Certified Golf Course Superintendent Mark Jordan has worn many hats during his turfgrass career, much to the benefit of his Ohio golf course property and his profession.
Professional advocacy is nothing new for Mark Jordan, CGCS, the Natural Resources Leader at Westfield Group Country Club in Westfield Center, Ohio. The Certified Golf Course Superintendent has worked in various positions during a turfgrass career at Westfield that has spanned almost 22 years, and the entire golf industry has benefited from his willingness to get involved and his understanding of all aspects of club operations.
As the Natural Resources Leader of Westfield Group CC, he manages the human, financial, natural and mechanical resources that are associated with the golf course and clubhouse grounds operations. He also served as the property’s General Manager from 2002 until 2006, and he was a member of the Club Managers Association of America and the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America during that time.
Jordan, who earned his associate’s degree in applied science and turfgrass management, and a bachelor’s degree in agriculture and agronomy, from The Ohio State University, has served on state boards and national committees to advance the profession of golf course superintendent. He has served as a board member of the Northern Ohio Superintendent’s Association and the Ohio Turfgrass Foundation. In addition, he has participated in the GCSAA Governmental Relations and Strategic Communications committees. He also is running for the GCSAA Board of Directors this year.
No. of Holes: 36
Designers: Geoff Cornish and Craig Schreiner
Type: Corporate-owned private
No. of Members: 600
Annual Rounds: 36,000
Year Opened: South Course front nine, 1937, back nine, 1968; North Course 18 holes, 1973
Fairways: Primarily bent with some Poa
Greens: Primarily Poa with some bent
Honors and Awards: Certified Golf Course Superintendent Mark Jordan was the Dan Sondles Political Action Committee Award winner (March 2011) for Golf and Turf Industry Advocacy and the Ohio Turfgrass Foundation 2011 Professional of the Year Award winner.
Westfield Group Country Club was the site of the Junior PGA Championship from 2001-2007 and the Junior Ryder Cup in 2004.
In honor of his commitment to the golf industry, he was named the winner of the Ohio Turfgrass Foundation 2011 Professional of the Year Award. Jordan recently spoke to Club & Resort Business about the award and his commitment to government advocacy.
Q: What do your duties as the Natural Resources Leader of Westfield Group Country Club include?
A: I oversee our 36-hole golf facility, which covers approximately 282 acres of manicured turf, naturalized areas, ponds and woodlands. I also assisted in providing feedback on some of our (Westfield Group Insurance) golf course-related insurance programs and have been involved with the development and execution of companywide safety programs.
Q: What kind of role did you play in the passage of Senate Bill 51, which designated the last week in May as Ohio Turfgrass Week?
A: I was on the Ohio Turfgrass Foundation Board of Directors when we first thought of the concept, and fortunately, we were in a position to have a legislative sponsor, Senator Sue Morano, who was able to get bipartisan support and move it forward as Senate Bill 51. Mr. Bill Hoops (Ohio Lawn Care Association), Dr. Mike Beohm (Ohio State University) and myself, were able to testify in front of the Senate Ag. Committee to educate and provide economical, environmental, recreational and historical insight of turfgrass and the turfgrass industry in the state of Ohio.
Q: What is the significance of Ohio Turfgrass Week?
A: It creates an awareness of the economical, environmental and recreational impact of the turf and the turfgrass industry in the state. It also provides an opportunity of familiarity of the industry for issues concerning any type of future legislation that may impact the turf industry.
Q: How important is government advocacy to the golf industry?
A: Very important. I have had the privilege of being on the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) Governmental Relations Committee the past two years, and I’ve seen firsthand the growing activity in legislative issues across the country regarding the golf course and turf industry. It’s very important to have advocates for our industry around the country to help educate our members on current trends in national, state and local legislation.
Q: As a Certified Golf Course Superintendent, what kind of knowledge and skill sets can you bring to the discussion with various stakeholders in the business?
A: Although certification is important, I think it’s the passion behind wanting the industry to succeed, and that comes from personal drive. Part of that personal drive was to become certified. Working in a corporate environment like Westfield, as well as being a former general manager, has provided me an opportunity to understand the business from the inside out. As far as a skill set, I think customer service communication, financial acumen and having perspective of many different jobs allows me to anticipate member needs and be proactive in communicating thoughts, activities and needs to members, employees and the leadership at Westfield.
Q: Tell us about your involvement with the Ohio Turfgrass Foundation.
A: Graduating from Ohio State in 1986, OTF had a direct impact on me as a student through scholarship (OTF Scholarship winner 1986) and networking opportunities. Prior to being on the OTF Board of Directors, I was involved in The Northern Ohio GCSA Chapter and was President in 1999 and 2000. I had the opportunity to work for some individuals who were very passionate and active in professional organizations. Most notably Rick Kucharski and John Spodnik (Past GCSAA President, 1969). John is still a good friend and mentor of mine.
I was involved with OTF for nine years from 1999 to 2008 and was chair of the membership committee, golf and legislative committee and was active on a number of other committees.
When I was first elected to the board of NOGCSA in 1996, I realized what a unique opportunity it was to help lead our profession. I remember Jim Hippley, retired Salem Country Club Superintendent, congratulating me and then he said, “You need to be an active board member.” I didn’t realize what he meant until I became more involved with the association activities, but I quickly formulated a vision of becoming involved at the state and national level, trying to help and learn each step along the way.
Q: Tell us about your involvement with the national We Are Golf campaign.
A: It’s been a great opportunity to meet and rekindle acquaintances from the CMAA and the PGA to promote the industry at a national level. One of my platforms for running for national office is the viability of the golf industry, and we must collectively move ahead to continue to promote the game from an economical, environmental, recreational and personal wellness perspective. From a state level, being on the Play Golf Ohio Board provided experiences of working with the PGA, CMAA, GCSAA and Ohio Golf Course Owners Association. We have had the opportunity to promote the industry at the state level through discussions with the Department of Economic Development as well as the Division of Tourism in 2008.
Q: Tell us about your work on the GCSAA’s Governmental Relations Committee.
A: Being a part of the Governmental Relations Committee has helped broaden my knowledge and perspective on legislative issues around the country. We have many challenges facing us around the country regarding fertilizer/pesticide regulations, water quality and conservation labor, and facility accessibility, and it is important to have continuous monitoring of these issues. The GCSAA GR Committee, as well as GCSAA staff – Chava McKeel in particular – do a fantastic job of keeping the committee as well as the general membership aware of specific issues as they take shape. If it were not for Chava, Carrie Riordon and the other GCSAA staff members involved, it would be very difficult to keep our finger on the pulse.
Q: How receptive are state and national lawmakers to the concerns of golf industry stakeholders, and have their attitudes changed at all in recent years?
A: I feel they are becoming more aware of the economical, environmental, recreational and wellness benefits that golf and other turf-related industries have. Advocacy groups at both levels have positively influenced the industry by promoting the industry through a balanced, educated approach that includes science-based research.
From a national level, spreading the word regarding economic impact is very important and there have been pockets of environmental success stories, most notably the superintendents who have engaged the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Commission. Also, several state associations are in the midst of or have completed the development of Golf Course Best Management Practices, which proactively communicates to legislators that the industry has practices in place that recognize environmental awareness and importance.
In Ohio legislators are now realizing the impact of both the golf and general turf industries. As an industry that has an indirect economic impact of $4.8 million and creates 60,000 jobs, it typically catches their eye. There is also an advocacy group called OPARR (Ohio Pesticide Applicators for Responsible Regulations) consisting of many industries involved with pesticide applications in the state. I was recently appointed to the board and attended my first board meeting in November. I appreciate the opportunity to be on this board, as there are many crossover issues between the agriculture, structural pest control, nursery, landscape and turf industries. There is truly strength in numbers with this group.
Q: What kind of benefits have you received by taking an active role in statewide and national advocacy initiatives?
A: I have had the benefit of promoting our profession to legislators, so they have a better understanding of what our industry is about and the positive influence we have economically, environmentally and recreationally. It has also expanded the network of not only myself, but of the industry.
Q: What are the main issues that the golf industry will face from regulators in the near future as well as for the long term?
A: Many of the issues are the same throughout the country, but based on the region, priorities are different. Water conservation and quality, fertilizer and pesticide regulations, immigration labor are all on the forefront, and more studies such as the Chesapeake Bay Watershed study will become more prevalent.
Q: What does it mean to you to win the Ohio Turfgrass Foundation 2011 Professional of the Year Award?
A: I truly appreciate the award, but consider it a team award with the staff at Westfield. We have a tremendously talented staff that allows me to be involved with the association. Kyle Smith, Todd Underwood, Billy Christian, Bill Thomas, Brent Cherry and the rest of the staff, I appreciate your hard work and efforts!