As an industry of golf professionals, we always find ways to do more with less and when we put our minds to it, we can accomplish many things.
The season was getting ready to start at Indian Summer Golf and Country Club, Olympia, Wash. The men’s club and ladies golf clubs were well under way and they had already completed their opening tournaments. We were preparing to ramp up on our maintenance practices over the next couple weeks when the mechanic came to me to give his two week notice. My heart dropped a little as he explained that his passion was no longer in golf course maintenance. He wanted to pursue his real passion of drift racing.
If you’ve been around golf course maintenance for anytime there are a few key people that you count on for a property and it’s course to be successful. One of those key people is the mechanic. Not only is keeping equipment running necessary, but a large part of every operation is having clean cutting mowers. Without a sharp blade on each piece of equipment, it’s tough for your team to produce that luster that is achieved—and in many cases expected—at country clubs across America.
I started looking to fill the position immediately. I called my mechanic from the last club to see if he would be interested in moving to Washington. He was a great mechanic, but he wasn’t able to come.
I tried a few other avenues to find a person, but each lead nowhere. It seemed like every time that I had a candidate lined up it fell through. Meanwhile the largest tournament of the year, the member-guest, was fast approaching.
I started to think that, worst case scenario, I could step up and fill the void. Sure, I felt comfortable grinding and setting reels, but all the other mechanical stuff was not really in my skill set. That said, I’m the type of person that will never turn away from a challenge. So, as the mowers got dull, I was able to keep up with the sharpening and ensure quality cutting equipment on the course.
Course maintenance and Indian Summer went along without a hitch while I frantically missed deadline after deadline to get a mechanic in place. As the season continued I worked to get reels set, checked and sharpened and fortunately events came and went without any noticeable problems. In the back of my mind, I knew the chances of finding a mechanic before the Member/Guest, was becoming slim to none.
I started to come to the realization that I was going to have to weather this storm as the interim mechanic. It was quite a risk since this tournament sets the tone for the whole season. If I had trouble with equipment and we were not able to give the members a great golf course to play on, I would be up the creek without a paddle.
Then, two weeks before the tournament, the roller blew a seal in the transmission an oil spilled on the tenth green. Guess who needed to fix it? That’s right. I did. Somehow. My stress level was through the roof and I knew that I would have to dig into the transmission of the roller to replace a four dollar seal.
As you know a superintendent’s job is no walk in the park. The condition of the course needs to be great regardless of what mother nature throws in your direction. Now, it fells on my shoulders to get the roller back on line to ensure green speeds were met for the biggest tournament of the year.
The roller sat in front of me in the shop dripping oil. With a wrench in hand, I knew this would be my turning point. Good or bad, I had to take this challenge on for the good of the course. I had no other options. Plus, I had some exploded drawings that gave me an idea of what to expect so I dug into the transmission, learning as I went.
Two hours later and after a cleanup of about a gallon of transmission oil I had the transmission sitting on the bench and the seal in my
hand. I installed the new part and followed the instructions in reverse to put it all together. After I had it together, I refilled the reservoir with fresh transmission oil and it was ready to test. This was the moment of truth. I started the engine and engaged the transmission. The rollers immediately started to turn and there were no leaks. The roller worked!
A few months later I was able to find a mechanic to help with equipment repair. But, until I found this person, I learned that I was able to do more than what I thought I could do if I just looked at the equipment a little more logically. If I knew how it worked, I could figure out why it didn’t.
This experience reflects what a lot of us in the golf course industry are going through or have gone through in recent years. As budgets have tighten, we’ve had to do more with less. And while I don’t recommend a summer without a mechanic, as the saying goes, if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish many things.
This summer that saying rang true for me.