If you talk to Brian Cross about his life and his future, you will surely feel his excitement.
Cross was in college studying wildlife and fisheries when his future took a sharp turn. He started doing landscaping work at Rolling Green Golf Course in Media, PA and began taking landscape design short courses at Rutgers.
One day, Brian "crossed over" to help the turf staff that was doing a grow-in on the course. Cross liked the turf management work, was good at it and got hired for a full time position in the golf turf division.
From there, Cross's boss at Rolling Green suggested that he hook up with Rutgers alumnus Steve Stephens, the Superintendent at Paxon Hollow, who was in need of good help and had a position that would enable Cross to further develop his potential.
A Turfgrass Education
After he had five years experience under his belt, Brian felt pretty sure of his skills. But he decided to enroll in The Rutgers Professional Golf Turf Management School Two-Year Certificate Program anyway and his time there was a real eye-opener.
"I thought that I knew what I was doing," he confessed, "but after school, I earned all the confidence. I learned the why behind the how."
The Benefits of the Rutgers Program
The practical, hands-on nature of the program -- "All subjects were directly related to golf!" Brian said – was one plus. Another major positive was the faculty.
World Class Faculty
"The teachers have so much enthusiasm," Brian recalled.
He shared one of his favorite examples: "Steve Kristoph – you don't have to know anything about trees but his enthusiasm rubs off. I roomed with a kid from [a place in] Colorado where there are no trees and after Steve's class he was so excited he couldn't wait to keep learning."
Brian already knew Rutgers alumni from working at Paxon Hollow, so the value of networking was not lost on him.
"Rutgers has such a large diversity of students from across the country. I think that's important in this industry; you need to network throughout the US."
It was through one such connection that Brian got an exciting opportunity. His classmate, Tom Haluck, was working at Oakmont Country Club. Haluck called Brian and invited him and another Rutgers classmate to work at the U.S. Open, which was being hosted there that summer.
Career Outlook After Graduation
Many doors were opened for Brian because of attending the Rutgers program. "People hear 'Rutgers' and get all excited," said Cross.
Cross was able to be choosy, turning down some job offers (like a superintendent position at a 36 hole public course) and instead consulted for a driving range while seeking out the perfect fit. He finally found it back where he started, becoming Assistant Superintendent for Paxon Hollow.
Cross was nominated to attend the prestigious Bayer and John Deere Green Start Academy in North Carolina, which trains the best Assistant Superintendents on the most up-to-date golf turf strategies and practices. He accepted the nomination and attended in October 2007.
His Rutgers education has certainly opened a lot of doors. However, his own hard work, ambition and determination were critical factors in getting him where he is today. "People who want to get in here [Rutgers] have to be serious," Cross advised.