Our below member spotlights are from our latest issue of Thru the Green.
Affiliate Profile: James Martin, Martin’s Irrigation Supply
By GAVIN DICKSON, Superintendent, Tehama Golf Club
Superintendents have a lot of challenges that we face daily. Thanks to our affiliates, who can help with support, advice, and knowledge, things are a little easier. For this issue, we interviewed James Martin, with Martin’s Irrigation.
GD: What brought you into the irrigation industry?
JM: My dad opened the shop in 1976, and I have been working here since 1986, when I was a junior in high school, and never left.
GD: How many golf courses does Martin’s Irrigation work with?
JM: We work with all the local golf courses in Monterey County.
GD: What common issues do you see that superintendents have to deal with daily?
JM: Broken mainlines and drainage issues.
GD: What advice have you given to a struggling superintendent who deals with an old irrigation system?
JM: Do the best you can and keep up the maintenance on what is in the ground. The longer you let it sit, the worse it is going to be to repair it.
GD: What is the hot item everyone must have when they stop in at your store?
JM: Slip fixes and Romac couplers.
GD: Irrigation has come a long way over the years, what do you see 20-30 years down the road?
JM:: Well, we have gone from conventional wire to 2-wire systems, so I see the next wave as wireless sprinklers and valves that go into the cloud for programming so no controllers are needed.
GD: What is the greatest part of your job?
JM: Working on designs and solving problems that my customers bring me daily.
GD: Outside of work, what activities do you enjoy?
JM: Spending time with my twin grand daughters, golf, DIY projects around the house, and watching college football.
GD: What is your beverage of choice?
JM: Jack Daniels Tennessee Rye.
GD: Where is one place in the world you would love to visit?
JM: I would love to visit Marettimo, a little island off of Italy where my Grandfather is from.
GD: Who is your favorite artist/band?
JM: Any rock band from the 80’s works for me.
Assistant Superintendent Profile: Patrick Tuttle, Palo Alto Hills Golf & Country Club
By ERIC GREEN, Assistant Superintendent, Poppy Hills Golf Club
It’s always great to showcase some of the up and coming talent in our industry. Northern California has some of the richest history in golf, with great courses and hardworking crews that keep them in exceptional condition. For this issue, we interviewed Patrick Tuttle, Assistant Superintendent at Palo Alto Hills Golf and Country Club in Palo Alto, CA.
EG: What made you decide to get into golf maintenance?
PT: I have many reasons why I decided to get into golf maintenance. To begin, I grew up on a two acre property in Morgan Hill. The property included nearly an acre of turf that my father, brothers and I maintained. At the age of 14, my family moved to a house right across the street from San Jose Country Club. With my parents being members, I was able to take up the game and my competitive spirit took over. I began to play every day. From then on, my dad always encouraged me to get into the industry. After I graduated from UCSB, I started working in golf course maintenance and fell in love.
EG: What is your proudest accomplishment in the industry?
PT: My proudest accomplishments include getting accepted into the Masters Program at Penn State. I am also very proud to have won over and gained the respect of the crew at Palo Alto Hills.
EG: Who would you consider your most influential mentor in the industry?
PT: Andrew Morgan and John Smurthwaite have been my most influential mentors in the industry so far. They have taught me all there is to know about turf grass management and keeping the membership happy with an outstanding daily product.
EG: Where did you grow up?
PT: I grew up in San Jose, California and spent much of my early childhood in Morgan Hill.
EG: Your best Nicknames?
PT: Ptutti, Patricio, and my current nickname from Andrew Morgan, P Funk.
EG: If you could drive any vehicle, what would it be?
PT: 1965 ford mustang convertible.
EG: Curly fries or regular, and why?
PT: Probably curly fries, but you can’t go wrong either way.
EG: What is the funniest thing you have ever seen on a golf course?
PT: I always get a good laugh when the members ask something funny or do something silly on the golf cart (as long as it isn’t harmful to the turf.)
EG: What is one thing that most people don’t know about you?
PT: I am the eighth oldest out of twelve children in my family. Before I began working in golf maintenance I had the privilege of working for the Golden State Warriors. We won two NBA Finals in consecutive years while I was working with them.
EG: What was your lowest score playing golf, and where?
PT: I shot a 69 at both Silver Creek Country Club and Spring Valley Golf Course.
EG: What is your favorite manual labor job on the golf course, and why?
PT: There is nothing like changing the course up on a day to day basis, giving it some variety. It makes it necessary to hit a variety of different golf shots and tests all levels of golfers.
EG: Greatest piece of advice anyone has given you?
PT: Everyone makes mistakes and you will too. Learn from your mistakes, take responsibility, and do your best not to feel too bad about them. Make sure the people around you know that you care. Golf course maintenance requires teamwork, and if one person is falling behind, help them out or we all fall behind. Teamwork is what makes the dream work.
EG: If you had to survive on a deserted island for 1 year, aside from food and water, what 5 items would you bring with you to occupy your time?
PT: My seven iron, a golf ball, my wife, my daughter, and sour patch kids.
EG: Favorite Beer?
PT: I eat Mexican food on a fair occasion; you can never go wrong with a cold Modelo.
EG: If you had your choice, what would you do in retirement?
PT: Travel the world and play amazing golf courses.
EG: Favorite sports teams?
PT: Giants, Warriors, Niners, Sharks, and once in a while the A’s and Raiders. I’m pretty lucky to be from the Bay Area and to have the ability to watch and root for these awesome sports teams.
EG: What’s your favorite type of grass to manage as a putting surface and why?
PT: Bentgrass putting greens are my preference because, when right, they consistently provide lightning fast putting surfaces.
EG: If you could have lunch with anyone, past or present, who would it be and why?
PT: It would be fun to have lunch with Bobby Jones. He seemed like quite the competitor, with an abundance of love for the game of golf.
EG: What is your favorite golf maintenance related quote?
PT: “Never be in a rush to mess things up” and “We are all human; the grass will grow back.”
Getting to Know Steven Spatafore
Steven Spatafore was recently named Golf Course Superintendent at Contra Costa Country Club. Steven is a past recipient of the Clifford and Myrtle Wagoner Scholarship, fresh out of school, and on his way to great things. Let’s get to know Steven Spatafore.
Congratulations on the new job! How did you end up celebrating your first Superintendent job, and who is the first person you called and told?
There wasn’t a lot of celebrating at first. I was not expecting this opportunity so soon. There was a day of “Oh my god” and a slight feeling of terror. Once reality set in, I called my family and mentors, thanked them for their help getting to this point and thanked them for the help they will be providing in the future.
Talk about the path it took to get to where you are at today?
In 2008, my father and I went to the AT&T Pro-Am. We were there early enough Sunday to see the maintenance staff preparing a green. I met Billy Hausch, who explained what they were doing. Over the next summer, Billy took us out for a round and in an effort to repay the favor, my father and I asked if we could volunteer on the maintenance staff. He had me in bunkers for the next tournament and I knew at the age of 13 what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. (You can read an article that was written in GCI leading up to the 2019 US Open)
Going from Assistant at one course to Superintendent at another course is a challenge, but going from Assistant to Superintendent at the same course has a unique set of challenges as well? What thoughts do you have regarding your crew and your transition?
The transition has gone really well with the staff. A mentor had previously told me that you must make friends and earn the crew’s respect before you can lead them. I had done just that over the last 17 months as the Assistant, and since getting the job I’ve heard that some staff recommended me to members and the GM.
You have also had to replace a Superintendent in Ryan Maher who was very well respected at the club. Talk about that.
Ryan has left behind some very big shoes to fill. Luckily, Ryan and I were on the same page for nearly every matter pertaining to the course, and I can build upon the programs we developed in unison.
You have been with Troon for a couple of years now. What kind of resources do they have to help you succeed?
I am fortunate to have Jeff Spangler as our Troon agronomist. He will be out quarterly over the next year. Because we are in the middle of some projects, I can rely on them to help with the construction contracts and protocols.
What is first on your to-do list, and does Contra Costa have any big plans over the next three years?
Contra Costa wants to be predominantly rye grass and bent. Some of our warm season grasses have gotten larger than what we want, so we are in the middle of a rough renovation. Ten days into my time as Superintendent, we sprayed Pylex and Drive to tackle the warm season grasses.
Over the next few years we are looking to complete the last 5-10% of renovation work that was not completed in 2015. That includes the driving range, irrigation upgrades, and bunker work.
Changing gears, in an effort to get to know you better, what do you like to do outside of golf?
I love to golf with my father. My father could not be happier with my career path since we have gotten to play at some really special places. I like to travel with my fiancé, Courtney, and I have really gotten into road cycling.
Since you mentioned your fiancé, when are you getting married?
Our wedding date was Oct. 10th, but we postponed due to COVID. We changed plans and were going to do something with just our parents, but this opportunity came about, and I do not have an assistant yet. So, the wedding is in limbo at the moment.
I did not think about it, but I guess you have to replace yourself. What traits are you looking for in an Assistant?
They need to be a go-getter and have a natural curiosity about why things are the way they are. We are extending an offer now and should have someone in place before Thanksgiving.
Did you pick up any new hobbies since COVID?
Unfortunately, there was no time for that. Contra Costa County deemed Ryan Maher and me as the only essential employees. We worked 12 hour days by ourselves for 5 weeks.
If a guy calls in sick and you have your choice of jobs to fill in for, what are you choosing and which job are you avoiding?
For some reason, I find cutting the caddy walks and intermediate cuts enjoyable. If I had to say there is something I don’t like, I’d say it’s checking and adjusting bunker depths or fixing bunkers after a washout.
When you call up Tim Powers for advice (highly recommended!) and he answers with “19th Hole,” what are you asking for (favorite drink)?
Either a vodka press (vodka and Sprite) or a glass of white wine.
Congratulations on the new gig and best wishes; I look forward to watching your career grow!