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Ralph Dain

Florida regional representative

Ralph is a former superintendent and has been the Florida regional representative since 2008. He resides in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Tel. 800-472-7878, ext. 3607

Field staff report

Palm Beach Chapter Meeting Provides Many Insights

by Ralph Dain | Mar 31, 2021

As I sit here staring at this blank page, I have a million thoughts going through my head but am finding it difficult to sort them out in a meaningful fashion. I am trying to find something that will make sense to the reader!

So, here we go...

Recently, I participated in a virtual meeting for the assistant superintendents of the Palm Beach chapter. I was an opening act along with Jeffrey Klontz from the Country Club of Florida. Darren Davis, CGCS at Olde Florida Golf Club, and 82nd president of GCSAA was the headliner.

Jeff and I tag-teamed a brief presentation on GCSAA programs that are designed specifically to encourage assistant superintendents to reach their career ambitions. I promoted the EXCEL Future Leaders Program and encouraged the attendees to apply for this enriching opportunity funded by Nufarm with oversight provided by The Environmental Institute for Golf. Although it is not a GCSAA program, but one that we fully support, I also discussed The Green Start Academy as another opportunity for assistants to pursue. This collaboration between John Deere and Bayer Environmental Sciences also provides outstanding interaction with industry leaders and peer to peer communications.

I only briefly covered the GCSAA Assistant Superintendent Certificate Series Program, as Jeff has recently completed all four certificates and he shared his experiences with the endeavor. Jeff provided a great overview of the program and outlined the time requirements of the individual certificates. He noted that the first two certificates were not as difficult as the last two and that they could be completed in less time. He advised the group to allow for a bit more time on the last two certificates as there are 14 videos to watch and they take some time to get through. Jeff did go on to say that the information in the videos was impactful and believed will benefit him as he moves along in his career.

Both Jeff and I are hopeful that those in attendance took away from our part of the webinar that there are certainly a number of ways for assistant superintendents to distinguish themselves from the masses when it comes time to pursue that next goal in their career ladder, becoming a superintendent.

We yielded the presentation to the headliner and Darren did a masterful job of relaying the importance of professionalism and the steps that those in attendance should take to ensure they reach their career goals. As a Past President of GCSAA, the Florida GCSA, Florida Turfgrass Association, Everglades GCSA, and a 31-year member of the GCSAA, Darren certainly has the credentials to offer his guidance and the group definitely benefitted from his advice. As a matter of fact, even I picked up several nuggets that motivated me. His words resonated and is probably why I am writing this blog today.

Darren told a number of personal stories that really helped drive home the message he was delivering. I am a huge believer in mentoring and Darren delivered a strong message that reinforced how important mentoring was for him as a student at Penn State. He told a story of an interaction he had with Frank Dobie, long time superintendent at Sharon Country Club. When he met Mr. Dobie for the first time, Darren admitted to being a bit awkward when he was asked, “what do you want to do?” As he searched for his response, Mr. Dobie relayed to Darren, “you are the author of your own destiny!” It was a message that Darren took to heart. Several years ago, I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Dobie with Darren at Olde Florida Golf Club, and it was evident that he remained a mentor to Darren through his career.

Darren Davis, CGCS, at work at Olde Florida Golf Club

We all have that someone in either our personal or professional life that has helped us get to where we are today and will most likely inspire us to reach the goals that we have yet to attain. I have several individuals that I consider mentors and still call upon them for their insights when needed. It is imperative that we all help lift the future leaders of our industry up to meet the needs of tomorrow and help them achieve their ambitions. In the same way we benefitted from the wisdom of those that treaded before us, it is my hope those that are waiting in the wing will adopt this mentality and assist those who will follow in their footsteps.

Darren provided so many relatable messages that I am finding it difficult to summarize everything. He touched on the need to maintain your professionalism at all times as you not only represent yourself but also the facility that employs you. Integrity when submitting a resume and in the interviewing process and in daily life will distinguish you as a conscientious individual. Your presence on social media is an area where you need to be particularly discerning in what you post and even who you follow. People will look into your social media accounts and if you don’t use the “mother filter,” you could lose potential opportunities.

Darren pointed this out and I wholeheartedly concur, even though assistant superintendents are waiting longer to become superintendents because superintendents are staying longer in their roles, we believe that in the next few years there are going to be a number of opportunities — great opportunities  for assistants to move up as individuals begin retiring from a number of high-profile facilities. I think the next few years may resemble the period when I entered into the profession during the building boom and jobs were plentiful.

With that being said, when the occasion presents itself to participate in a chapter educational session like the one provided by the Palm Beach chapter, it would definitely be beneficial to take it in. Now is the time to soak up all that you can to help promote yourself when trying to attain that next goal you have set. I will close with another quote that Darren shared. It is one that I firmly believe in. As Zig Ziglar stated, “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude." Stay positive as you move through life and good things will happen for you and remember, as Darren reminded, on occasion it is necessary to “toot your own horn”!


  • Jorge M Arreola, Class C, Vero Beach
  • Henry F Eluett Jr, Class EM, Boca Raton
  • Michael H Jamison, Class C, Panama City Beach
  • Kevin W Kouba, Class C, Ponte Vedra Beach
  • Phillip Martin, Class C, Lake Worth
  • Joe E McKenney, Class C, Fort Myers
  • Christopher W Rickets, Class EM, Destin
  • Rich D Spring, Class C, Venice
  • Anthony Swinford, Class SW, Fort Myers
  • Robert J Warren, Class C, Tarpon Springs
  • Scott R Austin, formerly (A) at Myakka Pines Golf Club, is now (A) at Longboat Key Club-Islandside Course in Longboat Key
  • Sean Brunske, formerly (C) at Red Hill Country Club, is now (C) at The Country Club of Sebring in Sebring
  • Paul M Clark, formerly (A) at Castine Golf Club, is now (A) at The Diplomat Golf Resort & Spa in Hallandale Beach
  • Douglas B Cunefare Jr, formerly (AS) at Heritage Oaks Golf & Country Club, is now (AS) at Gasparilla Inn & Club in Boca Grande
  • Richie E Edwards, formerly (A) at Holiday Golf Club, is now (A) at Fort Walton Beach Golf Course in Fort Walton Beach
  • Shane R Willey, formerly (C) at Grasslands Golf & Country Club, is now (B) at The Great Outdoors Golf Club in Titusville

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