Senior David Zapata Knows his Turf
A scholarship for David Zapata, Harvard, Ill., served as confirmation; he chose the right major. The golf and turf management senior transferred to the University of Minnesota Crookston after he received a mailing from the Office of Admissions.
“I was a business major and studying online at another institution, but when I saw golf and turf management in the listing of what was offered on the Crookston campus, I was more than a little interested,” Zapata says.
He has never looked back. After playing soccer through high school and both basketball and baseball in elementary school, Zapata asked himself, why not be around sports all the time? A degree in golf and turf management would make that possible and Zapata never lets the unknown stand in his way.
Last summer he completed his internship working for the Texas Rangers. When information on the internship came across his advisor Associate Professor Kristie Walker’s desk and he learned about it, there was not a moment’s hesitation to apply.
“I learned a little bit of everything,” he says. “From top dressing, working on the pitcher’s mound and home plate to irrigation and aeration, I got to work on all of it. My internship was a great learning experience.” He also enjoyed meeting a few of the players and watching Rangers’ baseball.
This spring, he traveled to Orlando, Florida, to compete in the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America Collegiate Turf Bowl. His teammates were golf and turf management majors Cody Pamperin, a senior from Shakopee, Minn.; Jacob Butcher, a junior from Crookston, Minn.; and Ben Koisti, a sophomore from Lake Norden, S.D. Fifty-eight teams were tested on their knowledge of weeds, diseases, insects, grasses, seeds, equipment, pesticides, business practices and turfgrass growth and management.
A $1000 scholarship from the North Central Turf Grass Association was awarded to Zapata during their annual conference in early March. The purpose of the North Central Turf Grass Association is to promote the turf grass industry, to encourage and support the further study and research of turf, to gather and distribute this information, and to represent this group on matters of policy regarding the turf grass industry.
One thing Zapata says he is missing is experience in the area of golf, but he already has solved the missing piece of this puzzle. Following graduation, he will continue his passion for sports turf working at The Valley Club in Hailey, Idaho, a beautiful course and private club located in the Wood River Valley.
“I needed to add golf course management to my experience, and I believe if you want to learn something, you need to put yourself right in it,” Zapata says. “I am excited to move to Idaho to take on my next challenge.”
Zapata hopes to one day manage a multi-field sports complex after gaining valuable experience from a wide variety of turfgrass environments. He will be ready when the time comes because he will have experience in a variety of climates and environments from which to draw, and he will have the degree he needs to make it happen.