At least 400 friends, family, co-workers, club members and fellow superintendents and industry leaders gathered at The Patriot Golf Club in Owasso Monday to celebrate the life of Jeremy Dobson, the club’s director of agronomy who lost his life in an auto accident Feb. 21 near Jacksonville, Fla., while returning from watching the Daytona 500 auto race.
Moving remembrances were delivered by Patriot General Manager Ali Sezgin, club president Willie Barron, former top assistant Bryan Brinkman, Southern Hills superintendent Russ Myers, The Patriot co-founder Lt. Col. Dan Rooney and by Dobson’s younger sister Jean, father Michael and mother Nancy.
Rooney announced that the club would found a scholarship in his name at his alma mater Kansas State. Most of the attendees wore purple in honor of his love for the Wildcats.
Barron told hilarious tales of a golf trip to Las Vegas. Myers, who worked with Dobson at Southern Hills before he accepted the job at The Patriot in 2008, told about his pride at becoming the Southern Hills superintendent before he realized that he wasn’t even the best superintendent on his own staff. All speakers came back to the theme of Dobson as a man of few words but a fountain of great mirth which flowed forth at times, as well as his incredible integrity, knowledge and dedication to his craft.
“I never had to worry about his department,” Sezgin said. “He was one of the most dedicated people I’ve ever known. The golf course was his baby. Someone once said, being successful is not doing extraordinary things, but doing the ordinary things very well. He embodied that every day.”
“Jeremy was a patriot and a warrior in that same spirit with the best people I’ve ever gone into combat with,” said Rooney, a fighter jet pilot with multiple tours of combat duty and the founder of the Folds of Honor Foundation. “He always put service before himself. “
Dobson kept the Patriot moving forward during build-in from the beginning of construction in 2008 to its 2010 opening despite the impacts of the Great Recession, a 100-year flood, droughts and other calamities.
“Jeremy never flinched,” Rooney said. “He always stayed tough, bullets flying and got us through.”
“Being a superintendent at one of the top clubs in the country, if not the world, you start to think you’re pretty special,” Myers said. “When I showed up here in 2006 I thought I must be one of the top superintendents in the country. It’s pretty humbling when you realize you’re not the best and it’s even worse when you realize you’re not even the best on your own staff. It was very clear to me early on that I was going to learn a lot more from Jeremy than I was ever going to teach him.
“And that never changed to this day. I don’t have to tell a Patriot member or a Southern Hills member that the greens he put out up here were better than anything I ever put out. He was the first call for many of us in here whether we wanted help or just to get a beer.”
Brinkman said that while Dobson was fine with all the duties of being a superintendent, his first love and genius was for growing turf, whether greens, fairways or rough. That was reflected in Myers’ comments and most experts in the area would agree that The Patriot was always among the finest conditioned courses in the region.
– Ken MacLeod