NCGA Golf

Summer 2019

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J avier Campos went from pick- ing out men's suits he was trying to sell at J.C. Penney's to picking Poa annua off greens at the California Golf Club in San Fran- cisco. Having started at age 17 as seasonal help at Cal Club, Campos went on to become Cal Club's super- intendent at the age of 30. Campos now heads a crew of 24 and never leaves his office without an ice pick in his pocket – pity the Poa annua. Campos was a greenkeeper when his superintendent Thomas Bastis and architect Kyle Phillips launched a ren- ovation in 2006 of Cal Club to return the fairways, greens and bunkers to the "golden age" when the club first opened in 1926. But the course imag- ined was more than returning to tradi- tion, and it is one Campos maintains: a change of culture as the members walk more, pushing trolleys on a layout now renowned for fast and firm fair- ways devoid of cart paths. "We've reduced golf cart rounds to less than 14%. I don't know if they (the members) are fitter for it but that's because we haven't stopped serving wine," says Campos, adding that even though last winter's rainfall was 32 inches, the club was able to stay open every day. Cal Club's 400 plus mem- bers and guests log about 25,000 rounds annually. As for Campos' goals at Cal Club, "I just want to be able to give the mem- bers a course they want to be proud of," Campos said, noting that it's a tough neighborhood with Olympic Club, San Francisco Golf Club, Lake Merced Golf Club and 2020 PGA Championship host TPC Harding Park within a 10-mile radius. "It takes hard work to get there." Hard work has long been empha- sized in the Campos family. Javier is one of six children, three of whom were born in San Juan de Los Lagos, Jalisco, Mexico. In fact, while his father was in the U.S. working in con- struction, his mother struggled to keep Javier alive as an 8-month-old when he contracted a bacterial infection. "The doctors actually told my mom I might not make it," says Campos, adding that he is grateful and that he sees every day at work as "payback." Most of that work now involves accounting and paperwork, but Campos looks forward to being on the course and improving the fescue fairways, string-trimming the grass around the famed Alister MacKenzie bunkers and making sure that no Poa annua catches the eye of players. Education after graduating Jefferson High in Daly City wasn't in the game plan for Campos, who joined the local union and became a full-time employee at Cal Club, but he has continued his studies, earning an agronomy certifica- tion at Rutgers in 2012, an associate's degree in business from Foothill Com- munity College and is currently enrolled in business management classes at California State University East Bay in Hayward. His wife, Madeline, is a neu- rosurgery quality and safety program manager at University of California San Francisco Medical Center, and they have a 3-year-old daughter with a son on the way in September. At Cal Club, Campos is admired equally for his leadership and devo- tion. The club's General Manager Glenn Smickley still marvels at how Campos aced the interview for the superintendent's job. "He had the right amount of con- fidence without sounding arrogant and he had a vision for the future," Smickley says. "It was one of the best interviews I've ever witnessed. He absolutely killed it." Campos has come a long way from the time he briefly left the Cal Club to seek a degree in kinesiology and work at a fitness center. But he soon returned to the business of "growing grass" and the mentoring of Bastis, becoming first assistant and filling big shoes when Bastis moved on to the PGA Tour as an agronomist two years ago. "Javier thought the grass was greener on the other side," Bastis says, "but he found how green the grass can really be." Cal Club Members Walk Firmer Fairways Thanks to Campos By Alex Hulanicki BRETT HOCHSTEIN THE SUPER: Javier Campos 34 SUMMER 2019 | NCGA.ORG

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