EICC tees off new course meeting needs of landscapers and golf courses

John Deere Classic

It’s a constant challenge at TPC Deere Run and especially during the John Deere Classic to keep the fairways and greens in perfect condition.

A team of people pull some long hours in the lead up to the event to make the course stand out.

An issue it and a lot of other golf courses as well as landscaping businesses have been finding people with the know-how and willingness to spend the time outside to do the work.

During this classic, Eastern Iowa Community Colleges is looking at all the work on the grounds as a way to help introduce and gain interest in their new turf and landscaping programs.

It’s an in-demand career for businesses improving yards and maintaining golf courses and sports fields.

TPC Deere Run Director of Golf Course Management Alex Stuedemann said, “For us, it’s a 12-month process.”

A full year all about one event.

Grounds crew member Cody Hull said, “I used to watch it on TV.”

But this year, Cody Hull is one of the people scattered out on these greens getting every blade just right.

Hull said, “I thought it was just mowing the greens. No. We’re testing the moistures. He’s looking at the fullness of the greens. We’re looking at the ball speed.”

Cody started as an intern at Deere Run this past spring and now works as a member of the grounds crews.

Hull said, “I’ve always been interested since I was a kid when I was doing private landscaping.”

But finding people like Cody who are interested in these careers has been getting harder for Deere Runs Director of Golf Course Management.

Stuedemann said, “Over the last ten years, a lot of students turning away from this industry. It’s been very difficult to find talented, eager people.”

Which is why Deere Run is like other area businesses who deal with turf and landscaping taking an interest in Eastern Iowa Community Colleges new program.

Because as Cody said, it’s not just mowing.

Turf and Landscaping Management Instructor Shane Mairet said, “Irrigation, soils and then you have the chemical aspects, so there’s a lot of different components.”

Turf and Landscaping Management Instructor Megan Mills said, “You need to have good soil nutrition and you have to know exactly what plants need and from there we go into the customer service aspect.”

While turning the course might look like an art, it’s really a science.

“Plumbing, electrical, a lot of hands-on items but also with science. There’s a lot of science integrated into what we do, whether that be soil science. Plant physiology, disease vectors, insects,” said Stuedemann.

For Cody, this makes it’s a lot easier for him to get this education. Schools with a similar program are more than an hour away.

Hull said, “Count me in. I want to be the first one in. This is really what I want to do and I can stay home here and use scholarships.”

Area businesses like Deere Run are providing input on the needs and materials for the program.

It starts this fall at the Muscatine Campus.

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