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CRR golf superintendent wins award

Superintendent of the Year


by: STEPHANIE RODERICK - Richard Jensen, CRR golf course superintendent, was recognized as 'Superintendent of the Year.'While attending the Oregon Golf Course Superintendents Association annual meeting on May 22, Richard Jensen, 45, Crooked River Ranch golf pro, received a wonderful birthday surprise as he was awarded recognition as Superintendent of the Year.

The event, held at the Willamette Valley Country Club in Canby, had 60 attendees, but only Jensen was honored with the award.

A resident of the Ranch since 2000, Jensen has served as the golf course superintendent for the past 14 years.

Jensen began his career in 1986 at Oakridge Country Club in Utah, where he spent two seasons as a grounds crew member before moving on to a property management company at the age of 19.

Born and raised in Utah, Jensen moved at 21 to Oregon, where he began working for Overland Property Management as the maintenance supervisor managing the maintenance end of a 440-unit apartment complex.

Jensen said he “kind of got out of doing the property management for a couple of years, then fell into the assistant's position at Hound Hollow Golf Center in Wood Village,” just east of Gresham, from 1991-2000.

In 2000, he applied for the La Grande Country Club superintendent's position, but didn't get it. However, Scott Cravens, then the golf pro for Crooked River Ranch, called the La Grande Country Club and asked, “Who's the best guy you didn't hire?” Jensen was the guy.

The rest is history as Jensen moved out to the Ranch in 2000 and has been employed by the Ranch as the superintendent ever since.

"I can pinpoint the day that I knew that this is what I wanted to do," recalled Jensen, who began playing golf at the age of 12. "I was out setting up one morning, the sun was just peaking over the mountains, the birds were chirping and I just kind of went, 'You know what, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.'"

To establish a candidates' pool for the Superintendent of the Year award, the OGCSA sends out announcements looking for nominations. This year, Pat Huffer, golf pro for Crooked River Ranch, nominated Jensen, and then put out letters for support from Crooked River Ranch Golf Club membership holders. There were three other nominees.

After receiving between 17-20 support nominations, Huffer then submitted them to the executive director at the OGCSA, where they were turned over to the awards committee, which includes the current president, past president and another member that has served for at least 15 years.

Jensen, who currently serves on the OGCSA Board as vice president, said that there was some discussion on whether a seated board member could win the award. The board president spoke up and said that as far as he was concerned, "anyone who got 17 nominations and the pros, has got it in my book."

As the superintendent of the year, he does not win a trophy or a large check or even a raise, but Jensen said, "You win the recognition; it's an honor and very humbling by the amount of response from the members at Crooked River Ranch."

Jensen said that people often tell him he's doing a great job, "but to actually see it in writing is rather gratifying."

"This award is as much for my crew as it is for me," said Jensen. "I can give them the direction, but these are the guys that pretty much do all the work out there."

Jensen said he has a "fantastic crew," that consists of three full-time members who are with him all year-round: Kevin Anderson for the past 18 years, Skip Nadig for 10 years, and Jensen's assistant, Rick Rohach, who has been with him for six years. They also employ eight seasonal workers, three of whom are part time, April through October.

When asked what it takes to keep the golf course up, Jensen said, "a lot of dedication and a lot of hours. You've got to get the right agronomic programs in there and stay with them."

Currently the Ranch Golf Club memberships hover near 280-300 full-time pass holders, who played 36,500 rounds of golf last year.

In 2007, he said, before the "economy crashed, we did around 46,000 rounds. And we still do as many rounds or more than any course in Oregon."

Weather permitting, golfers can use the course 12 months a year — unless there is snow cover or ice, he said.

If you've seen Jensen around the course, you usually don't see him without his trusted pal, his black lab named "Jake." Jensen got Jake six years ago from the animal shelter in Madras "with the intent of him being the avian control specialist," he said, noting that he expected Jake to chase geese off the course, "until they have babies and we can't chase them off anymore."

Dogs are very common for superintendents in the golf industry, he said, and there's even a calendar to recognize them.




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