Walking the talk as a golf course superintendent

A superintendent outlines different paths to becoming more involved in the industry and how such opportunities lead to personal growth and a more rewarding professional journey.


2018 National Golf Day
The path Marc Weston, CGCS, (left) has traveled throughout his career in the golf course management industry has included several memorable stops, among them this one in Washington, D.C., for National Golf Day in 2018. Weston is pictured with U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney of Connecticut (center) and Scott Ramsay, CGCS. Photos courtesy of Marc Weston

Editor’s note: A version of this article appeared in the December 2018 issue of Connecticut Clippings, the newsletter of the Connecticut Association of Golf Course Superintendents.

In Connecticut, history and its lessons seem to lie around every corner.

One famous former Connecticut resident — the late author Mark Twain — is frequently (though likely erroneously) credited with having said, “Golf is a good walk spoiled.” While I do not agree that the great game of golf spoils anything, I do take to heart the value of simply walking, talking and learning with others.

My own journey of networking, serving and growing in our industry has led to my current role as president of the Connecticut Association of Golf Course Superintendents. It’s difficult to believe that I am already more than midway through my two-year term. During this time, I have done my best to take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself to “take a good walk” — without hitting a single shot.

Through the following examples, I hope to inspire all GCSAA members to do the same, in ways — at the local, state or national level — that are personally meaningful.

A walk as a delegate

My first “walk” in my role as CAGCS president was in November 2017, when I represented our association at the GCSAA Chapter Delegates Meeting in Lawrence, Kan. Walking in the shoes of a delegate with many peers from across the country, I learned firsthand that GCSAA is truly a member association.

As a delegate, I thought I was going to learn about the candidates for the GCSAA Board of Directors — who they were and why we should vote for them. But the experience was so much more than that. This meeting is a gathering of all chapter representatives, where we obtain information about GCSAA, meet our leadership, network with other association leaders, and celebrate the accomplishments of the association’s 99 chapters.

I was honored to attend again in November 2018, and I gained so much from the focused discussions around growing the GCSAA membership.

A walk at the Golf Industry Show

In February 2018, I walked around San Antonio at the Golf Industry Show. There, I experienced a first in my career: giving a presentation about “Networking Differently” during the Lightning Round Learning! session. My key message was that, as superintendents, we know we are expected to provide excellent and fun playing conditions — despite the weather and other challenges — but there is so much more that we can do to add value to our clubs.

At GIS, my colleagues and I volunteered to grade essays by university student teams participating in the GCSAA Collegiate Turf Bowl, which featured more than 70 teams from around the country. This was a great opportunity to give back and be part of supporting these students and crowning the champion.

I eagerly returned to GIS 2019 in San Diego, where I reconnected with my peers and participated in networking events for association presidents and Grassroots Ambassadors.

A walk at Augusta National

In spring of 2018, I took a flight down south with some of my good friends and fellow CAGCS board members. As Class A superintendents, we were able to take advantage of complimentary admission to the Masters. I encourage all Class A members — including Class A Retired and AA Life — to explore this amazing opportunity.

Masters golf course superintendents
A trip to the Masters in 2018. Weston (far right) is with fellow superintendents (from left) Rich Duggan, Kevin Collins and Scott Ramsay, CGCS.

We were able to take a three-day, 26.1-mile walk around the grounds of Augusta National Golf Club. Even over three days, I could barely complete a marathon, but I did successfully try every item from the legendary affordable Augusta concessions. (It seems like everything costs $2 down there. I wasn’t a fan of the pimento cheese sandwich, but the Georgia peach ice cream sandwiches are life-changing.)

Walking around and seeing the elevation changes of the property, the contours and the undulations of the greens is certainly something best experienced in person. But if I can share a little advice, don’t walk up the 10th fairway from green to tee at the end of the day.

A walk in D.C.

Later that April, my great friend and mentor Scott Ramsay, CGCS, (superintendent at The Course at Yale) and I attended National Golf Day in Washington, D.C., along with more than 100 GCSAA members.

The event kicked off with a group service project at the National Mall, and my walk took me to just outside the Capitol Building to work on the aerification and seeding team. The next day, meetings had been arranged for us on Capitol Hill with all the elected representatives and senators from Connecticut.

Scott and I were able to promote the environmental benefits of maintained open spaces. We shared that golf has a $1.1 billion economic impact to our state, employs 12,000 people, and raises over $30 million for charity each year.

This experience means so much to me and our industry that I attended National Golf Day again this past May. This year, we had more representation from Connecticut (a group of five participants) and completed another service project along with more than 200 GCSAA volunteers. A highlight for me was continuing to build relationships with professionals from our industry to Capitol Hill.

A walk as a volunteer

I take another memorable walk each June, when I am able to volunteer at the Travelers Championship on the PGA Tour, hosted by TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Conn.

One evening, Scott and I were tasked with a walk-mow double-cut of the back-side greens. This was an absolute treat for me, not only because I spent five seasons at River Highlands earlier in my career, but even more so because I had another chance to take a great walk with a friend.

The opportunity to volunteer at the Travelers Championship is open to all GCSAA members. It is a great way to get involved, network and gain valuable PGA Tour tournament experience.

Your own path

Over the course of one year, I have taken walks everywhere from the Golf Industry Show in Texas and San Diego to GCSAA headquarters in Kansas to the halls of our capital in Washington, D.C., to the greens for the Travelers Championship in Connecticut.

Connecticut golf course superintendents
The Connecticut Association of Golf Course Superintendents executive board (from left): Paul Bonini, CGCS, treasurer; Peter Gorman, vice president; Steve Curry, secretary; Marc Weston, CGCS, president; and Eric Morrison, CGCS, past president.

I have also represented CAGCS at board meetings for First Tee of Connecticut and the Connecticut State Golf Association. I have tried to make the most of every opportunity that golf and serving our industry can offer without “spoiling” the walk.

These stories were not intended simply to share my travels, but more to show how many ways there are to get involved in committee work, networking events and volunteering at the local level and beyond.

In that spirit, I encourage you to take your own walks. Regardless of which path you choose, as long as you are reaching out and connecting, I guarantee you will be incredibly thankful you did and will benefit in ways you couldn’t have imagined.

Marc Weston, CGCS, is president of the Connecticut Association of Golf Course Superintendents and has been superintendent at Indian Hill Country Club in Newington, Conn., for 15 years. Weston also serves on the GCSAA Certification Committee, is a GCSAA Grassroots Ambassador, and is a First Tee of Connecticut board member. He is a 21-year association member.