Former state superintendent moves west
ichael Lee had it right when he
told me “Dave Swift smiles all the
time because his future is so bright.”
Mike smiled a lot, too, for the roughly 10
years “Swifty,” as his friends know him,
was on the staff that manages the famed
Kohler golf courses.
Swift was hired in 1999
and worked on finishing the
construction and seeding of
the Irish Course at Whistling
Straits. It was a busy year for
golf at Kohler. In addition to
wrapping up the Irish
Course, the Club Professional Championship was
held in June and the Wisconsin State Open was played in August.
Lee knew he had a special talent in Swift
and promoted him to superintendent of
the Straits Course in January 2001. He
held that position until 2009.
Swift was raised in southwest Minnesota
and spent his summers working and playing golf at the Fox Lake GC near his home.
His father, a grade school teacher, managed the nine-hole course during the summer and Dave was obviously influenced by
his experiences there.
After high school he enrolled in the turf
program at Anoka, near Minneapolis, and
finished his education in turf at Penn State.
Internships at The Wilds in Minnesota and
Cordillera in Colorado rounded out the ré-
sumé that netted him the
position at Kohler.
Clearly, the highlights of
the eight years Swift managed the Straits Course
were the 2004 PGA Championship and the 2007 U.S.
Senior Open. Wonderful
weather for the ’04 PGA
combined with great golf
course conditions resulted in
record attendance. That event alone
would be a dream come true in the career
of most superintendents, yet for Swift, who
was only 27 at the time, it was reality. He
took it with a smile and worked even
harder in the subsequent seasons. He
seemed set for a life and career in golf.
Then a funny thing happened in late
2008. Dave read about a job opening at
Minnehaha CC in Sioux Falls, S.D. The
course was about 100 miles from his family
CLEARLY, THE HIGHLIGHTS
OF THE EIGHT YEARS
SWIFT MANAGED THE
STRAITS COURSE WERE
THE 2004 PGA
THE 2007 PGA
and hometown. It was potentially a chance
to move back to where his roots were.
In a nutshell, Dave interviewed, was
hired and started at MCC on Feb. 28,
2009. He has gone from the high profile
position at Whistling Straits, known for its
fescue turfs, to an historic private club with
Poa annua/bentgrass turf and an entirely
new set of challenges.
Minnehaha was founded in 1905 and in
1924 Langford and Moreau designed and
built a new golf course. They’ve kept cur-
rent over the intervening years with master
plans by Larry Packard, Dick Nugent and
Bob Lohmann. Since Swift’s arrival, Gra-
ham Marsh developed a redesign of the
course to deal with the problems pre-
sented by the Big Sioux River. Swift was an
excellent choice to execute the Marsh
plan. He is, by the way, only the fifth su-
perintendent in the club’s history.