Action County: Derf Soller
Derf Soller takes his job seriously. As the superintendent of the Breckenridge Golf Club and the manager of a nearly $1 million annual budget, he has to.Soller upped his game recently by gaining professional certification in his field. The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) announced in May that Soller was officially certified under its auspices. Approximately 2,000 golf superintendents worldwide are certified by the GCSAA.Soller sought out the distinction to further his professional development.”I’m a life learner,” he said. “I thought it was an important step in my career to show that I’m not just here going through the motions. I want to learn new things so that we (as a golf course) can continue to improve not only what we do, but how we do it.”What are your duties as a golf course superintendent?”My responsibilities are the care and maintenance of the whole property. I deal with agronomy, hiring, crew training, the budget and capital improvement stuff. We also maintain the (Gold Run) Nordic center during the winter.”
How did you get your start in the industry?”I was hired by the Breck course as a seasonal worker in 1983. I started off dragging hoses around and mowing grass, then I kind of got the bug. I had a lot of chemistry in my background and just gravitated toward the occupation.”What is your history with Jack Nicklaus?”I was hired by his agronomist in ’95 to help build the Old Works Golf Course near Anaconda, Mont. It was a huge project, I was up there for three years. Jack would come in once in a while for site visits and I picked him up for the course’s grand opening. He was a hero of my mom and dad’s growing up – always the household favorite. When I got to meet him and work for him, it was pretty cool. He’s an amazing guy.”
Do you play much golf yourself?”I try to play about once a week. I think it’s important to get out there and see the course from the golfer’s perspective. It really makes a difference.”What’s the best course you’ve ever played or seen?”I absolutely love (Breck’s) golf course. It has a great design and location and you never get sick of playing it. … But there are some courses on my list that I hope to play some day. Pebble Beach is one of them and I would also love to get to Scotland.”How did the nickname Derf come about?
“It’s Fred backwards. I’m officially named after my father, Fred, but my mom didn’t want me to be called Freddie, or Junior, or anything, so she called me Derf. … It started when I was a toddler or maybe even earlier. I had one organic chemistry professor in college that refused to call people anything other than their official name. Other than that, everybody’s pretty much always called me Derf.”Derf SollerDecade Born: 1950sFavorite Team: Denver BroncosFavorite Athlete: Jack NicklausFastball or Curveball: Fastball
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