Catching up with the TOCA/TurfNet Intern Parker Stancil

Editor’s Note: For the past three years, the TOCA intern has been hosted by TurfNet through its internship program managed overseas with a student studying to be a superintendent. The student also is involved in blogging regularly for TurfNet. Following is a summary of this year’s internship by TOCA and TurfNet intern Parker Stancil by Jon Kiger of TurfNet.

Those who attended the TOCA Annual Meeting in Cincinnati heard about our media intern Parker Stancil. You may recall seeing the video I filmed where he explained how much he was looking forward to his time in Denmark and how appreciative he was of the TOCA media internship. I was fortunate to be able to visit Parker at his host course in Keterminde, Denmark.

The trip was relatively easy as I was already in Dublin on vacation. I say “relatively” as it was still a two-plus hour flight to Copenhagen and a combination train/car ride to the town. Upon arrival at the nearby train station I was greeted by longtime friend and frequent TurfNet intern host Aidan O’Hara. As you can gather from his name, he’s not originally from Denmark! Aidan is from Ireland and hosted our first three interns there starting in 2012. This is his second full season in charge of Great Northern Golf Club in Keterminde, Denmark.

The course is only fully operational between March and November so Aidan assembles a crew of International seasonal workers to carry him through that time. Parker was to join that crew as its only American representative.

Great Northern is owned by the grandson of the founder of Legos so it is very much a personal project and the expectations are that the course, clubhouse, etc… are all run at a high standard. Keterminde has a population of about 6,500 and is located on the central Denmark island of Funen. Upon my arrival I was immediately struck by the silence as I walked around town. There wasn’t the usual ambient noise I was used to in Atlanta. I also saw young people (late teens) in the town riding bicycles which was in stark contrast to the drivers license right of passage we’re used to here.

Parker took to the work at Great Northern with the enthusiasm I had seen when we first met at the Tour Championship in Atlanta. His primary adjustments were based on learning how to cook, do his own laundry and other functions that were taken care of since he lived at home. He also soon realized that finding his own source of transportation was vital (the course and housing were a couple miles out of town) so he bought a bike locally from Facebook Marketplace (including negotiating a lower price and delivery of the bike…)

Aidan gave Parker a variety of responsibilities such as mowing, to course set up, and even some spraying. He also did a few tests within their nursery area. These were all chronicled in the blog he wrote for TurfNet.

During our visit I saw Parker out on the course working;  and we also played the course later that day. Denmark work regulations dictate much more free time than we (and especially golf course interns) are used to here, so he had time for a few side trips to the beach and into Copenhagen.

In total I spent two nights in Keterminde during my visit with Parker and Aidan. I would certainly consider a second trip there as part of a regular vacation to that part of Europe as it was definitely away from the crowds you would expect in Europe’s major cities.

The following month Parker and Ashley Wilkinson (his step-father and also on the faculty at Horry Georgetown) both volunteered at the Scottish Open in Gullane, Scotland. I also met up with them there and it was great to see them integrated into a very small pool of volunteers (about eight) and the regular crew at Gullane Golf Club. Parker’s mom Tracy wasn’t about to have Ashley visit him in Scotland without coming along herself so she came to Scotland and enjoyed the week there.

TOCA members should enjoy hearing in her own words what she felt Parker got out of the entire experience:

“Parker left just days after his 19th birthday. He left young and still a little naive, yet returned in August a confident young man. 

In just a few short months, Parker experienced the leadership of a great mentor at Great Northern, cultural diversity, and an unbelievable brotherhood with an international group of co-workers.  He managed to juggle his homework assignments, as well as write weekly blogs for TurfNet!  As his mother, I know I’m a little prejudiced, but I was delighted every week to read his TurfNet blogs.  I read them with such pride at the terrific job he was doing. 

My husband and I had the pleasure of joining him at Scottish Open in July.  I was amazed to watch Parker interact with the group of international volunteers!  I was also amazed with his passion for his role in this huge international event. 

To say he grew up this summer is an understatement. My heart is truly full. Again, thank you to TurfNet and TOCA. I will always be indebted to you all for giving Parker this opportunity.” 

His experience on the course(s) is described above so I’d like to describe his communication skills as he wrote his blog for TurfNet. Parker was by far our best student blogger. He took direction well on topics to cover and his photos helped tell each story very well.

When we send these interns over we understand that they have many time pressures so we expect to do a little “prodding” to get the blog posts over in a timely and regular fashion. Parker was outstanding in sending in his blog posts at or in advance of our Thursday deadline. When we received them they needed very little editing which also made it a pleasure.

I enjoyed getting to know Parker and having him as TOCA and TurfNet’s intern this summer. I look forward to keeping in touch with him and following his career path. After reading this I hope you’ll agree that the TOCA media internship is making a difference in the lives of the next generation of communicators. Thanks to the TOCA Board for allowing TurfNet to host the intern and thanks to Bayer for its financial support of this important program.