Steve Cook has had a career laced with high profile tournaments, including two U.S. Amateurs, a Ryder Cup, and a PGA Championship while at Oakland Hills, and a BMW Championship in 2019 at Medinah Country Club. Yet to him, a career should be more about contribution than achievement.
He has mentored and graduated many assistants onto their own successful superintendent careers, and takes great pride and satisfaction in the ongoing relationships with them. His primary criterion for hiring an assistant is character. "I owe it to the rest of the team to not bring in someone who isn't a good fit," Cook said. "I look for good people. The other stuff they can learn."
Cook has a knack for boiling the seemingly complex down to the simple, whether it's writing a blog or orchestrating a management plan. "What we do as superintendents really isn't that complicated," he said. "I think we tend to overcomplicate it at times."
Why are there so many open positions for assistants? "Because of the self-inflicted damage we've done to ourselves as an industry over the past two or three decades," according to Cook.
This is a fascinating conversation with one who gets it. Gets the job and life away from it. Who else do you know who had climbed a 22,000 ft mountain in Nepal? Listen or watch, and learn.