DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR
BURNET — When Delaware Springs Municipal Golf Course superintendent Jason Kelley learned his peers selected him as the Central Texas superintendent of the year, he knew it was an honor earned not just by himself but by his crew of eight.
“My guys are the ones who deserve this award,” Kelley said. “They’re the ones who really got this award. I couldn’t do it without them. They certainly carry a lot of pride in what they do.”
The Central Texas Golf Superintendents Association members on Dec. 3 voted Kelley the top area superintendent. With several hundred superintendents, assistant superintendents and vendors who make up the area, including those who work on courses in the San Antonio and Austin areas that host Professional Golf Association events, Kelley admitted he was surprised but grateful.
“These are my peers who voted on this,” he said. “It’s a total honor. They are some of the toughest critics out there because they know what you go through, what you do right and what you don’t do right.”
The award encompasses both private and public courses. As a public, or municipal course, Kelley and his crew must keep the greens, fairways and other parts of the course (all the outside pieces) on par with the most prestigious private clubs and courses around that often have much larger budgets then the city of Burnet-owned Delaware Springs. And based on the recent honor, other Central Texas superintendents approve of what Kelley and his crew are doing at Delaware Springs.
Kelley grew up around golf. His grandfather Cliff Kelley was well known in Austin-area golf circles. And his father, Mike Kelley, grew up with PGA legend and golf course designer Ben Crenshaw.
When Jason Kelley decided to pursue degrees that would hopefully land him a job in the golf course industry, his father stood beside him.
“He was the one who was so supportive of this journey,” Kelley said.
Kelley earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degree from Tarleton State University in Stephenville. The Master of Science in agronomy landed him a job as the superintendent at a Llano golf course. While he brought a tremendous amount of agronomy and related knowledge to the job, he quickly discovered that as the superintendent of a small Texas town course, he needed to develop many other skills, including mechanics. After a few years at Llano, Kelley accepted an assistant superintendent position at the Austin Golf Club.
While it might sound like a demotion, the money was a bit better. But he also found himself under the tutelage of the club’s superintendent, Doug Petersan. The Austin Golf Club superintendent is one of the most highly respected people in the industry, garnering much praise and recognition. Petersan also has been inducted into the Nebraska Golf Hall of Fame.
“He was the one who mentored me,” Kelley said. “He took me under his wing, let me learn by doing things wrong but always showing me the way. I certainly could not have done it without him.”
After learning quite a bit from Petersan, Delaware Springs golf pro Doug Phipps approached Kelley about taking the superintendent position in Burnet.
“And, as they say, the rest is history,” Kelley said.
While he’s grateful for the honor and recognition from his peers, he said one of the best things about his job is getting up every day and looking forward to coming to work.
“I’m probably one of the few people who can say that,” he said.
Kelley and his wife, Paula, have four children: Alexis, 23, Michael, 21, Jordan, 19, and Mackenzie, 17.
For more information on Delaware Springs Municipal Golf Course, go to www.delawaresprings.com or call (512) 756-8471.