Attracted to Turf at a Young Age
John Humphrey may be young, but he knew he wanted to be a golf course superintendent for a long time. "I was always interested in turf management," he says, beginning his turf education at just 14 years of age at the Monmouth County Career Center (MCCC). MCCC’s turf resources, including a par 3 golf course that students maintain, gave him a solid foundation in golf course turf care and management. Humphrey, who enjoyed playing golf and working outdoors, knew right away that it was for him and decided to strive to become a golf course superintendent.
He began working at the Beacon Hill Country Club in Atlantic Highlands, NJ, on the weekends, gaining valuable real-life experience and a foot in the door to a beautiful course. During his senior year at MCCC, the Center held a turf competition for students in the program. Humphrey entered and identified a variety of weeds and turf diseases to win the first prize—a scholarship for the Rutgers Professional Golf Turf Management School Three-Week Preparatory Short Course, offered by the Office of Continuing Professional Education.
From Student to Professional
In January 2009, Humphrey was the youngest student in the Three- Week Preparatory Short Course. The Rutgers Professional Golf Turf Management School runs both Three Week course and a Two Year Certificate program. The three-week course is an introduction to the science behind the practices used by golf course superintendents and an overview of the technical skills needed for a golf course turf management job. Since Humphrey already had an extensive background in turf, his age did not put him at any disadvantage. "I had a foundation already, so I knew the concepts," he explains.
Despite having studied turf before, Humphrey’s experience in the three-week course was not merely a review. "I thought it was a really great course," he says after finishing. "They touched on everything. It was more than what I expected." Despite its length, Humphrey emphasized how well-rounded the three-week course is, where he learned everything from growing turf and identifying weeds right down to the math that superintendents need to properly fertilize the grass! "I’m prepared for the two year program," he says, which he intends to begin this coming year.
Sending His Career in the Right Direction
Humphrey has already begun to see the impact of the three-week course on the work he does every day. His enthusiasm has only increased: "It makes me want to pursue my turf management career even more," he says. Since attending Rutgers, Humphrey says, his boss at Beacon Hill (where he now works full-time as a greenskeeper) has definitely taken notice of his dedication and the quality of his work. By earning his Three Week Turf Management Certificate, Humphrey’s boss knows that he is serious about his career choice, and it gives him an edge over other employees who have not committed as fully.
With his high school diploma and his Three-Week Turf Management Certificate in hand, Humphrey can definitely see himself reaching his goal and becoming a golf course superintendent. The education and skills he has acquired from the three-week course have made Humphrey ready and excited for the two-year course. "I think it’s a really great program," Humphrey says of Rutgers Professional Golf Turf Management School. "I’d recommend it to anybody."
Beacon Hill Country Club is located in Atlantic Highlands, NJ. For information about memberships, golf schedules, and hosting events, call 732-291-0533 or visit http://www.beaconhillcc.org.