Brad Jolliff, KickingBird Golf Club, Edmond, Oklahoma
Golf course superintendents are used to performing often under grueling conditions. Still, it's difficult to imagine facing some of the conditions Brad Jolliff encountered in 2013.
Superintendent at KickingBird Golf Club in Edmond, Okla. for the past 15 years, Jolliff faced a trying set of circumstances last year that included both of his assistants and a full-time equipment operator leaving early in the year, leaving only Jolliff and his mechanic as the only full-time employees for much of the season at a daily fee facility subject to heavy play.
Add to that an extremely wet spring and summer that brought about 37 inches of rain between April and July in the Oklahoma City area, which is about 17 inches above normal, according to the National Weather Service. Those rainfall totals included a record 14.5 inches in May, according to NWS.
Despite the many hurdles facing Jolliff, many of the golfers who play at KickingBird say its greens rate with any found in the Oklahoma City area, including at private clubs. And they say Jolliff is the reason why.
"I have played KickingBird Golf Course since the 1970s. Never has this course been as attractive, well-groomed and inviting to players," said KickingBird golfer Judy Warren. "I have recommended this course to many individuals. On every occasion, I have described KickingBird as public course that could be mistaken for a private club course. That explains the dedication and desire by Brad and his team to please the public and those of us who do not have private club memberships."
By May, Jolliff's second assistant and equipment operator had left KickingBird, and his first assistant received a head superintendent's position about a month later. With the months of golf left for KickingBird, only Jolliff and equipment manager Sylvester Tillman were full-time employees of the city-owned course. Seasonal helped ranged between eight and 10 (mostly high school students working their first jobs) throughout the season.
For his dedication to the course and those who play it, Jolliff has been named as a finalist for the 2013 TurfNet Superintendent of the Year Award, presented by Syngenta. The winner will be announced Feb. 6 during the Golf Industry Show in Orlando, Fla.
A total of 38 people who play or work at KickingBird submitted nominations on Jolliff's behalf. Humbled by the recognition, he doesn't believe he has done anything that any his 15,000 or so colleagues around the country wouldn't do if put in his position.
"What I did is very similar to what I hear a lot of superintendents have done," Jolliff said. "There are periods in our careers when we will have to work a lot if not every day. I worked every day for five or six weeks.
"I know that I didn't count the hours. That might get discouraging."
Still, golfers who play at KickingBird are indebted to Jolliff for ushering the course through trying times in 2013.
"His team consisted entirely of seasonal employees, with the exception of his full-time mechanic,. Due to this shortage Brad put in many extra hours throughout the summer," said Brett Pribble, a member of KickingBird's advisory board. "I appreciate his effort and am proud that he was able to keep our municipal course in excellent shape."
For Jolliff, the dedication required to get through the year is part of doing what he loves best - providing a golf course with the best possible playing conditions.
"I enjoy the customer interaction as much as the agronomic side of the business," he said. "That is why I don't mind the hours. There is a lot of satisfaction knowing that the customers are enjoying their time at KickingBird because of what we have done in preparation for them."
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