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Joe D. Wachter, CGCS, Glen Echo Country Club, St. Louis, MO


Peter McCormick

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TurfNet is pleased to recognize Joe D. Wachter, CGCS, of Glen Echo Country Club, St. Louis, MO, as our first All Star of Turf.

Following a life-long passion for all things green, in 1990 Joe transitioned at age 32 from a ten year stint in school bus system management — supervising 150 drivers and a $3 million budget — to an assistant superintendent position at nearby Sunset Country Club under Lee Redman. 

Joe consulted his younger brother Ed, superintendent at Franklin County Country Club, prior to making the move. “Ed told me, ‘You have the management education (BA in business management from Southeast Missouri State) and experience. If Lee is willing to teach you the agronomy, then go for it,’” Joe recalled.

Turned out Lee was a big believer in education and new experiences, so took Joe under his wing. Joe took eleven horticulture courses over the next five years at nearby  STLCC- Meramec, and attended regional and national turf conferences with Lee.

”I was really playing catch-up with my peers in the early years, so I grabbed all the education I could and surrounded myself with smart people who I could learn from,” Joe said.

I was really playing catch-up with my peers in the early years, so I grabbed all the education I could and surrounded myself with smart people who I could learn from…”

After three years at Sunset CC, Joe got his first superintendent position at New Melle Lakes GC. Three years later he moved on to Eagle Springs GC, a 27-hole track on the outskirts of St. Louis. It was at that point that he joined TurfNet, paying the ($295 at the time) fee out of his own pocket.

”Joining TurfNet provided me with another opportunity to learn from a lot of smart superintendents, guys like Oscar Miles, Jerry Coldiron, Gordon Witteveen and Kevin Ross, among many others,” Joe said. “All those people not only helped me become a better turf manager, but also a better human being.” He went on to become one of our most active participants over the next 25 years, offering his own experiences and opinions while learning from others.

Prior to the 2009 GIS in post-Katrina New Orleans, TurfNet decided to help with a Habitat for Humanity build prior to the show. Joe organized and orchestrated the 2-day, 20-person effort. Why?

“My parents were very active on the local and state levels of Kiwanis, and instilled in me a strong ethic of public service and giving back to others,” Joe explained. “Running the Habitat project was a natural extension of that.”

My parents instilled in me a strong ethic of public service and giving back to others…”

Joe spent seven years at Eagle Springs before moving to Spencer T. Olin GC in Alton, IL, where he spent another five years in public golf. He transitioned to the private side in 2008 by taking the reins at Glen Echo Country Club, one of the oldest clubs west of the Mississippi and the site of the 1904 Olympic golf competition.

Early into his tenure at Glen Echo, Joe decided to document a construction/repair project on the course in a blog (http://geccgcm.blogspot.com) which he still maintains and has contributed over 1400 posts to this day. “I didn’t want to be the guy walking down the road due to a failure to communicate,” Joe said.

He stepped up to GM/superintendent at Glen Echo in 2018 and served in that capacity for two years before deciding it wasn’t for him and returning to the golf course full time. “That was a long two years,” Joe quipped.

Joe has recently initiated conversations with club management regarding his transition to retirement three years out. “I’m 64 now and want to work until full retirement age of 66-1/2,” he said. “The club has been very good to me over the past 13 years. I want to give them time to select a good replacement for me and every advantage in having a smooth transition, not only here but at the club my replacement will be coming from.”

A noble thought, one that we can’t recall ever hearing before.  For his character and contributions to the industry and to TurfNet, we are happy to recognize Joe Wachter as our first All Star of Turf.  Spend some time with Joe in the video below.

 

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Congrats Joe!  I've had the opportunity to know and work with Joe for a long time and he is truly most deserving of this award.

Len Toenjes

President

Glen Echo Country Club

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