Photo: 2023 OGCSA Hall of Fame inductees Bob Randquist, Gary Hallet, Sandra Beard, wife of the late Ray Beard, Rick Murray and Mike Wooten
By Ken MacLeod
With an appreciative packed house of family and co-workers filling up the ball room at Cedar Ridge Country Club, five legends of the turf grass industry were inducted into the Oklahoma Golf Course Superintendent’s Association Hall of Fame Friday.
The final induction of the evening fittingly went to Mike Wooten, who was the superintendent at Cedar Ridge from 1986-2021. He was highly regarded not just for his turf grass acumen and work ethic, but for begin able to tackle any construction or engineering project and for freely sharing his knowledge with other superintendents around the state.
“Working for him was tough but rewarding,” said Derron Day, an assistant at Cedar Ridge before going on to be the superintendent at Muskogee Golf Club and now Firelake Golf Course in Shawnee. “His expectations were unbelievable. His precision and accuracy on everything we did just blew my mind. You could shoot marbles on our tee tops when we got done with them.”
Day remembered running everywhere in his first two days at Cedar Ridge in an effort to impress Wooten and being rewarded with two quick raises, bumping him up to $7 per hour. By the third day Wooten told him he could keep running, but that was it for raises.
In addition to Day, there were other prominent superintendents in attendance that sprang from the Wooten family tree, just as there were for former Southern Hills superintendent Bob Randquist. Brady Finton, current superintendent at Tulsa Country Club, gave a heartfelt introduction, saying he owed his entire career to Randquist’s guidance and support. Other former Southern Hills assistants in attendance included John Babe, the first and only superintendent at Forest Ridge Golf Course in Broken Arrow for 35 years now, Rory Bradshaw, Kenneth Small and John Carothers, longtime superintendent at Cherokee Hills Golf Course in Catoosa.
In addition to Wooten and Randquist, also inducted were Gary Hallet, long-time superintendent at Meadowbrook Country Club among other facilities, and industry salesman Rick Murray, also a member of the Oklahoma Turfgrass Research Association Hall of Fame. Ray Beard, former superintendent most prominently at Indian Springs and LaFortune Park, was inducted posthumously with a touching introduction speech by daughter Rashell Ruefly.
Murray worked closely with all the superintendents mentioned with various agricultural supply companies before purchasing Nick Knott Turf Supply in 1984 and selling it in 2001. He worked for Estes from 2003-13 and for Harrell’s from 2013-17 before retiring.
“I’ve known and worked with all these guys for a long time and the best thing I can say about them is they are all my friends,” Murray said.