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Meet KemperSports’ Agronomy Advisory Committee

KemperSports facilities pride themselves on providing premier course conditions by utilizing precise operating standards and environmentally friendly practices. After all, course upkeep and maintenance is a driving factor of creating and maintaining loyal customers, satisfied members and returning guests.

Part of this success is directly from the expertise of our Agronomy Advisory Committee (AAC). Led by five regional agronomists and two home office industry veterans, the AAC provides agronomy education, training and support for KemperSports superintendents, general managers, clients and regional operations teams nationwide through a multitude of resources, including:

  • Education – The AAC hosts monthly webinars to provide training and highlight product insights.
  • Equipment Evaluation & Purchase Tool – This tool helps track, grade and evaluate the repair and/or replacement of current equipment. It also assists in identifying what equipment to buy and when to buy it.
  • Yearly Agronomic Facility Reports – This all-inclusive, annual agronomic report template helps put together a report on a course’s current condition.
  • Monthly Agronomic Client Report – The monthly agronomic report provides additional details regarding the course and grounds operation.
  • KemperSports Mentorship Program – The mentorship program connects superintendents with other superintendents of varying expertise and backgrounds to stay up to date on trends and learn from each other.
  • Standard Operating Procedures – These procedures establish policies consistent with expectations and budget compliance, including plans for mowing, watering, seeding and more.

Meet the Team

  • Keith Hanley, Senior Vice President of Operations: Keith Hanley brings more than 30 years of industry experience developing and operating golf facilities worldwide, including significant involvement in the construction of 12 golf clubs in the U.S., Asia and Central America. Keith is a Class A member of the PGA of America and joined KemperSports in 2009. He currently oversees more than 25 properties across the country, many of them Top 100 facilities such as Streamsong Resort and Big Cedar Lodge.
  • Vince Juarez, Vice President of Operations: Vince Juarez is a 20-year-plus PGA member and industry veteran. Since becoming a PGA member in 2000, Vince has earned PGA certifications for teaching and coaching, general management, golf operations and player development. He joined KemperSports in 2012 as general manager of Fox Lake (Ill.) Country Club, earning the organization’s James R. Seely General Manager of the Year award in 2014. In 2019, he joined an elite group of PGA members (less than 400 out of 28,000 PGA professionals) by achieving PGA Master Professional status. Vince is also the recipient of the Illinois PGA Horton Smith Award (2019) and Illinois Illinois PGA Bill Strausbaugh Award (2020). In his role as Regional Operations Executive, Vince has oversight responsibility for a portfolio of daily fee facilities throughout Illinois and Michigan.
  • Dave Groelle, Regional Agronomist: Dave Groelle is 24-year KemperSports staffer who has served as head golf course superintendent at Royal Melbourne Country Club (Long Grove, Ill.) for the past 21 years. His accolades include 2015 KemperSports Superintendent of the Year and best conditioned KemperSports Private Club Award in 2016, 2017 and 2018. Dave is a past president of the Midwest Association of Golf Course Superintendents (MAGCS) and was MAGCS board member from 2010 – 2014. Dave’s construction and grow-in experience includes The Glen Club, Prairie Club and Royal Melbourne. Additionally, Dave brings experience in bunker renovation, including a full bunker overhaul at Royal Melbourne and an implementation of Billy Bunkers at Harborside International.
  • Chris Bien, Regional Agronomist: The 2021 KemperSports Superintendent of the Year, Chris Bien currently serves as the head superintendent at Desert Willow Golf Resort (Palm Desert, Calif.) and board director of the Hi-Lo Desert Chapter of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA). Prior to Desert Willow, Chris was an assistant superintendent at La Quinta Resort for two years and spent six years as superintendent of the private Nicklaus and Weiskopf facilities at PGA West. A graduate of Cornell University’s Turfgrass Maintenance Program in 1996, Chris is an expert in several different turfgrasses, including Bermuda, Bent and Rye. Chris owns extensive experience in golf course construction, specifically tee and green renovations.
  • Eric Johnson, Regional Agronomist: Eric Johnson is the director of agronomy at Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash. Prior to Chambers Bay, Eric served as the superintendent of Bandon Dunes and Old MacDonald at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort. He’s hosted several USGA championships, including the U.S. Open, U.S. Amateur, Curtis Cup, U.S. Mid-Amateur and Men’s & Women’s Amateur Public Links during his career at KemperSports. Eric holds a Bachelor of Science in Turfgrass Management from Oregon State University.
  • Blayne Sparks, Regional Agronomist: Blayne Sparks is the head superintendent at The Wilderness at Lake Jackson (Texas). A 2005 graduate of Louisiana State University with a Bachelor of Science in Turfgrass Management, Blayne served as assistant superintendent during the grow-in at The Wilderness at Lake Jackson before being promoted to head superintendent in 2007. In 2008, the facility earned KemperSports’ Facility of the Year Award, and in 2017 Blayne earned KemperSports Superintendent of the Year honors. Blayne’s experience across Texas makes him widely regarded as a turfgrass expert, including several varieties of Bermuda grass, and led him to being president of the South Texas Chapter of the GCSAA.
  • Jason Pierce, Regional Agronomist: Jason Pierce is a 21-year KemperSports staffer currently serving as the director of agronomy at Golden Horseshoe Golf Club in Williamsburg, Va. A graduate of Rutgers Turfgrass Program and a GCSAA Class A Superintendent, Jason’s background includes three different course construction and grow-in projects. He has also worked on course renovation projects with renowned architects P.B. Dye (Dye Designs) and Brian Ault and Tom Clark (Ault, Clark & Associates). Jason has established two facilities as Audubon Certified and has served as an advisory committee member for the River Friendly Program of New Jersey, an environmental stewardship program for businesses.

The KemperSports AAC currently helps more than 130 facilities across our portfolio of brands. How can we help your course? Click here to get in touch and let us know how the AAC can provide support for you.

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