendents, but all turfheads matter so we welcome any submission from anyone in the short-grass business. The deadline is Oct. 15 and submissions (with applicable photos) can be emailed to associate editor Guy Cipriano at email@example.com.
We’ll publish the best of them in our December issue and share what we don’t have room for on our website and social media.
I’m looking forward to reading what you think … and to enjoying my 30th-anniversary break.