by Ray Bennedetti
Pat Differ has been a member of the WCTA since 1976 and is a former board member. For 26 years the industry has been blessed with Pat's charming presence. He was born out east in Toronto ( I won't say when ), is married to a wonderful woman named Wendy, and has three children ; Lindsay (19), Claire (16), and Jay (14).
Before entering the turfgrass industry Pat was fortunate enough to have a professional career as both a Lacrosse and a Hockey player. He attended the Detroit Red Wings camp in 72 and played minor pro hockey in their system. Pat played pro lacrosse in Quebec City in 1975 and won the world field Lacrosse championship in 78 when he was with team Canada. Pat has also
officiated in 10 national championships between hockey and lacrosse.
Mr. Differ's career in the turfgrass industry began in 1973 at Point Grey Golf Club. Ironically, it was his Lacrosse career that lead him to the west coast, as he moved to Vancouver from Ontario at that time to play for the Vancouver Burrards. It was then that he suddenly had a desire to work on a golf course. One of the executive from the Burrard team happened to know club professional Dick Munn and made an arrangement for Pat to meet and discuss a possible job opportunity. In February of 73 Pat started in the Pro shop with Dick.
Pat's first day on the job was an entertaining one indeed. After his first hour of work Dick Munn came in the proshop and said "we need a fourth, grab your clubs". Pat walked out onto the first tee and there was Dick, Jack Webster (from BCTV), and Terry Jacks (a Vancouver based musician most famous for his song "seasons in the sun"). After an awesome time playing golf they went down to Hy's Steakhouse and continued the fun. Afterwards Dick said to Pat " How's this for your first day at work?" A few weeks later Pat switched over to the grounds crew and worked for Hans Seidlitz, which was also intriguing as Point Grey was in the middle of a 10 year rebuilding program for their greens and tees. Eventually, Pat became the Superintendent at Point Grey, and then moved on to Ledgeview in Abbotsford. Construction and grow-in were on the menu at Ledgeview, giving Pat a chance to expand his horizon's.
After Pat gained as much knowledge as he could working on golf courses, he decided to change over to sales. He worked for Agrico (Evergro) and also for Dawson Seed Company. In 1993 he started Sport Turf Inc. Sport Turf currently does business right across Canada, in Washington State, and in Oregon.
When asked how he feels about the industry Pat replied, " The turfgrass industry is entering an era where Turf Managers will face their greatest challenges. Concerns about the environment and the demands placed on the turf surfaces (sportsfields, golf courses and related turf areas) have never been greater." Of course we all realize that the general public pretty much expects to see exactly what they see on television in all these areas, so I'm sure we can all relate to that statement! Pat went on to say that " budgets are tight and turf managers are being asked to provide more for less. This places a great deal of emphasis on technical knowledge. We as an industry must keep up!" Hence, this is why I believe that our camaraderie and communication is of primary importance. If we continue to work as one giant unit, all these tremendous demands can easily be met.
Pat Differ's future goals are " to continue to run our business in Canada and the US and try to make a positive impact in the turf industry. On a personal note I would like to continue to involve my family in the operations of our companies and provide opportunities for my children to learn and grow as they gain workplace experience."
When asked about how he feels about the WCTA, Pat had these remark ; " I've always felt that the WCTA is the most significant association I belong to. I'd like to thank Gary Perks for getting me involved way back in 1976. It's a group of great people from a cross section of our industry. The WCTA has made great progress in the past few years and a great deal of credit must go to Bob and Charlotte Wick and their predecessors. The board has a good mix of our industry (i.e. Parks, Golf, School board, and Industry reps.)."
Pat feels that our industry is going and growing in the right direction - " As long as we keep a focus in our industry on the environment and the associated science related to growing healthy plants we'll be fine. The days are gone where we can simply do what we've always done. Turf managers need to continue to grow through education and strive to provide the best product they can in an ever changing world. There will be many more challenges that we as an industry will be faced with, and I believe in the exchange of information that takes place in groups like the WCTA."
Turf Line News August/September 1999
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