MARTIN, Tenn. -- Colton Jones, of Savannah, remembers his internship orientation weekend like it was yesterday, but he will never forget his internship at historic Pinehurst No. 2, the site of this year’s men’s and women’s U.S. Opens in back- to-back weeks.
During his orientation weekend, as he was walking the historic course in North Carolina, designed by Donald Ross, he reached down to pick a hen bit weed. He was quickly reprimanded and told to put the weed back.
Instead of getting frustrated, he put the weed back and asked why. “The weed provided personality and I understood that,” Jones said. “Pinehurst has personality and character, and it is how golf was supposed to be played,” Jones said.
Jones was an agriculture major at UT Martin with plenty of plant and soil science classes and golf course landscape management courses. He wants to be a golf course manager.
“Augusta National is the mecca for many in my position,” Jones said. “My mecca is Pinehurst No. 2.”
Jones’ reason is twofold. First back-to-back U.S. Opens and then a conversion from bent grass greens to ultra dwarf Bermudagrass. “This is cool season vs. warm season Bermuda,” Jones said. “This internship is priceless.”
The internship at Pinehurst No. 2 is not Jones’ first hands-on experience. At the end of his freshman year, Jones worked on the grounds crew with the Jackson Generals baseball team with Tyler Brewer, who is now in charge of grounds at Virginia Tech.
At the end of his sophomore year, Jones completed an internship at Callawassie Island Golf Course, a 27-hole course near Hilton Head in Okatie, S.C. The course has ultra dwarf Bermudagrass.
After his junior year at UT Martin, Jones worked at Charlotte (N.C.) Country Club. “I was spoiled. They made sure I got experience on all the equipment,” Jones said.
He also had hands-on experience with the Bill and Amy Rhodes Golf Center on the UT Martin campus.
“We are able to practice athletically, and we are able to practice academically, “ said Dr. Wes Totten, associate professor of agriculture, geosciences and natural resources.
Totten and his turf management students can take great pride in the facility because they know they played a vital part in the year-old facility.
“Hands-on experience is priceless, “said Jones, one of Totten’s students. “That’s what the Bill and Amy Rhodes Golf Center is for me, hands-on experience.”
Jones said the facility and the hands-on experience should make the difference for him when he looks for a job.
“I would put my education against anyone in the nation.”
While many work their final internship with future employment in sight, Jones is not looking for his next job. He has faith that the right opportunity will come along.
“I am not stressing about the end of this summer,” Jones said. “God will open doors for me.”