Story and Photos By Jason Bruno
We met Taylor Andersen during the week of the 2019 U.S Open out in Monterey, and immediately realized he was a rising star in the turf industry. Young and confident with exceptional people skills, Taylor was obviously already a valuable asset as Jeff Markow’s right hand man at Cypress Point Club. At the time we talked golf (he’s an avid player), life and a bit about his role at CPC. Just over a year later, he had become the Superintendent at A.W Tillinghast’s Bay Area gem – San Francisco Golf Club, all by the age of 30. Nearly two years into his role at SFGC (at age 32), we caught up with TA in San Francisco this spring and decided a proper Q&A was in order . . .
LinksNation: Can you tell us how you became interested in Agronomy and a career in the golf industry
Taylor Andersen: My Father owns and operates a Landscaping business. At a young age, I quickly found that I loved spending time outdoors and worked alongside him a lot. My Mother has a photo of me asleep on the riding lawn mower in my Dads Lap, so I started quite early. This was a great start to learning the ins and outs of landscape Maintenance. Growing up I have always had a love for golf. I started playing at a young age and found myself spending quite a bit of time at the golf course. It wasn’t until after High School that I started to lose interest in the Landscape business side. I ended up applying at the local Country Club and from there on I haven’t looked back.
LN: You went to Penn State, which has such a long lineage of legendary Superintendents and Greenskeepers, what is it about the program that turns out such successful turf professionals?
TA: Being a Land Grant School It seems to me everything Penn State does revolves around something to do with Agronomics, Agriculture, Geology, and much more. Everyone speaks the same language. The professors at Penn State have been the forefathers for much of what we Turf Professionals do daily. I feel this has created some of the best networking in the business and we all stick together.
LN: Before you came to San Francisco Golf Club, you spent 7 years at perhaps the most beautiful place on earth – Cypress Point Club under the leadership of Jeff Markow. What can you tell us about Jeff’s influence on you as a person and professional?
TA: Being able to foreshadow, learn and take notes under Jeff really gave me the chance to start building my management style. Jeff cares about his people and it shows. Treat your staff how you would want to be treated. Just because you’re the boss doesn’t mean you can’t ask them how their day is, or how their family is doing. When you show you care, your staff will take care of you. This is the greatest attribute a leader can have and it’s truly evident at Cypress Point.
LN: I know you’re an avid golfer, do you have a favorite hole or spot on the course at Cypress, either as an employee or as a player?
TA: I would have to say my favorite spot to be as an employee at CPC would be 16 tee in the morning. You can’t beat it. As a player, I have always loved #5 (below). It’s a great par 5 up the hill where every club in your bag is going to get used.
LN: And at SFGC?
TA: At SFGC # 11 tee is a great spot. It’s in the middle of the golf course and you can see every hole from the tee. As a player, #12 is a great example of some of the greatest bunkering on the planet. It really shows A.W. Tillinghast’s work.
LN: What are the differences in climate and conditions from Monterey to S.F?
TA: San Francisco has consistently more fog, is colder, and has more wind. The Monterey Peninsula is also foggy and cold, but San Francisco proves to be a bit more challenging.
LN: Speaking of challenges, what is your biggest challenge within the 190 acres at SFGC (water, staff/labor, climate, etc.)
TA: The biggest challenge within the 190 acres of SFGC would have to be the 190 acres!! We have 50 Acres of fairways and approaches alone. Just mowing is a huge battle for us. When you throw in the fog and heavy dew, clippings become a nightmare even while using PGRs. There is no such thing as a dry cut here.
LN: How many rounds a year are played at SFGC?
TA: SFGC approximately has 12-16k rounds/year.
LN: After nearly a decade of experience in the industry, is there anything you would tell your 22 year-old self as he came out of Penn State heading into the turf field?
TA: A career in turf is a marathon not a sprint. Focus on what “you believe is quality of life.” Also, public golf vs private club golf is important too, as they are completely different.
LN: Any future projects or improvements you can divulge that you and the team are working on at SFGC?
TA: This summer has been busy as we renovated our driving range and the practice tee. This included adding 200ft of netting at 70ft tall. We also started work on re-leveling tees by re-using the same sod. More to come in 2023 . . .