Young Alum of the Month: Ryan Madden

Ryan Madden
Title and Company: 
Assistant Golf Course Superintendent at Sunset Country Club, St. Louis, Missouri
Creve Coeur, Missouri
Major and Graduation Date: 
Horticulture - Turfgrass Management Option, May 2009
Major Job/Position Responsibilities: 

My primary responsibility is ensuring that the overall condition of the golf course meets the standards established by the Club’s Board of Directors, the Green Committee and the Golf Course Superintendent.  That being said, the number of daily activities that need to be performed are as varied as the changes in the weather.  On any given day I could be changing cups, hand watering greens, mowing greens, mowing fairways, doing an irrigation repair, or sitting in a Greens Committee meeting.  No two days are ever alike in the golf course industry and you learn something new every day.

What you like most about your job/position: 

Being a lover of the game of golf, and with the opportunity to work in the industry, is perhaps my biggest enjoyment.  However, having grown up around golf since I was a toddler, with the ability to work outdoors, managing a terrific staff, while learning from others and having my activities provide almost immediate feedback on its success, has provided me with un-matched satisfaction.

What advice would you give to current students: 

Get involved!  I came to ISU knowing absolutely no one, except for having met Dr. Christians and Barb Osborn earlier.  However, by the time I graduated, I had lifelong friends because I got involved right away.  Get your Major Professor and/or advisor to know who you are.  Do not just be another statistic or number to them.  Take advantage of opportunities such as internships, seminars within your field of study, travel to national conferences, and study abroad.  Find a way to set yourself apart from others so when you’re applying for a job you stand out to a potential employer.


Favorite ISU Classes:

Horticulture 351: Turfgrass Establishment and Management- Dr. Christians’ first course that every turf student takes.  The course focused on the basics of turfgrass management.  I was taught everything from identifying grasses based on a single characteristic (i.e. vernation, leaf tip, growth habit, etc.) to understanding current cultural and chemical practices for the treatment of diseases and insect management.  I enjoyed Dr. Christians’ class because it featured hands-on experience within my major, bringing together the knowledge I had gained working on golf courses as a youth.  This class provided me a solid foundation for my career, enabling me to use Dr. Christians’ teachings in my current work environment.


Agronomy 155: Soils for Horticultural Scientists- Dr. Manu’s course focused on identifying soils, examining the basic physical, chemical and biological properties of natural and manufactured soils, and growing plants and turf in all soils.  I liked this class because it was my first class on soils.  For a big city kid, this class was eye opening.  I learned very quickly the difference between “soil” and “dirt.”  Soil is what you walk on and a growing medium, dirt is what’s under your finger nails.  The things that Dr. Manu taught me in this course come into practice every day now on the golf course and at home.


Horticulture 322: Plant Propagation- Dr. Stephens’ course was all about propagating several kinds of plants many different ways.  It might sound unusual for a turf major to enjoy a plant propagation class but there is something about growing an apple tree from a chip bud the size of my finger nail and watching it grow into a fruit bearing tree just three years later. 


Horticulture 445: Horticulture Management and Administration- Dr. Iles’ class was interesting to say the least. He taught us several ideas, principles, and approaches to managing people.  The most important and complicated thing I do on any given day is managing people.  Whether it’s carrying out orders from my boss, delegating orders out to the crew, or just answering a question from a Club Member or executive staff it is important that I say the right thing.  Dr. Iles taught us real world experiences from his career and put us in scenarios that we would eventually find ourselves in at some point in our own careers.  This class taught me a lot about myself and did a great job preparing me to deal with people on all levels.