Shelridge welcomes new superintendent at golf course in Medina

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 10 February 2020 at 6:04 pm

Provided photo: Newly hired Shelridge Country Club superintendent Michael Tross, left, stands by the sign at the golf course with Dave Wagner, right, vice president of the board.

MEDINA – Shelridge Country Club will welcome golfers this spring with a new superintendent and ambitious plans for the new year.

Effective Feb. 17, Michael Tross of Marcellus will begin his duties as superintendent of Shelridge, something which has officials of Shelridge overjoyed.

This is the first superintendent’s position for Tross, 27, although he has served as assistant superintendent and project manager for three years at the famed Apawamis Club in Rye, Westchester County. Apawamis is one of the first country clubs in the United States.

Tross, who replaces former superintendent Brad Balschmitter, comes from a family of golfers. His mother and four uncles all golfed. He was only 5 or 6 the first time he played golf.

“My mother used to drop me off at the driving range, where I’d spend hours on end while she worked,” Tross said. “I developed a knowledge of agronomy and I fell in love with it.”

He attended Cobleskill College, where he played Division III golf. He received a bachelor’s degree in turf grass management. During summers he did internships at Massachusetts International Golf Club and Oak Hill in Rochester.

It was at Apawamis where Tross said he developed a unique skill set.

Tross said he sees Shelridge as a place where he can establish himself as a superintendent.

“I’m really excited about coming to Shelridge,” Tross said. “I am coming back to look at a house with my fiancée, and if we can find a place to live, I hope to be settled there by the middle of February. My main focus is to get to know the property well and take Shelridge to a level of membership it hasn’t seen, something which I think I’m very capable of doing.”

Board vice president Dave Wagner, who led the search committee for a new superintendent, and club manager Brett Decker agree.

“We’re very excited he’s on our team,” Wagner said. “He comes from Apawanis, which is one of the oldest country clubs in the United States.

Wagner is also an avid golfer and anxious to see Shelridge grow and thrive. He was introduced to golf by his father-in-law and fell in love with it, he said. He praised Shelridge’s Friday night couple’s league, of which he and his wife Brianna are members. Their children both play college golf, their daughter at Keuka and their son at Niagara University.

Shelridge has already undergone the start of renovations, which Decker said have changed the whole vibe of the country club. These include a complete facelift inside with new carpet, new foyer and covered entryway. Upstairs, two bathrooms will be added this year, with possible expansion of the dining room and enlarging the kitchen. Further plans include extending the patio and adding a fire pit and French doors.

The club has already been taking steps to improve drainage on some of the holes, and this is a project in which Tross plans to be involved.

According to Decker, they are not only looking at avenues to improve drainage, but to improve the aesthetics of the golf course, perhaps by adding a pond. Fortunately, he said, several members have donated money to help with this project.

Decker said Shelridge has kept their dues at the same level they were in 2008.

“That’s a minor miracle in this industry,” he said.

The cost of membership for a family for the first year is $795, with an additional $395 for a cart for one person.

Decker added the minimum wage increase has been a big issue for Shelridge.

“The 70-cent-an-hour cost increase in the minimum wage costs us $15,000 a year,” he said. “We don’t want to have to charge members more.”

Shelridge membership has averaged between 230 and 250, and a push will be on this year to increase that number. Currently, Decker said 40 percent of their members are from Medina and 25 percent from Lockport. Others come from throughout the region, from Brockport to Clarence.

Shelridge started its search for a new superintendent in December.

“We had some strong applicants, but we are ecstatic we could come to an agreement with Michael,” Wagner said.

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