Wednesday, December 9, 2015
I first met Tyler McCool after I started at Mississippi State in fall of 2011 when he was assigned to be my “Turf Buddy”, an idea proposed by legendary professor Dr. Barry Stewart that paired new students with upperclassmen to help introduce them to the turfgrass management world. I met Stephen Miles while working the 2013 USGA Mid-Amateur Championship at the Country Club of Birmingham, and later met Jeremy Stevens at the 2013 Mississippi Turfgrass Association social event in Starkville. As faith would have it I ended up working under all of them during the summer and fall of 2015 while on my eight month internship at The Preserve Golf Club.
I interviewed with Stephen during the MTA Internship Interview Extravaganza during November of 2014. A few weeks later a phone call by Stephen let me know I was a wanted man. Getting the chance to work at The Preserve put me in an elite group of MSU greats that include Alex Marshall, Keair Edwards, and The Preserve’s own Tyler McCool. Living in the Biloxi area for eight months was also a big selling point on my internship decision. I moved to the coast on May 16th and began work on May 18th.
My Preserve experience got off to a rocky start when I forgot my Social Security card to use as a form of identification to go with my pre-hire paperwork, and also, due to a still unknown injury to my big toe, I was barely able to walk. The week progressively got better as the swelling in my toe steadily decreased. The first few weeks at The Preserve was a lot of grunt work: walk mowing greens, raking bunkers, flymowing, buffalo blowing, and I’m pretty sure I pushed a fertilizer spreader about 800 miles. As the summer went on I had the opportunity to operate more and more equipment: tractors, triplex, fairway mowers, etc. I found a strong interest in mowing the step-cut and back lawn once or twice a week ;however, the older model triplex did not come with a cup holder, so I had to make one with cardboard and duct tape. By the end of the summer I had operated every piece of golf course maintenance equipment.
For a short time my internship settled into an uninteresting weekly routine of mowing, spraying greens, and topdressing. Around the second week of September we began preparing for a busy couple of weeks in October with the coming of Golfweek writers, a golf course photographer, and the Deep South Turf Expo golf outing. I was assigned to help re-sod a struggling tee-box known to hold water and have shade issues when I suggested the idea of just renovating it entirely. A small discussion by the people in charge later and we began ripping up the old sod. I got to experience firsthand all the steps to tee-box renovation, which was a great experience for me. In addition to this project, I had the opportunity to do things like collect soil samples for testing, aerification, fertilization, pesticide application, and irrigation repair. There were also days where I was left in charge to make the schedule and run the crew, which was a good management experience. I also became the last Preserve intern to ever be tortured via Nemacure application. In addition, I got hands-on experience working with the Precision Air system under our greens.
Working at The Preserve was a hard but fun learning experience. I believe having fun at work is the main component to work satisfaction, even if having fun is just joking about the idiotic things your coworkers do or say. I can honestly say that the crew members at The Preserve are the absolute best crew I have ever worked with. Not only was I able to learn under the direction of Tyler, Jeremy, and Stephen, but I learned valuable lessons from easygoing spray tech and set-up expert Keith, hole digging and sod laying specialist Enano, the top rated hoseman in the nation Pipi, and even more from the rest of the crew.
Now that my internship is over I will return to Starkville to work on my Master's degree in Turf Management. I look forward to keeping in touch with my former coworkers, and I want to thank Stephen, Jeremy, and Tyler for giving me the opportunity to complete my internship at The Preserve.
Written by Ethan Flournoy