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Members In The Field - Jay Eccleton, CGCS

Michigan Turfgrass Foundation member, Jay Eccleton, CGCS has been involved in golf his entire life. At the age of three, his parents purchased a nine hole golf course in Stockbridge, Michigan. He spent his childhood working at the course and learning many of the lessons needed later in a career in golf.

1995 Michigan State University — Bachelor of Arts in Crop and Soil Sciences

1995-2000 Assistant Superintendent — Travis Pointe CC, Ann Arbor, MI

2000-2006 Superintendent — The Emerald St. Johns, MI

2011 & 2012 MiGCSA President

2006-2015 Director of Golf Course Operations — The Emerald St. Johns, MI

2015- Present Site Manager — North Central Research Station, Agroliquid St.Johns, MI

After graduating High School in 1990, Jay enrolled at Ferris State University’s Professional Golf Management program. It did not take Jay long to realize a career on the “inside looking out” was not where he wanted to be. He made the decision to leave Ferris State University in 1992 and enrolled at Saginaw Valley State University for a semester while working on a small family golf course in

Saginaw.. In 1993 he transferred to Michigan State University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Crop and Soil Science, with an emphasis in Turfgrass in 1995.

During his last year at MSU, Jay accepted a position as the Assistant Superintendent at Travis Pointe Country Club, working under John Seefeldt, CGCS. “John was and always will be my mentor. He has taught me a ton about quality playing conditions as well as life itself. “

In 2000, Jay accepted the position as the Golf Course Superintendent at The Emerald Golf Course in St. Johns, Michigan. Six years later, Jay was offered the Director of Operations position where he assumed responsibilities of the entire Emerald operation as a whole. His connections and relationships that he built throughout the years provided him an opportunity in 2015 to apply for a position with a nearby company, a liquid fertilizer supplier, AgroLiquid. “I had been watching for 15 years watch this local company grow right in front of my eyes, I saw what this company was positioned to be, and their company culture was everything you could want in an employer. I knew I wanted to be a part of that team. I just started reaching out.”

Eccleton believes the possibilities are limitless with a degree in Crop and Soil Sciences. “In the world of Agriculture, there are so many opportunities. What made me a good fit here at AgroLiquid wasn’t my knowledge of how to grow crops, it was having basic knowledge of agronomics, 

knowing nutrients, knowing soil, things I had learned at Michigan State. Another trait the turf industry has afforded me is the opportunity to lead people and work with outstanding team members.

To be successful in any business, Eccleton believes you have to be quality driven and customer focused. Like any successful business you have opportunity windows to succeed. With crop production, you only get a few opportunities to produce quality yield. If you miss an opportunity, make a mistake, or miss certain details, you’re going to have less than desirable results when it comes to yield. Having the right people in place and getting them the resources they need to make it happen is paramount.”

Jay’s primary responsibility at Agroliquid is the oversight of an 1100 acre research facility that provides support to sales and marketing and their efforts around the country.

Even with the success in his new position, Eccleton still has a passion for golf and still manages to find time for the game and industry he grew up in. “My long standing relationship with the ownership team at the Emerald, gave me an opportunity to stay on in an oversight capacity working with the existing crew that was in place.”

“We’ve got one of the best Golf Course superintendents in Troy Looney, who also is a MTF member as well as a graduate of Michigan State University in Crop and Soil Sciences. Eccleton also encourages his wife, Director of Golf Operations & Event Planning at the Emerald, Katie Eccleton. “I fit in wherever they need me and I try to stay out of their way. I am fortunate to experience the best of

both worlds. I’ve got a great career with a progressive company in AgroLiquid and can keep my passionalive assisting at the Emerald with the experience I have there.

“Being a part of the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation has certainly helped pave the way through their support and afforded me the opportunity to grow professionally through networking of peers and industry professionals. Building my confidence to explore new career paths and increasing my skill set.”

This is the first in a series of articles we are hoping to continue as a way to highlight the success and impact of members of the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation in our industry. If you would like to share a success story for our Members in The Field series, or if you would like to nominate another member, please reach out to us at miturfgrass@gmail.com.