Last Update :1/30/2014
Bobby Jenkins of Winchester is 2014 Presidents Award Winner
Jenkins Wins Presidents Award for Lifetime Service
Bobby Jenkins of Winchester, VA is the winner of the 2013 VGCSA Presidents Award for Lifetime Service. The VGCSA’s highest award is "to honor those superintendent pioneers who were instrumental in state and local affairs, but who may no longer be actively involved in the VGCSA. Qualifications include twenty years or more of service to the turfgrass industry, at least ten of which were as a superintendent". On all accounts, Jenkins has earned the distinction.
Jenkins has become known as the heart and soul of the Shenandoah Valley Turfgrass Association, one of five local organizations comprising the VGCSA. But wasn’t a golfer as a youngster. Growing up in Winchester, Jenkins knew little about golf until around age 14, when the old farm across the street was sold to build a golf course. He was curious about the project and would often watch what was going on, until the construction men ran him off. But then the owner (Lewis Lamp) got to know him and took him under his wing. Jenkins’ mother was a single parent, and the owner treated him like a son. His first job was chipping rocks with an iron tool, but he quickly learn golf operations by spending time in the golf shop, and he also learned how to mow greens. In fact, he learned to get his driver’s license from driving a tractor!
After high school, Jenkins entered the Air Force in 1968 and was stationed in Southeast Asia. At the time, President Nixon was trying to draw down troops, and servicemen with a good reason might get reassigned early. The course owner back home wrote a note to his commanding officer, telling him he needed Jenkins back home as an Assistant Superintendent. That letter facilitated him release from the military about six months earlier than expected.
Jenkins next move was to go to work for Carper’s Valley in 1972, where he learned from Basil Cline, but his true mentor was Lewis Lamp. He attended the VTC Conference at Shannon Green in Fredericksburg (ironically, on virtually the same property where today’s conference is held) – he learned a lot and went back to Carper’s and continued to improve conditions. In 1976 the superintendent quit, and Jenkins was offered the job. He would end up investing 20 years in Carper’s Valley, 1972-1992.
Then a nice job opened at Cress Creek Country Club in Shepherdstown, WV, and Jenkins took the superintendent job in 1992. He was there until 2000.
Then a developer in Winchester unveiled plans to build a new course, Rock Harbor. The owner knew Jenkins from way back, and he really wanted Jenkins on the project from the outset. So at age 54, Jenkins did the construction and grow-in in April of 2000. He remains at Rock Harbor, and they are currently building another 9 holes to take the facility up to 36 holes.
“I never knew what a golf course was until I was 14,” said Jenkins. But he excelled quickly and lettered on his high school golf team and went to the regional tournament. He still maintains interest and skill in the game, carrying a handicap of 13.
“I learned the profession through hard knocks,” Jenkins remarked. “I did not have formal training, but I did have Lewis Lamp teaching me how to diagnose diseases.” Jenkins often called Lamp “Grump,” because he rarely gave praise, making sure everything was done just right. But Jenkins loved him as a father figure, who was basically a country boy who made good – Lamp built the second nine of Winchester CC, as well as Shenandoah Valley GC and Bowling Green CC.
Jenkins counts Lamp, Mike Burkholder and Jack McClenaghan as his primary mentors. He loved to hear “the big boys” talk and he would take it all in. Every year at the VTC Conference, he would sit up front and listen carefully. Many others would be sitting in the back. He fell in love with the profession.
Jenkins has always served his fellow superintendents, and he was a co-founder of the SVTA in 1982. At the time, most guys were members of the Middle Atlantic Association of Golf Course Superintendents, but they wanted their own local group, so they wouldn’t have to travel “over the mountain” to meetings. He was the very first Vice President and became President in 1985-86. Shortly thereafter, he was asked to become Treasurer, a post he still has today. In addition, Jenkins has served his community as a volunteer firefighter and EMT for 41 years.
Jenkins has some good advice to young people entering the profession. “Listen to your peers and don’t have a know-it-all attitude,” he said. “Book sense is good, but common sense is important. You have to get your hands dirty and do labor work. What I learned 20 or 30 years ago still works and you need to have basic skills.”
When asked about being honored by his peers with this award, Jenkins remarked, “It is humbling – I would have never expected to get an award like this – an old country boy like me – this is fantastic!”
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