“I have had both turf and nonturf people serve on my crew and as my assistant before. I primarily managed baseball fields and believe that it could go either way. Looking back it was almost 50-50. I, myself, am a nonturf person. I have no formal education in turfgrass management. I learned through surrounding myself with people smarter than, by relying on my vendors, asking many questions, reading about turf trends and issues, staying heavily involved in the turf industry on the golf and sports turf side, and the school of hard knocks. The “turf ” people have furthered my education and served as great resources. When I hired “nonturf ” individuals, I made sure they had a background in baseball. Being sport specific with my nonturf hires has been great and I wouldn’t trade them for the world as most have progressed into excellent sports turf managers. I believe it is just as important to understand the game we are providing management for as well as the sports turf we provide.”

CHRIS BALL
Head Groundskeeper, Coolray Field (Gwinnett, Georgia)

My assistant and second assistant both have a college degree, neither of them being in turf. They are both fantastic co-workers and are hardworking and dedicated in all aspects of field maintenance. I’ve found that in the past, some, though certainly not all, turf people have been mostly focused on the grass. In baseball, the grass is just a small piece of the puzzle.

WES GANOBCIK
Head Groundskeeper Huntington Park (Columbus, Ohio)

“The primary advantage is that they should have baseline knowledge of the profession that could potentially accelerate the person’s ability to fit into the structure or vision for your operation. A disadvantage is having someone with firm beliefs in practices or procedures that might not coincide with your approach. Either way, maintaining an open mind and communicating will be beneficial for both employer and employee to learn and grow as a team.”

BRETT TANNER, CSFM
Assistant Groundskeeper, Paul Brown Stadium (Cincinnati, Ohio)

“The position certainly dictates the need for a turf person or not. Unless the position calls for turfgrass-related decision-making and problem-solving, I have found baseball people to be the most beneficial for us rather than turf people. In my experience, having people with an advanced knowledge on how the game is played and how the ball is supposed to bounce carries greater value than possessing a foundation of turfgrass knowledge. However, when decision-making and problem-solving are priorities, I think a turf person is a must. The combination of the two would be ideal.”

JOEY FITZGERALD
Superintendent, Camelback Ranch (Phoenix, Arizona)