Adam Charles graduated from Clemson as a Turfgrass major. He is now the head Golf Course Superintendent at The Preserve at Verdae and is the newly elected President of the Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association. He was recently featured in a magazine that can be viewed here: http://digital.carolinasgcsa.org/HTML5/Carolinas-Golf-Course-Superintendent-Association-Carolinas-Green-January-February-2016. Learn more about his life after Clemson below!
How did you choose Clemson?
I chose Clemson because of the outstanding reputation of all aspects of the turfgrass curriculum and program. Some of the smartest people in the field teach and perform research at Clemson. So when my most respected mentors recommended I go there it was an easy choice.
How did you choose your major?
I would almost say my major chose me. I was introduced to the game of golf as a child in East Tennessee since my family belonged to a local country club. When my family relocated to South Carolina we joined another country club. The golf course superintendent (a Clemson graduate) was our neighbor. In high school I began working part-time at the golf course. After high school, I attended Francis Marion University and studied business administration and quickly determined it was not a good fit. This realization helped confirm my passion for a career as a golf course superintendent and I transferred to Clemson.
What is the most important lesson or experience you had in college? Learning the lesson that relationships are everything was probably the most important. It's amazing how quickly your classmates and professors become your support network, your Clemson family. You develop bonds that help you through your time at college, but also carry on beyond graduation. Some of my strongest ties in my profession today are with people I either met at school or who are fellow Clemson alumni.
How did your education at Clemson prepare you for your career path?
As I said earlier, some of the smartest people in the field of horticulture and turfgrass are part of the faculty at Clemson. So I feel like I got head start on a lot of people in other parts of the country just by attending class. I left Clemson with a lot of confidence because of the quality of the education I had. That confidence meant I was never afraid to admit what I didn't know. That mindset is as true today as when I left Clemson.
What advice do you have for current students or alumni hoping to pursue a career in your field?
Take advantage of your Clemson network through opportunities that give you direct experience in your field. Being a Clemson student will open up all kinds of possibilities and you should make the most of as many of those opportunities as possible. Don't stay in your comfort zone. Getting experience at a range of facilities and with a range of leadership types will help you identify the path that suits you best. Lastly, never underestimate the value of being punctual and saying please and thank you!
What is the most significant thing that's happened to you since graduating?
Marrying my wife Amanda (a fellow Clemson grad) and the birth of my children-- I've been very blessed. Professionally, I've also been fortunate. I've worked for and learned from some excellent mentors, hosted a PGA Tour event, received some awards for management at my facility and been recognized with honors for environmental and conservation practices at The Preserve at Verdae. In November, I was elected president of the Carolinas Golf Course Superintendents Association, which has about 1,800 members and an annual budget of well over $1 million. I'm grateful and honored to be able to serve my peers in this role.
This has been edited for length and clarity.