July 10, 2012
Springfield, Mo., July 9, 2012 — When the U.S. Senior Open tees off this week at Indianwood Golf and Country Club in Michigan, one Drury graduate will be watching closely because, in three years, it will be his golf course hosting the best over-50 golfers in the world at Del Paso Country Club in Sacramento, Calif.
Mark McKinney is the superintendent at Del Paso, which means he’s responsible for making sure the nearly 100-year-old course is playable for golfers and looks great for spectators. It’s a job that suits McKinney’s personality, “I’d go crazy if I had to be inside all day,” McKinney said.
Admittedly, McKinney was not a great student. He dropped out of college after graduating from Glendale in 1982 and worked two jobs, but he was encouraged to go back, “My grandfather McKinney told me go back to college and get an education. If it wasn’t for him, I probably wouldn’t have done that,” McKinney said. “Drury taught me how to learn, to think and to excel. Drury taught me a lot of life skills and I met people who are still important to me today.”
McKinney attended Drury from 1984-1989, captaining the club soccer team and playing golf. Biology professor Dr. Don Deeds was the golf coach then and was McKinney’s advisor. The two have remained close friends. “I know Mark says he was a poor student, but he has always been very smart. Drury helped him focus his intellect and his passions, and he’s found a career that combines his love of golf and for being outdoors,” Deeds said.
For a guy who says he wasn’t a good student, McKinney spent a lot of time in school. After getting his biology degree from Drury in 1989, he sought an agronomy degree from the University of Missouri and graduated in 1991. It wasn’t long before McKinney landed the superintendent job at Las Colinas Country Club near Dallas, home of the PGA Tour’s Byron Nelson Classic.
Now, working at his eighth golf course, McKinney gets to live a life around golf. He spent a week working at the United States Open in San Francisco in June, but he doesn’t get to tee it up that often, “If you love to play golf, don’t get in the golf business. I only play 6-8 times per year, but, when I do get to play, it’s at some of the best courses in the country.”