NAME | Doug Bechtel
TITLE | Executive Director, Audubon International
HOMETOWN | Bennington, Vermont
What’s a day in the life for you in your job? Finding new ways to improve our service with members, and building relationships with partners and associations. Of course, by the end of the day, it always comes down to personal interaction, trust and respect. The best days are when I can go out on a course to learn about the work superintendents are doing.
What should golf course superintendents know about your organization that they don’t already know? Our credibility and reputation are built on the fact that we are a mission-driven nonprofit environmental organization. Golf is one of the business sectors we work with on sustainability issues, and it is by far the largest membership base for us. We have a re-energized staff and board, and are fully dedicated to assisting the golf industry and golf courses to get excited about and committed to managing more sustainably. This means the standard three-legged dedication to environmental management, economic return and social responsibility. It also means ensuring golf is fun, healthy and attractive to all ages.
When you’re gone from the golf industry, how do you want to be remembered? As someone who behaved with integrity and purpose to help golf improve and persist. I am a mission-driven guy, so it is more about supporting the planet and the game than any one accomplishment.
If you were born 100 years ago, what would you do for a living? Probably an impoverished naturalist, working for a small university researching wildlife habitat.
Who is your hero? Aldo Leopold was my career hero — he inspired me to get into environmental resource management. My dad taught me about respect and integrity — his presence and example are always close.
What’s the best thing about the golf industry? Superintendent camaraderie. They are the unsung hardest workers in the industry. While these professionals are passionate about their work, they also are dedicated to and support each other under any circumstance.
What’s the worst thing about the golf industry? There is still too much managed turf. Most courses could reduce turf acreage, reduce maintenance costs, conserve water and increase native habitat. Designed well, these changes won’t impact the quality of the game, and could improve the overall outdoor experience.
What golf course can’t you wait to get on and why? Bandon Dunes (Bandon, Oregon) and/or Harbour Town (Hilton Head, South Carolina). Or any other seashore coastline course.
Describe golf course superintendents in one word? Tireless. (At least that is how they behave, if not how they feel.)
Who would you rather play golf with –– Arnie or Jack? Why? Arnie. I grew up on lemonade tea.
If you were a super hero, who would you be and why? DataMan. My superpower is the ability to instantly collect, digest, analyze and effectively communicate science results to the general public. And have them say, “Thank you, DataMan!”
What do you like to do away from your job? Hiking, birding, paddling or any other form of working out in the natural world.
What is your all-time favorite song? Disney’s “Let it Go” from “Frozen” — oh wait, that is my daughter’s favorite. But why is it stuck in my head 24 hours a day? Oh that’s right, because it is my daughter’s favorite.
What’s your favorite movie and why? “Bull Durham.”
Speaking of movies, who’s your favorite character from “Caddyshack”? For pure comic brilliance, Al Czervik (Rodney Dangerfield). Never was a movie more perfectly matched to a comedic actor. I am laughing right now thinking about his lines and delivery.