Lupe Ibanez finds the American dream as golf course superintendent
Ibanez named superintendent at Arizona's Superstition Mountain after long journey in life
Lawrence, Kan. (March 17, 2015) - The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) has about 17,500 members, but no one is more proud of being a member than Lupe Ibanez.
Ibanez, 52, became the golf course superintendent at Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club in Gold Canyon, Ariz., 25 minutes outside Phoenix, in October 2014, after 13 years as an assistant for Scott Krout, the director of agronomy. But Ibanez’s rise to become a GCSAA member in 2015 is more than a tale of hard work. It is a story of courage and his search to find a better life.
At age 17, Ibanez and two of his friends left their families in Oaxaca, a part of southern Mexico, to come to the United States. He didn’t have any idea what would happen. That was 1980.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” says Ibanez of his younger days when he learned English on his own, one word at a time. “I was just looking for a better life. I was chasing the American dream. Being away from my family was not easy. I was alone for five years, but now I am married and have three grown children. My life has been hard, but not impossible. To know where I came from, this life is a blessing.”
Ibanez first worked as a dishwasher. Later he poured concrete, and then got into landscaping, which led him to ask for a job on a golf course.
“I started in 1987 from the bottom up,” says Ibanez. “I was started as a temp at Desert Mountain’s Renegade Course picking up golf balls for three days. I was not sure I was going to get paid at first because it didn’t seem like work to me. But I ended up working there for 17 years.”
In 2002, Ibanez moved to Superstition Mountain as the second assistant superintendent. Now he is part of the American dream, having become the head superintendent and also a U.S. citizen.
“I am excited. I am happy,” says Ibanez. “I didn’t know it was going to happen (getting promoted), but I fell in love with this type of work a long time ago. I will work hard, and I will be consistent, honest and patient. Since I started, I have had the privilege to work with a lot of good superintendents.”
Krout says promoting Ibanez was a no-brainer, especially since they think so much alike.
“If I am not here, I want someone to make the same decisions I would make,” he says. “He is my field general, and I have 100 percent trust in him.”
About GCSAA and the EIFG
The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) is a leading golf organization in the United States. Its focus is on golf course management, and since 1926 GCSAA has been the top professional association for the men and women who manage golf courses in the U.S. and worldwide. From its headquarters in Lawrence, Kan., the association provides education, information and representation to nearly 18,000 members in more than 78 countries. The association’s mission is to serve its members, advance their profession and enhance the enjoyment, growth and vitality of the game of golf. Visit GCSAA at www.gcsaa.org or find us on Facebook or Twitter.
The Environmental Institute for Golf is the philanthropic organization of the GCSAA. Its mission is to foster sustainability through research, awareness, education, programs and scholarships for the benefit of golf course management professionals, golf facilities and the game. Visit EIFG at www.eifg.org or find us on Facebook or Twitter.