College of Agriculture & Natural Resources
Institute of Applied Agriculture

IAA Internship Stories: Keaton Klee

Author: 
Bobby Blake

A summer spent working 12 hours a day with no days off seems like a college student’s nightmare. But for Keaton Klee, a second-year Golf Course Management student from Bel Air, Md, it was fun. Klee spent his 2017 summer break interning at Merion Golf Club, in the Philadelphia suburb of Haverford, PA.  

Merion Golf Club, a private golf club currently listed as the #6 golf course in the country by the 2016 Golf Digest rankings, has hosted five U.S. Open Championships as well as numerous other tournaments. The 36-hole facility is currently undergoing a renovation and restoration of the East Course. Ken Ingram of the Institute of Applied Agriculture (IAA) at the University of Maryland, who serves as Klee’s academic advisor said, “Working at a historical course like Merion can do wonders for a career. It has hosted many championships with historic moments that have shaped the history of the PGA Tour.” 

Klee hopes this is the case. During his 105-day stretch from May through August, he gained such skills as spray hawking greens (chemical spraying), walk mowing (greens and tees), and calibrating walk and ride-on chemical sprayers. Klee acknowledges that it is important to ensure sprayers met specifications for their next use. In addition, Klee learned how to hand water greens and tees. Other duties he performed included using an Air2G2 machine to inject high-pressured air into areas for better drainage, repairing irrigation, and preparing the course for daily play. Klee also learned how to prepare a budget and manage a crew.

^^Klee spray hawking greens on a warm July morning.

According to Klee, his favorite parts of the internship were the food, spray hawking, living with a great group of other interns, and the fast-paced environment that Merion provided. He said the most interesting part of the summer was learning about the renovation and restoration of the East Course, as well as learning from one of the best-known superintendents in the industry.

When asked about the experience, Klee said, “Working at Merion gave me a look into the high-level golf world, and being able to learn there was an honor.”

Upon completion of his internship, Klee was offered a full-time position as a Spray Tech and Assistant in Training; the job will begin once he finishes his studies at the Institute of Applied Agriculture. Klee plans to return to Merion to pursue his dream of becoming a Golf Course Superintendent.

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