The Knowledge Gained From Volunteering

Written by  //  May 19, 2014  //  Growth  //  3 Comments


In May of 2012, I showed up at the agronomy department at TPC Sawgrass eager to prove my worth, while volunteering for The Players Championship. I had no idea what to expect upon my arrival. All I knew was that I was eager to work hard and make my name stick in the minds of the important names in the turfgrass world that would be there, after all The Players is one of the biggest stages in the golfing world. It was a fast paced, exciting week that proved invaluable to me in my young career. Fast forward two years, and many miles of experience later, I made my way back to TPC Sawgrass for a second dose of volunteer life. This time was completely different, but just as valuable as the first time I made my way to Dye’s masterpiece.

I have a mantra that I live by concerning my professional career. It is simply this. Whatever situation you are in, whether its playing in a local association’s spring opener, or having an in depth conversation with a 30 year superintendent about what has made him successful over his career, take only the positives from each situation and apply them to your own personal endeavors. The first time I was at The Players, I learned that to be successful in this industry, you must be willing to give every ounce of energy you have to make yourself a force in this industry. I watched the leadership and crew at TPC Sawgrass give all that they possibly could to make their tournament a success. They were enthusiastic, driven, and determined that the golf course would be immaculate when all eyes were on it. I quickly learned that this level of sacrifice is contagious. Very quickly, 80 strangers from all over the world had bought into the idea that if we all go that extra 10 feet past that extra mile, then you can create something that will be remembered for years to come. This lesson was important to me at this stage in my career. Taking pride in your work is vital in all aspects of life, but even more so in the golf course industry.

When I showed up to this year’s version of The Players, I was in a completely different place in my professional journey. You see, when I went in 2012, I viewed my time at The Players from the eyes of an intern. I was there to grind it out, network, and hope that my hard work would be noticed by important people that could help me later in my career. In 2014, I looked at it from a totally different perspective, the eyes of the leadership team. Tom Vlach, Clay Breazeale, and all of the leadership detail directly under them, are excellent people to mimic. They handled numerous tough situations with grace, poise, and strength. They never cracked when The Golf Channel said their greens were not going to be playable. Actually, they dug down deeper and found a will to succeed that I have never seen in 10 years of working in the golf course industry. Every piece in their puzzle had a specific place and they put it together quickly. The moves they made were calculated and carried out with confidence. They positioned over 100 people on their golf course every morning and evening. Everyone knew their roles, and was motivated to carry them out to the best of their abilities. The positive aspect I took from this tournament was that to be an effective leader on a golf course, you must know first what your course needs, and secondly who can give you the best desired results. You must have a positive attitude even when things are bleak. I learned that the negative situations I have seen over the years do not have to end negatively. With the proper motivation, and the right pieces, you can achieve your desired success.

I highly advise that if you have not volunteered for a major tournament that you do so, but be warned it is not simply showing up and simply watching a golf tournament. I mowed greens morning and night, and found that this meant that I walked 13.5 miles a day on average. The coolest thing is I would do it again next week if I were asked to do so. I wanted to do my part to make the course the best it could be for the best players on the planet. I applaud the leadership team, crew, and volunteers for the rejuvenation I felt driving home from TPC Sawgrass. I can’t wait to do my part again next year.

About the Author

Rodney Crouse

I grew up in the foothills of North Carolina, where I quickly fell in love with the outdoors and the game of golf. After working in the golf industry for 3 years I decided to enroll in Michigan State University’s 2 year golf turf program. Upon graduation in March of 2012, I was the first assistant superintendent at Tam-O-Shanter Country Club in West Bloomfield, Michigan. In December 2013, my family and I moved back to the foothills of N.C where we currently reside. I am currently the first assistant superintendent at Maple Chase Golf and Country Club in Winston-Salem, N.C. Please contact me at or follow me on Twitter @Ruckusrod22.

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