Longtime Superintendent John Ford retires

John Ford, CGCS, is retiring April 30, 2023 from his superintendent position at Whispering Firs Golf Course at JBLM.

Ford has been involved with the game of golf since before he was a teenager, but after a 45-year career it’s time for him to spend more time with three generations of his family that are very important to him.

He has been a longtime member of Western Washington Golf Course Superintendents Association, and has had a lengthy career in the turf management industry.

Ford started his golf career in 1965, working as a young caddie at Oswego Lake Country Club in Lake Oswego, Ore. He caddied there for nine years and was awarded an Evans Scholarship to attend the University of Oregon.

At Oregon he played on the men’s golf team during his freshman year and studied business administration. But the summer after his freshman year he worked on the maintenance crew for Dick Fluter at Oswego Lake CC, and that changed everything for Ford.

With the encouragement of Fluter he transferred to Oregon State to study agronomy, and while there became Tom Cook’s first Turfgrass student. He continued working on the crew at Oswego Lake CC while he finished his degree at Oregon State.

Ford met his wife, Karen, while at Oregon State and they were married the week after graduation in 1978. That summer he was hired as assistant superintendent at Royal Oaks Country Club in Vancouver, Wash., and he worked there for three years, finishing his last season working for John Anderson.

In 1981, Ford was hired at Tacoma Country and Golf Club as their new superintendent. Working with Bob Root, he took over at the young age of 24. During his time at Tacoma, Ford served on the WWGCSA Board as vice president in charge of education.

Working with Andy Soden, Gary Sayre and Keith Pegg, they started the first of what has now become the WWGCSA Turf and Landscape Show. These educational seminars provide recertification credits for Washington State Pesticide Licenses.

Ford worked at Tacoma through the spring of 1989, during which time he supervised the construction for the new three holes and the driving range. It was considered to be quite a change for such an old course.

During the summer of 1989 Ford worked as an administrative assistant for Gary Sayre at Overlake Golf and Country Club in Medina, Wash. At the end of that summer the superintendent position at Fort Lewis Golf Course (now Eagles Pride Golf Course) came open and Ford was hired there.

At Eagles Pride, he worked for Jim Barnhouse and then Mike McDonald during his 27 years there, and for the past six years he has been superintendent at Whispering Firs Golf Course, working for Jeff Clark, the PGA director of golf for JBLM.

When asked what his best accomplishment was during his career, Ford replied, “Being able to have such a wonderful family support me during the long hours at the course. My wife Karen of 44 years has been amazing, helping to raise our three fine boys, Brian, Nathan and Greg. They all have fantastic wives and my five grandchildren are the loves of my life. I am blessed.”