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John Reitman

By John Reitman

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Superintendent of the Year finalist: Jorge Croda

Jorge Croda came to Southern Oaks Golf Club near Fort Worth, Texas three years ago with a reputation for whipping downtrodden golf courses into shape back in his native Mexico.

 
e5700cc43ab5b3643d8f63cf5f7af746-.jpgTwo years later, he converted into a thing of beauty a course that was in such bad shape it was dragging down home values in the surrounding neighborhood.
 
Now, with a golf course they can be proud of, members are getting a glimpse into why Croda is so successful. Hint, the answer goes far beyond agronomics.
 
He works not only to provide an enjoyable golf experience for his members, but also promotes life and professional skills for his crew, is active in a church golf league and has become a certified First Tee coach to help grow the game.
 
"Jorge is a very unique individual in that he has the rare quality of being respected by peers, colleagues, friends, family and from my perspective, is truly able to connect with young people," wrote Kevin Long, director of The First Tee of Fort Worth, in his nomination letter. "The excitement he demonstrates when working with the participants in our program is truly impressive. His knowledge of both the game of golf and the fundamental life skills and character development aspects of our program makes him an effective instructor, role model and mentor. Jorge's ability to engage and build positive relationships with anyone he is around is truly inspirational and a valued aspect of his abilities in The First Tee program."
 
b10e4438559547ec922cd6ba1f4e4316-.jpgCroda saw hiring and training his own crew as the first step toward reviving the course when he came aboard at Southern Oaks three seasons ago.
 
For his philosophy as an agronomist, manager and member of the community to be successful, he says, it must reflect the mission and values of the club.
 
And just like Croda's resume since coming to Southern Hills, the club in Burleson promotes an atmosphere that values teamwork and volunteerism.
 
"I have known Jorge for approximately five years. We met when he joined the parish golf league at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Keller," said Tom Schneider, who also nominated Croda. "Jorge was immediately liked by all the players in the league.  We quickly came to realize that not only was Jorge a great player, but that he also genuinely cares about others.  He always takes the time to offer a piece of instruction where appropriate, sharing his vast knowledge of the swing and short game with his friends in the league.  His presence in our parish golf league has made a major impact. His contributions, in playing, helping others improve their game and always being an encouraging member, have helped our league to win the last three years after having lost for the previous 10 years."
 
He shows similar penchant for coaching his workers, for whom he provides computer training and English language instruction to improve their employment opportunities in the U.S.
 
"We need to understand (other) cultures. We need to respect that," Croda said. "I teach that to my crew. For Mexican workers in the United States, the motivation is to do better. You can come here, and you can better yourself.
 
"I need to understand more about this culture in the United States. If I learn more about it, I can do a better job. If I just say, 'no, no, no, this is my culture and you need to understand me,' that's not true."
 
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