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David Phipps

Northwest regional representative

A former superintendent, David spent more than 20 years in the golf course management industry before joining the GCSAA staff. He resides in Oregon City, Ore.
Tel. 800-472-7878, ext. 3608.

Field staff report

GCSAA's Assistant Superintendent Certificate Series

by Dave Phipps | May 28, 2021

By now I’m sure you have all heard of the GCSAA’s Assistant Superintendent Certificate Series (ASCS), but may not have given it much thought. If you’re an assistant and you are reading this blog, I hope I can at least pique your interest, so please continue to read. If you’re a superintendent, I implore you to read further and discover a way to help your assistant develop personally and professionally.
My only regret in my career was waiting until I was a superintendent to become a GCSAA member. Today, GCSAA offers so much in terms of education and opportunities for the assistant. All it takes is a career mindset and then the sky is the limit. When I first met Mitch Savage, he was the assistant at Green Valley Ranch Golf Club in Colorado. Mitch wasted no time connecting with me and soon became a highly engaged member. In no time, he was traveling to make presentations as an assistant and eventually landed a role on the GCSAA Assistant Superintendent Task Group. From there, he helped develop the Assistant Superintendent Certificate Series. Soon after that, Mitch became the superintendent at the Broken Tee Golf Course in Englewood and is now superintendent at Commonground Golf Course in Aurora. I would say Mitch is one of those exceptions out there, but to my point, as an assistant, you can tap into the Assistant Superintendent Certificate Series (ASCS) and it will put you on the same track as Mitch. All you have to do is put your mind to it. 

Today, there are almost 3,400 Class C members in our association, most of which are aspiring to become a superintendent. GCSAA is dedicated to advancing the profession of the assistant and helping them prepare for the next step in their career. So far there have been 78 individuals that have completed the ASCS and are well on their way to bringing a higher level of professionalism to their facility.

The Assistant Superintendent Certificate Series is composed of certificates covering key competency areas of:

Leadership and Communications
Environmental Stewardship

The certificates are golf-centric, available to GCSAA members and non-members, and can be completed in any order. It is strongly recommended that the candidate has at least two years of work experience in the job duties of an assistant superintendent before beginning any of the ASCS certificates. However, the certificates are available to all and not limited to assistants.

The Principles of Golf Course Agronomy and Principles of Golf Course Business certificates are earned by passing exams of the same name. These  exams are online, open-book, and do not require a proctor. Candidates will have three hours to take the exams, which are administered in two sections. A five-minute break will be offered between part 1 and part 2. The cost of each exam is $40 for members and $60 for non-members. You will have two attempts with each purchase of the exam. 

For both, Principles of Golf Course Leadership & Communications and Principles of Golf Course Environmental Stewardship certificates, candidates must watch a series of webinars and will then need to pass the associated quiz with each of the required webinars. 

Additionally, the Principles of Golf Course Leadership & Communications certificate also requires the candidate to demonstrate proficiency in the competencies covered in the certificate by completing two of the following ancillary activities:

Work with a mentor and document the experience.
Write and have published an article for a chapter newsletter or GCM.
Volunteer on a GCSAA, chapter, or golf organization task group or committee or participate in hosting a GCSAA First Green event at your course. 
Give a presentation and document the experience. 

The Principles of Golf Course Environmental Stewardship certificate also requires the candidate to demonstrate competency proficiency by completing one of the following ancillary activities:

Complete the GCSAA IPM exam.
Participate in your state’s process to develop BMPs.
Complete the facility BMP template for your course.

The fees  for these two certificates are:
GCSAA members: $50
Non-members: $75 for the certificate plus an additional $60 per webinar. There are 14 webinars in the Leadership and Communications certificate; and 10 webinars in the Environmental Stewardship.


The Assistant Superintendent Certificate Series would not be possible without the generous support that GCSAA receives from John Deere Golf. John Deere is providing $100 gift certificates to the first 50 participants and $50 gift certificates to the next 50 participants who complete the program in 2021. There are still gift certificates available so you can still qualify for one. 

I would like to congratulate Kalman Zaranec from Circling Raven Golf Club for being the first to complete the program from Idaho, as well as Mark Lyon from Teton Pines Resort & Country Club for being the first from Wyoming! Mark offered the following comment from his experience in completing the ASCS:

The ASCS program worked well for me because it was so adaptable. Once you identify the areas where you have weaknesses, or less experience, you can choose your elective courses specifically to help build those skills. I also like how the program lets you kind of zoom out and get a more macro perspective on the position of Assistant Superintendent. We can all get into our own routines of daily tasks and managing employees and kind of lose sight of the big picture. I liked how the program covered such a wide array of topics allowing me to evaluate all the aspects of my position and how I was performing in each one.

Kudos to both Kal and Mark for taking the initiative and completing the program. 

Who’s next?!



  • Mitchell Bryden, Class AS, Berthoud
  • Mark Cypress, Class EM, Aurora
  • Jared Dillinger, Class C, Evergreen
  • Michael Ewert, Class AFCR, Greenwood Village
  • Mitchell D Reifschneider, Class AS, Berthoud


  • Abe M Coulsey, Class C, Mountain Home


  • Jesse D Cummings, Class AS, Kamas
  • Andrew J Dunlop, Class C, Hurricane
  • Devon J Purser, Class C, Hill Afb
  • Brad Sparks, Class AF, Pleasant Grove
  • Jeff B Tracy, Class B, Ogden


  • Charles F Schauwecker, Class C, Sammamish
  • Tristan L Sowa, Class EM, Redmond


  • James J Burnside, Class EM, Jackson


  • Adam Conway, formerly (I), is now (A) at Cedaredge Golf Club in Cedaredge
  • Jason L Hinkley, formerly (B) at Heritage Eagle Bend Golf Club, is now (AF) at CPS Distributors, Inc in Denver
  • Lance Lauer, formerly (C) at Country Club at Castle Pines, is now (C) at Cherry Creek Country Club in Denver
  • Daniel G Robbins, formerly (C) at Hiwan Golf Club, is now (C) at TPC Colorado in Berthoud


  • Daniel M Frederiksen, formerly (C) at Stoneridge Golf Club, is now (C) at The Golf Club at Black Rock in Coeur D Alene
  • Christopher D Gray, formerly (A) at Elkhorn Golf Club, is now (A) at Magic Valley Bentgrass in Filer


  • Conner J Olsen, formerly (S) at Oregon State University, is now (S) at Oswego Lake Country Club in Lake Oswego
  • Corey J Underhill, formerly (C) at Palos Verdes Golf Club, is now (C) at Sunriver Resort-Meadows Course in Bend


  • Raymond H McCormick, formerly (S) at Washington State University, is now (AS) at Broadmoor Golf Club in Seattle
  • Donald B Nelson, formerly (C) at Indian Canyon Golf Course, is now (B) at Esmeralda Golf Course in Spokane
  • Dean A Owen, formerly (EM) at Inglewood Golf Club, is now (EM) at The Cedars at Dungeness in Sequim
  • Manuel J Torres, formerly (B) at Three Lakes Golf Club, is now (C) at Club at Snoqualmie Ridge in Snoqualmie

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