Whigham student explores china

Published 3:44 pm Friday, June 12, 2009

Tifton—Richard Irvin, a turfgrass and golf course management major from Whigham, gained the opportunity of a lifetime when he recently spent 15 days in China as part of a learning experience for eight students and Professor Eddie Seagle from Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.

Irvin took classes with Chinese students attending Sun Yat-sen University’s School of Tourism program and golf club managers within the country. The ABAC students also obtained further information about their chosen field of study and toured golf courses.

“The hands-on interaction with people who were very eager to learn was great,” Irvin said. “Golf course management, and golf itself, is a very new concept in China. They don’t take for granted any resources like we do here.”

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Irvin visited Mission Hills Golf Club, the largest golf course complex in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. The resort has 12 18-hole courses. He also played the nine-hole lighted golf course among the 36 holes at Nan Sha Golf Club. He also visited Shadow Creek Golf Club in Beijing and hit golf balls off the driving range at 12,000 feet elevation at Jade Snow Dragon Mountain Golf Club, the longest golf course in the world, located in the Himalayan Mountains in Lijiang.

“We had a translator 99 percent of the time, but there was a language barrier with the caddies when we visited the courses,” Irvin said. “And when we tipped the caddies, there was a money difference, too.”

But the trip was not all work. Irvin and company also immersed themselves into all of the culture China had to offer.

“The food was great,” Irvin said. “It wasn’t Americanized so you could see what you were eating. It was better if you didn’t ask what you were about to eat and just try it. The culture is very friendly, and people are always willing to help.

“My most memorable moment of the trip was feeling like I was on top of the world while standing on top of the Great Wall of China. It was unforgettable.”

All the students paid their own way on the journey.

Irvin graduated from ABAC this month with one of the first four bachelor’s degrees presented by the college since the school was called the Georgia State College for Men in 1929-33. And the trip to China made his last semester even more memorable.

“I have loved ABAC, and I have been blessed because I was almost finished with my associate’s degree when Dr. (Eddie) Seagle asked me about staying for my bachelor’s degree,” Irvin said. “The opportunity came along at the right time.”

In his very first class at ABAC, Irvin met his wife, Heather. She graduated in May of last year from North Georgia College State University, and the couple married June 28 of the same year.

Irvin followed in the footsteps of his aunt and uncle, who met while attending ABAC.

Irvin’s mom, Pamela Chambers, attended ABAC and still keeps in touch with her college roommate she met here.

Irvin and his wife are moving to Columbus, where he already has a job as second assistant superintendent at the Country Club of Columbus.