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Team member Geramy Kimber with Matt Whalen

Featured Article

A Day in The Life

"Matt Whalen’s dual focus on environmental stewardship and team empowerment has led to a thriving club environment." — Jason Cortes, Greeley Country Club General Manager/COO

Article by Mathew Klickstein and Matt Whalen

Photography by Santora Photo Co.

Originally published in Greeley Lifestyle

Matt Whalen always enjoyed being outside. What a perfect fit, then, that, two seasons ago, the Greeley Country Club welcomed him as their new Director of Agronomy, overseeing the grounds.

“When I was fourteen, I started as a seasonal employee at the airport golf course in Cheyenne,” Matt says. “I was lucky enough to have a great mentor, John Roth, who took the time to show me the ropes as a young man. I tell everyone I literally started at the bottom and have worked my way up.”

Still very much in touch with his mentor, Matt notes that John and he joke that “the student has now become the teacher, as the turf industry is always evolving.”

Matt first came to Greeley from Surprise, Arizona to work for Nutrien Ag Solutions before being offered a job as the superintendent for the Broadlands Golf Course in Broomfield. From there, he transitioned into his current role at the Greeley Country Club in March of 2023.

“I start almost every day waking up at around 4 or 4:30 a.m. to watch SportsCenter to see what happened the night before, as I usually can’t stay awake to watch sporting events that go late into the evening,” Matt, an avid sports fan, says.

Matt's consistent intention to arrive at the office by 5:30 a.m., irrespective of his official start time, showcases his dedication to excellence and diligence. This early arrival affords him the opportunity to meticulously survey the course, identifying any tasks beyond mowing that may require attention.

By 6 a.m., as the first rays of dawn brighten up the property he stewards, Matt meets with his team. Together, they strategize and prepare for whatever they'll need to manage that day.

Their unified front sets the tone for their job, fostering a culture of efficiency and camaraderie among the staff. Matt's proactive approach not only ensures the continual improvement of the golf course but also exemplifies his skills as an adept team leader.

As Greeley Country Club General Manager Jason Cortes puts it, Matt has made significant contributions to both the club and the environment through his leadership and commitment to sustainable practices.

“His approach combines a deep respect for nature with innovative agronomic techniques, positioning the club as a leader in environmental stewardship,” Jason elaborates.

Under Matt’s guidance, the club has embraced organic fertilizer programs, which play a crucial role in maintaining healthy turf, demonstrating the Director of Agronomy’s understanding that effective environmental care often requires a patient, long-term perspective.

Despite the availability of quicker, chemical alternatives, Matt remains dedicated to organic and sustainable methods, ensuring the club’s practices not only enhance the golf course but also contribute positively to the surrounding ecosystem.

“Matt’s leadership extends beyond environmental management,” Jason adds.

“He is committed to team development, believing in the potential of each team member. He invests time in mentoring his staff, fostering a culture of integrity, strong work ethic and continual improvement. This approach has cultivated a team dynamic and has reinforced a club culture that values both personal growth and collective success.”

In addition to organic practices, the Greeley Country Club, under Matt’s direction, further demonstrates a commitment to sustainability by focusing on water conservation through the use of efficient irrigation systems and the selection of drought-resistant turf varieties.

Moreover, the club promotes biodiversity by maintaining natural habitats and planting native vegetation. These initiatives not only enhance the aesthetic and ecological value of the club but also reflect Matt’s holistic approach to environmental care.

“Matt Whalen’s reputation as a leader of choice in the industry is well-deserved,” Jason concludes.

“His dual focus on environmental stewardship and team empowerment has not only led to a thriving club environment but has also set a benchmark in the region for how clubs can operate sustainably and successfully. Greeley Country Club is fortunate to have such a forward-thinking and dedicated leader as its Director of Agronomy.”

  • Matt Whalen and his dog Mia
  • Team member Geramy Kimber with Matt Whalen
  • Team member Caden Panas with Matt Whalen

The biggest part of my day is checking water levels and managing how the water is allocated to the property. I’m always mindful of how we water the property; it truly is the biggest challenge I face.

We utilize soil meters every day to make sure the turf has what it needs to survive and to make sure things aren’t over-watered. These tools also help us make agronomic decisions when it comes to disease pressures and humidity levels.

The afternoons are left for administrative work and planning for the next day or week. With tournaments and club functions, there is always something going on that needs to be addressed.

Every day is like being a coach, ensuring the staff does their best and can learn from their mistakes. I can be tough on my employees; however, they all understand that I’m harder on myself than anyone else. 

It helps that the members here are amazing, are very sincere when they speak to me and care about the future of the club. That is not always the case with other clubs.

I enjoy talking with members and guests, so that I can hear their ideas and feedback on what they think of their course. The property will always be a work in progress for years to come — it truly is a blank canvas for my staff and me to bring to life, and I wake up every morning wondering what my day will bring!

"Greeley Country Club is fortunate to have such a forward-thinking and dedicated leader as its Director of Agronomy."

"[The property] truly is a blank canvas ... and I wake up every morning wondering what my day will bring!"

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