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John Reitman

By John Reitman

Superintendent of the Year finalist: Kyle Callahan, Victoria National GC, Newburgh, Indiana

In just six years at Victoria National Golf Club, Kyle Callahan has built a career defined by efficiency.

soycallahanmug.jpgThat's usually the way for every superintendent, but it is especially important at Victoria National, a 418-acre tract in Newburgh, Indiana that stretches 3 miles from one end of the property to the other.

"Working for Paul B. Latshaw, we were always thinking ahead. I've instilled that same culture into our program," Callahan said. "If you start a project and aren't thinking through that project, if you forget something in shop, you can make four trips and you've lost an hour of work."

For his ability to manage a huge property with a modest staff as efficiently as possible, Callahan has been named a finalist for the TurfNet Superintendent of the Year Award, presented by Syngenta.

A graduate of Oklahoma State, Callahan worked under Latshaw at Muirfield from 2006 to 2010.

"I'm not one who sits in an office," Callahan said. "A good leader leads by example. As much as I have office work to do, I have to instill the things taught to me, and I have to be out there to teach that."

I'm not one who sits in an office. A good leader leads by example. As much as I have office work to do, I have to instill the things taught to me, and I have to be out there to teach that.

Efficiency also is important because Callahan is managing bentgrass - L93 tee to green - in an area where all other courses are growing zoysiagrass, which is more tolerant to heat and dry and conditions.

soycallahan1.jpg"We're all cool-season grass, and everyone else around here is all zoysia," he said. 

"L93 can handle heat and humidity, but not drough. The trend now is to go a little brown, but if we back off the wate, it doesn't just go brown; it goes brown and dormant."

Victoria National is an undulating course with a lot of elevation change. It took seven members of his crew several days to push mow grass bunkers and banks throughout the course. Callahan eventually found an alternative method - the use of robotic mowers from Evatech - that has helped save labor hours and allows him to redirect human resources elsewhere.

"I personally have worked at five golf courses across the country with four of them being ranked in the top 50 in the country by Golf Digest, and I have never been part of a team that can successfully complete multiple tasks with limited people in such a short amount of time," wrote assistant superintendent Dane Olsen in his nomination of Callahan for the Superintendent of the Year Award. "Kyle has a talent for being able to schedule members of our Agronomy team to efficiently get multiple jobs done at once with strategic placement."

Edited by John Reitman

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