Hello…to all the golfers out there, my name is Ryan VerNess, new Golf Course Superintendent here at The Wilderness. Periodically, I will be writing to you from our little slice of heaven, the Golf Maintenance Shop, to the right of 18, and discussing and explaining a few things that are going on here at the course. For my first segment, I wanted to introduce myself and talk to you about maintenance staff and the hard work they do.
First, I’d like to say how fortunate I am to be here and excited I am to be a part of this organization. After 16 years in California, I finally found my way back home. Growing up in southern Minnesota (Stewartville) I’ve been around golf my most of my life. Started gripping clubs at the golf store my father worked when I was 12 and by 16 I advanced to grounds crew at Meadow Lakes GC. I can still remember my first day of pumping standing water out of the fairways. I went onto college at UW-River Falls, where I was introduced to sports turf and the Kansas City Chiefs. I spent 3 summers working at their training camp, then upon graduation, I went to work for the Chiefs in Kansas City. After a year in KC, I was offered a job with the Pebble Beach Company (Spyglass Hill). Ascending to assistant superintendent, led me up the road to Bayonet & Black Horse Golf Course, where I spent 3 years as construction superintendent. In 2014, I took over as Director of Golf Course Maintenance, then in 2017 I returned to sports turf with the San Francisco 49ers. After 6 years, Super Bowl 50, College Football Championship, and numerous other major events, it was time for this Minnesota kid to come home. I am extremely excited to be here.
As I said earlier, “new” Golf Course Superintendent, I was very fortunate to start this March, taking over for the only superintendent The Wilderness had ever had, Vince Dodge. Vince spent 17 years here, from dirt to glory and poured his heart and soul into this golf course. I would be remiss not to take a moment and acknowledge all the greatness Vince did here. Hopefully, I can carry on the torch that he not only lit, but maintained for all those years, and wish Vince best in his new adventure.
Vince Dodge 2019
The Dodge Family on Hole #2 - 2003
I want to take a moment to point out the real backbone of the Wilderness GC, the maintenance crew. Many have been here for the better part of 10 years. They start their day at 5:00 in the morning, so that they can be done with our basic everyday activities (mowing greens, tees, and fairways, raking bunkers, cutting cups, and setting tees) before you start your round. While our intentions are to provide each and every one of you the best golfing experience possible without noticing we are here, sometimes we are forced to work amongst the golfers. We use little tricks of the trade to minimize the impact of maintenance on your round, such as working 18 back to 1 so that you only see them once or pulling off to the side while you are playing. So I hope that you can understand that my staff and I have your best intention in mind while still trying to produce the best product that we can.
Grounds Crew 2019
It’s hard for me to really express how excited I am to get going and it seems like Mother Nature is an early fan of me too. Looks like we will have greens cleared in the very near future. Now let's just hope that we can all do our part to kick this virus and get back to playing golf.
Hole #18 - April 6, 2020