Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Miller talks end of LPGA agronomist, beginning of field staff
I've had the good fortune of knowing John Miller, CGCS, soon-to-be former GCSAA LPGA staff agronomist, for a few years now. I even had the pleasure of shadowing him while he was on the job at the 2008 Kraft Nabisco Championship at Mission Hills CC in Rancho Mirage, Calif.
The GCSAA recently announced that beginning in 2011, Miller will have a new job for the association -- he will be the new field staff representative of the Great Lakes region. Consequently, that also means he's on his last few days as the LPGA Tour agronomist.
Golfdom caught up with Miller recently to discuss the change of jobs.
"Sure, I'm sad (about the end of the LPGA position), but we accomplished what we set out to do," Miller said. "It was a sign of the times -- there was no money to fund the position anymore. GCSAA decided not to renew the contract."
Miller said his favorite thing about the LPGA position was being able to work with superintendents around the globe to make their golf courses the best they could be.
"I was an extra set of eyes that could help out," Miller said. "But it turned out I learned as much from (the LPGA Tour superintendents) as they learned from me."
While I talked with Miller, he told me he had missed my call earlier that day because he was at a regional superintendent holiday party. So it's obvious that Miller isn't wasting any time getting started on his new gig.
"I'm really excited about this new position. GCSAA has been working hard on this field staff project, and it seems to be going over well with the membership," Miller said. "I think it'll be fun to take the knowledge that I have -- I'm a past chapter president -- and working with other chapters to see what their challenges are. There are a different set of challenges now than when I was a chapter president -- it's a whole new set of challenges. So I'm sure I'll be taking what worked for chapter A and applying it to chapter B. It'll be a lot of fun, and it'll be a good challenge."
Miller said there's an unusual symmetry between his new role as a field staff representative and his old position with the LPGA, especially here in the early goings.
"It's almost the exact same process as when I started out with the LPGA. It's a lot of introductions and getting the word out," Miller said. "It's the same thing with the chapters -- meeting with chapter presidents and leadership, finding out their needs. It's the same as I did with the LPGA. It's taken an interestingly parallel path."
Regardless of what you think about GCSAA's field staff program (and I am interested in what you think about it, leave me a comment below), let me tell you that Miller is a great hire and a great representative for the association and for superintendents everywhere. Any time you speak with him, you can just tell that the guy is razor sharp. If he wasn't in turf, I think he'd do just fine as a politician. And he's one of the friendliest guys out there, too.
So good luck in your new position with GCSAA, John, we're rooting for you over here at Golfdom!