Industry News

Indiana superintendent alters his life’s course

Beanblossom now loving life as a member of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America

Lawrence, Kan. (July 11, 2017) – When he peers into the bathroom mirror, David Beanblossom reflects on his past. It isn’t pretty. The 8-inch scar on his left cheek is, as he describes it, “big and gnarly.”

That scar, from a horrific car crash with his family when he was only six, now serves as a poignant reminder that life is fragile. It emphasizes to him that every day is a gift. It also shows that he is a survivor — and it would not be the last time that Beanblossom proved it.

“I should have been dead twice over,” Beanblossom told associate editor Howard Richman for a July story in Golf Course Management magazine.

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A successful harness racing driver, Beanblossom was catapulted 20 feet in the air and left bloody and mangled during a race mishap 15 years ago. At least one person thought he was a goner. 

“I cheated death,” Beanblossom said.

The golf course industry should be thankful for that. Facing a crossroads in his life following that perilous ordeal, he left harness racing. In one of those it-was-meant-to-be scenarios, Beanblossom eventually landed a job as an $8-an-hour crew member at Chariot Run Golf Course in Laconia, Ind., whose logo features a horse pulling an individual in a chariot. 

Beanblossom, a 10-year member of the Golf Course Superintendent Association of America (GCSAA), may have been a late bloomer to the profession, but he has risen quickly. He did not work on a golf course until 2006 when he was 39. But after becoming established at Chariot Run, he took online turfgrass courses through Penn State, and in 2011, he was named Chariot Run’s head superintendent.

“I think everything happened to me for a reason,” says Beanblossom, 50. “It happened to put me where I am right now. I am lucky to be anywhere.”

At 18, Beanblossom felt he was born to ride and earned a pari-mutuel license to participate as a harness racing driver in events where betting was permitted. It was all he knew, really. The family farm in Indiana — on the Ohio River and 45 minutes west of Louisville — featured Standardbred horses and a half-mile oval training track that included banked turns. After school, Beanblossom would clean stalls and jog horses.

Harness racing became a serious moneymaking proposition for Beanblossom, who won more than $1 million from horses he trained. He eventually moved to New York to train horses at Yonkers Raceway, but he wasn’t in a happy place. So, Beanblossom moved back to Indiana in 1995, and started harness racing again. 

Then his whole life changed again, on that fateful day of July 24, 2002 at the La Porte (Ind.) County Fair. Beanblossom was there for a harness race, but his wife Lisa was concerned before it even began. 

“The track was bad to start with. They’d had a lot of rain. They were working on it by dragging bedsprings around the track,” she says. “It seemed to me an accident was going to happen. It was just a matter of when.”

Her fears came true. In his race on the limestone track, the horse of the driver in front of him tumbled, causing a chain reaction that launched Beanblossom out of his sulky (the two-wheel cart in which he sits directly behind the horse). He flew high into the air after his horse, Bubba Tubba, trampled the horse that had fallen.

As people scrambled to aid Beanblossom, another harness racer told Lisa, who had rushed to the scene from the opposite side of the track, that he thought her husband had died in the crash.

He was rushed to the hospital, where they determined he had suffered a concussion, a fractured shoulder, a bicep tear and a partial tear of his left Achilles’ heel. 

He would recover, but the long recovery period revealed personality changes in Beanblossom. He still struggles with his memory and loses his balance at times. But when Beanblossom’s demeanor changed for the worse around his horses, he knew it was time for a change.

“I used to be patient with horses. From then on (post-accident), I’d fly off the handle if something didn’t go right. It was a change that really wasn’t my fault,” he says.

At that time, Beanblossom’s brother, Steve, was employed at Chariot Run and suggested that he apply for a job there. He followed through and even with no golf course experience, landed a position on the maintenance crew. In short time, Beanblossom gained superintendent Roger Meier’s admiration. “He had patience with me,” Beanblossom says.

When Meier departed for Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Beanblossom was named interim superintendent in 2010. The following year, Chariot Run made Beanblossom head superintendent. 

“He is one of those guys that are few and far between,” says Meier, a 20-year GCSAA member. “He did whatever you asked, was engaged, didn’t let money outweigh what he’d get in growth and experience. I just put the playbook in front of him, and he ran with it.”

Beanblossom oversees a links-style course, with bentgrass from tee to green, that totaled 23,000 rounds in 2016. Chariot Run assistant superintendent Brad Mercer says Beanblossom doesn’t let his leadership stop at the maintenance facility door. 

“He likes to ask about my personal life, how I’m doing, how my family is doing. That, to me, is the biggest thing that stands out about him,” Mercer says. “He can be demanding. He wants to make sure everybody keeps up with the high standards we have here.”

Some of Beanblossom’s crew include men and women who have come from nearby Butterfly Transformation House, a halfway house. “Giving them a safe place to work and a positive environment to get a fresh start in life has been a blessing for me,” says Beanblossom, who has regained some of the patience he temporarily lost following the accident, serving as a father figure to some of his staff.

Beanblossom doesn’t fret over what the future holds. He gets how fortunate he is that his expiration date was delayed on more than one occasion. That is out of his hands, he says. And he can live with it.

“I’m not scared of death. When God’s done with me here, he can take me home,” Beanblossom says.

About GCSAA and the EIFG

The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) is a leading golf organization in the United States. Its focus is on golf course management, and since 1926 GCSAA has been the top professional association for the men and women who manage golf courses in the U.S. and worldwide. From its headquarters in Lawrence, Kan., the association provides education, information and representation to nearly 18,000 members in more than 78 countries. The association’s mission is to serve its members, advance their profession and enhance the enjoyment, growth and vitality of the game of golf. Visit GCSAA at www.gcsaa.org or find us on Facebook or Twitter.

The Environmental Institute for Golf is the philanthropic organization of the GCSAA. Its mission is to foster sustainability through research, awareness, education, programs and scholarships for the benefit of golf course management professionals, golf facilities and the game. Visit EIFG at www.eifg.org. or find us on Facebook or Twitter.

Contact: 
Craig Smith, Director, Communications and Media Relations
Phone: 800-472-7878, ext. 4431 or 785-691-9197 (cell)
csmith@gcsaa.org