2022 Southern California Golf & Water Summit

Thursday, August 18, 2022
9 a.m. — 2:30 p.m.

Geoff Shackelford

Geoff Shackelford is a longtime golf writer and design consultant who has authored ten books. Co-architect of Rustic Canyon Golf Course and consultant on the restoration of several classics, including The Los Angeles Country Club’s North Course, host of the 2023 U.S. Open, he was a longtime contributor to Golf Channel and continues to share his love of history, course design and the professional game via a major championship-focused newsletter, The Quadrilateral. He graduated from Pepperdine University in 1994 where he played on the men’s golf team.

Gary Tilkian, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

Gary Tilkian is a Senior Resource Specialist on the Water Efficiency Team at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. While at Metropolitan he has worked on CA State Water Project /Bay-Delta issues, monitored local water recycling and groundwater recovery and managed Metropolitan’s Regional Water Conservation Rebate Program. Gary currently manage the performance-based Water Savings Incentive Program and work on Water-Energy Nexus collaboration with energy utilities. He holds a BA degree from UC Berkeley where he majored in Geography, and first began to explore water issues in the Western U.S. Gary also obtained an MA in Geography from UCLA, working on river geomorphology, climatology and water budgeting.

Dr. Cole Thompson, USGA

Dr. Cole Thompson oversees the USGA’s turfgrass and environmental research initiatives, including the Mike Davis Program for Advancing Golf Course Management. The Davis Program supports and conducts research to improve sustainability and advance turfgrass science principles that enhance management practices for golf courses. With input from a volunteer committee of university and industry scientists, Cole determines short- and long-term research priorities, solicits and evaluates research proposals, supports cooperative research funding opportunities with federal agencies and industry, and coordinates with USGA-supported scientists to monitor the progress of current research. Cole earned a B.S. in agriculture and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in horticulture from Kansas State University. He was a USGA Green Section intern and worked as an assistant golf course superintendent before entering graduate school. Before joining the USGA in 2018, Cole held faculty positions at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo.

Dr. Marta Pudzianowska, University of California, Riverside

Dr. Marta Pudzianowska has been working in warm-season turfgrass breeding program at the University of California, Riverside since 2017. Her efforts as a turf breeder focus on developing new bemudagrass and kikuyugrass cultivars with improved winter color retention and drought tolerance. Dr. Pudzianowska earned her master’s degree and doctorate in Horticulture at Warsaw University of Life Sciences, Poland.

Deven Upadhyay, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

Deven Upadhyay is the Assistant General Manager and Chief Operating Officer for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. He is responsible for managing the operational business functions of the district, which include system operations, engineering, planning and water resources management. Upadhyay began his career with Metropolitan in 1995 as a resource specialist in the Planning and Resources Division. In 2005, he left Metropolitan to work for the Municipal Water District of Orange County on water policy issues. In 2008, he returned to Metropolitan as the Budget and Financial Planning Section Manager before becoming Group Manager for Water Resources Management in 2010. Upadhyay earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from California State University, Fullerton and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of La Verne.

Dr. Bryan Unruh, University of Florida

Dr. Bryan Unruh has been a professor of environmental horticulture at the University of Florida, IFAS, West Florida Research and Education Center in Jay, Florida for over 25 years. His work centers on water quality (nutrient leaching and runoff) and quantity (drought) concerns, pest management and new turfgrass cultivar development. He leads a team of scientists and graduate students and works in collaboration with colleagues from the public and private sector. After getting his doctorate at Iowa State University, Unruh went on to win many accolades in the industry like the 2018 Turfgrass Educator Award of Excellence and was the Chair of the Crop Science Society of America C5 Division.

Dr. Matteo Serena, USGA

Matteo Serena, Ph.D., is the newest member of the USGA Green Section. As senior manager of irrigation research and services, Dr. Serena will be an important part of the Green Section research team. He will work with superintendents, researchers, allied golf associations, and other stakeholders to advance water conservation on golf courses. Matteo has more than a decade of experience researching turfgrass irrigation and water conservation strategies. A native of Italy, Matteo received his Bachelor and Master of Science degrees from the University of Padua. He earned his doctorate in plant and environmental sciences from New Mexico State University, where he continued as a research assistant professor before joining the University of California, Riverside.

Josh Heptig, San Luis Obispo County Parks & Recreation

Josh Heptig is the Director of Golf Course Operations with San Luis Obispo County Parks & Recreation. He oversees three golf courses: Morro Bay, Chalk Mountain and Dairy Creek, and manages budgeting, course conditions, facilities management and customer relations. At Dairy Creek GC he started a “Zero Waste Park” initiative to reduce consumption, increase recycling and minimize waste. As a result, he was awarded GCSAA’s 2017 President’s Award for Environmental Stewardship. Before then, Heptig earned a degree in Horticulture and Golf Course Management at Kansas State University and was a Golf Course Superintendent for over 20 years at golf clubs throughout the country.

Brian Whitlark, USGA

Whitlark joined the Green Section staff of the USGA in 2008 as an agronomist in the West Region. He makes Course Consulting Service visits in Arizona, Nevada, California, New Mexico and Mexico. Whitlark is a certified professional soil scientist and has worked extensively with golf courses facing challenging soil and water conditions. Since joining the Green Section, Whitlark has conducted applied research in a variety of areas, including mitigating saline and sodic soils, evaluating practices to produce quality putting surfaces, exploring the pros and cons of using turf colorants and optimizing mower setup. He has written extensively for practitioners in the areas of soil, water and soil test interpretation. Whitlark is a graduate of the University of Arizona at Tucson, where he received his Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from the Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science, with an emphasis in turfgrass science.

Matthew Muhlenbruch, Hillcrest Country Club

Matthew Muhlenbruch is the Director of Agronomy at Hillcrest CC in Los Angeles, CA. At Hillcrest, he oversaw the 2019 renovation and continues to plan sustainable practices for the club, such as the installation of soil moisture sensor networks to control water usage. Prior to working at Hillcrest, Muhlenbruch worked as a golf course superintendent in Northern California at The Olympic Club and Poppy Hills GC. During his time at The Olympic Club, he led a multi-million dollar golf course reconstruction project and simultaneously coordinated on-site logistics for the 2012 U.S. Open Championship. Muhlenbruch earned a degree in Turf Science from Penn State University and went on to get his MBA at San Francisco State University.

Justin Mandon, Pasatiempo Golf Club

Justin Mandon has been a golf course superintendent and turf farmer for over 20 years at courses such as Sharon Heights CC, The Olympic Club and currently Pasatiempo GC in Santa Cruz, CA. He also serves as a Grassroots Ambassador for GCSAA. Mandon attended Rutgers University and studied turfgrass management.

Krista Guerrero, Metropolitan Water District

A Southern California native, Krista Guerrero has over 20 years of experience in the drinking water industry. She holds a B.S. in Natural Resources from Cornell University and a M.S. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Florida. She began her career as a hydrogeologist for the South Florida Water Management District assisting golf courses with their water supply and water efficiency needs. She has worked on a range of issues including source water protection, stormwater management, water efficiency, water quality, and water resource management. She specializes in outdoor conservation and is currently the program manager for Metropolitan Water District’s turf replacement program.

Parker Cohn, Performance Resource Management

Parker Cohn is a soil management expert who helps farms increase the quality and quantity of crop yields while reducing the amount of water, energy, chemicals, and labor used. His business, Performance Resource Management, uses a unique combination of biological processes and remote sensing technologies to rebuild the soil on golf courses, sports fields, and farms with massive implications for global environmental conservation. Results delivered by PRM include: improving the health of our food supply; increasing carbon cycling; providing a cleaner water supply by reducing chemicals and runoff; reducing the carbon footprint of PRM clients, while allowing businesses to greatly reduce operating costs. The water and energy infrastructure of agriculture in the west is a major threat to health and food security around the globe. Parker’s systems are powerful answers we’ve been looking for to support soil carbon sequestration and move toward solving our climate crisis. Parker holds a BA/BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of San Diego, where he discovered and developed his strong interest in the future of water conservation.

Bruce Chalmers, PE, Metropolitan Water District

Bruce Chalmers has 40 years of design and managerial experience in the fields of water and wastewater engineering. He has been involved in projects encompassing the planning, design, and construction management of water storage and distribution facilities, sewage collection systems, sewage lift stations, water booster stations, chemical systems and water and wastewater treatment plants. Chalmers is the Program Manager for the Metropolitan Water District’s Regional Recycled Water Program. He has extensive large project experience managing multiple firm project teams and has been responsible for the numerous water and sewer projects, including four recycled water plants, like the 70-million-gallons-per-day (mgd) Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) for the Orange County Water District, which is currently the largest Indirect Potable Water recycled water project in the world. Chalmers has a BS from UCLA and a master’s degree from Cal State Long Beach. He is a professional engineer in California, Florida and Nevada.

Suresh Radhakrishnan, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

Suresh Radhakrishnan is HR Strategic Partner at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD). Suresh has over 33 years of progressive and comprehensive experience in providing consultation and support to Executives and Managers for strategic initiatives, business planning, workforce management, team building, performance coaching, and manager/supervisor development. He has managed the Organizational Development and Training function in many roles in the Human Resources Group. He was also Vice President and Advisory Committee member of the Association of Confidential Employees and is a former President of the Asian American Employees Organization at MWD. Suresh came to the USA on an international exchange program scholarship in 1980. He has an MBA in Finance and Management, and a Bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management, both from Jacksonville State University, Alabama. As Senior Adjunct Faculty in the College of Business and Public Management at the University of La Verne, Suresh has taught classes since 1996 and was the recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award at ULV in 2014. He also serves as a brand ambassador for SpectrumKnowledge/UC-Irvine’s Elevate Forum for ERGs.

Jim Baird, University of California, Riverside

Jim Baird is the Turfgrass Specialist at the University of California, Riverside.

More speakers will be added soon.