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John Reitman

By John Reitman

Superintendent of the Year finalist: Matt DiMase, The Abaco Club on Winding Bay, Abaco, Bahamas


Workers make repairs to the golf course in the months following Hurricane Dorian.

With his golf course devastated by a hurricane, it would have been understandable for any superintendent to focus on clean up and recovery efforts inside the gates and let the rest of the world fend for itself.

soydimasemug.jpgThat is not Matt DiMase's way.

When Hurricane Dorian crossed The Bahamas last Sept. 1, the storm devastated The Abaco Club on Winding Bay where DiMase is superintendent, and pretty much the rest of The Bahamas as well. The scene was horrific: homes and buildings flattened or gone, towns devastated, dead bodies, dead animals, debris everywhere. In the days, weeks and months after the hurricane, he stayed on the island during Hurricane Dorian and used his knowledge and experience as a superintendent to head up relief efforts on the golf course, for members of his team and for locals in his community.

For his efforts to help his employer, employees and local community, DiMase has been named a finalist for the TurfNet Superintendent of the Year Award, presented by Syngenta.

A veteran of Hurricane Charley in 2004 when he lived in southwest Florida, DeMase and his team did all the normal things one does to prepare for such an event - sweep the course of everything that is not nailed down, fill fuel tanks, make sure chainsaws are ready. It's what he did afterward that stood out.

He began work to restore water and clear a way to his maintenance facility, which was flooded and nearly everything in it destroyed. The club, which hired a security team to protect it from looters, was without water and electricity for 45 days. With no phone service, it was weeks before he was able to reach everyone on his team. His immediate concerns were the wellbeing of his staff and trying to keep his greens alive.

The club-provided home he was living in was destroyed, so he moved into another house owned by the club and opened its doors to others from his team displaced by the hurricane.

The scene after Hurricane Dorian was horrific: homes and buildings flattened or gone, towns devastated, dead bodies, dead animals, debris everywhere.

He was a point person for recovery efforts, meeting multiple times with the Bahamian prime minister, head of immigration and other government officials.

When he received a plea for help from a member of his crew, he and the security team went into town to rescue him and his family. And when the mother of a crew member and a contractor employed by the club had to be evacuated for medical reasons, he contacted the U.S. Embassy to organize a U.S. Border Patrol air evacuation to Florida. 

As if all of that was not enough, in the months leading up to the hurricane, DiMase organized the first chapter or golf course superintendents in the Caribbean.

"Any adversity Matt faces he takes it head on," said Gary Cotton, a sales rep for Winfield based in Florida, in his nomination letter supporting DiMase. "It's one of the things that makes him stand out and one of the things I admire the most. If Matt is presented with a challenge or told something can't be done, it's best to sit back and watch, because he thrives on challenges."

Edited by John Reitman

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