|Meadows Golf Course/author
Does anyone else dream of being a greenskeeper?
Rolling around in a golf cart, buggy, mower, three-wheeler, utility cart, or tractor under the sunshine with the wind blowing on my face, thinking it doesn’t get any better than this.
Simply being around a golf course is like being home for me. This is partly the reason why I’ve always dreamed of being a golf course greenskeeper. My first dream job was to be a professional golfer, but this requires being exceptionally good at golf — something I’ve yet to accomplish.
Despite being an 11 handicap after nearly 30 years of trying to break the par code, I did finally accomplish my dream of being a greenskeeper.
Seeds of a Dream
Like other young and ambitious Americans, I started off my college years working toward a respectable career, specifically for me, being a secondary education history teacher. I was interested in history, liked to teach, and the pay was good.
While working toward my Associate degree at a community college I took a career development course. During this course, the teacher asked us to write a list of the careers or jobs we wanted to do. A what do you want to do when you grow up question.
For some reason, the teaching idea was getting lost in my head, so I chose to be a greenskeeper and a writer as my top career choices. There were others who wanted to be a writer, but I was the only one who wanted to be a greenskeeper.
Fast forward 19 years and I finally became a golf course greenskeeper!
Meadows Golf Course
I did work as a golf course cart attendant for a season around 7 years after this class, yet it wasn’t until I landed a job at Sunriver Resort’s Meadow Golf Course when I was 40 years old that I finally realized my dream job.
The hard part about this job is I had to drive 82 miles one way to get there. This meant my 8-hour job with a half-hour lunch turned into an 11-hour day with the drive — and the gas took a huge chunk out of my already small paycheck.
Besides the paltry pay and long commute, this was the best job I’ve ever had. I absolutely love being a golf course greenskeeper.
Starting at the break of dawn (or earlier in the dark at some courses) the crew would get on their daily assigned machines and head out to the course to accomplish the maintenance hole by hole.
The greens, tees, trim, fairways, and rough all had separate mowers dedicated to cutting the grass at a certain height. Then there was the rolling machine and the bunker rakes (three-wheelers pulling a metal rake). Either the roller or the greens mower had to cut the cups.
The difficult part was staying ahead of the golfers, as they would also start around the break of dawn. If we got behind they would soon catch up with us, and letting them through wasn’t an option, as there would continually be groups coming afterward and we’d never finish — I’ve had nightmares of golf carts chasing me down since becoming a greenskeeper.
Meadows is an amazing golf course in a beautiful setting. Riding out to the first hole in the morning was like entering paradise, especially when the weather was nice in the summer. Being in the high country in central Oregon (4300 ft.), the spring and fall had plenty of inclement weather including snow, rain, sleet, and freezing temperatures.
Bandon Dunes Golf Resort
After working one season at Meadows and doing very well, I had the golf fever once again (dreams of being a professional golfer at 40 YOA). With other extenuating circumstances, we decided to move to Bandon, Oregon, so I could work as a caddie at the prestigious resort and begin to practice more for my ultimate dream job.
I ended up getting a job as an agronomist (greenskeeper) at the Bandon Preserve Golf Course, which was a 13-hole par 3 course sitting right on the Pacific Ocean. The beauty of this course was equal to that of Meadows.
|Hole #6 at Bandon Preserve
I worked at the Bandon Preserve course during the pandemic year of 2020. The good part of this was the course shut down for a month and I was able to work without golfers getting in the way — it was paradise.
The hard part about working at the Bandon Preserve was starting about 2 hours before dawn. We would put on our headlamps and work in the complete dark. Starting the job in January, the cold, wet, and stormy weather weren’t easy to deal with.
I did well at this second greenskeeping job, yet because I wasn’t willing to take a COVID test I had to quit and move on. This was unfortunate because they wanted me to mow the greens for the Bandon Trails course (we shared the maintenance shop with their crew) for the 2020 U.S. Amateur tournament — that is why we had to test.
We ended up moving back to Eastern Oregon after our year-long journey living on the coast. What I didn’t realize when moving to the coast is how badly it affected my health. The low elevation and frequencies from shifting weather patterns caused me to have issues with my blood and breathing.
We were glad to get back to the high country.
Christmas Valley Golf Course
I was thinking about going back to work for Meadows again when a greenskeeping job opened up locally in our small county. This was the golf course I grew up playing in high school called the Christmas Valley Golf Course — a 9-hole full-length par 36 course.
I ended up working this course for the next two years as the superintendent and only greenskeeper. It is the off-season now, yet I plan on coming back next year for the third season in a row.
|Christmas Valley Golf Course hole #8
Being a jack of all trades and a master of none most of my adult life, I’ve really enjoyed focusing on one trade. Being a greenskeeper is more than just mowing lawns as some people may think. It is a trade that requires skill and attention to detail; and to do well, it requires a love of golf courses and making them look beautiful.
Maybe being a greenskeeper isn’t what most people dream of doing because it doesn’t offer much prestige, power, or money, yet for me, it is a dream come true to get paid for spending time on these beautiful golf courses.
God even worked it out so I ended up working on the golf course I grew up playing as a teenager while dreaming of being a professional golfer. While it hasn’t been easy and the old rural course pales in comparison to the quality of Meadows and Bandon, it holds a special place in my heart and offers plenty of peace and tranquility throughout my working day.
The awesome job of being a golf course greenskeeper has come true for me and I’m very grateful it has. Working in this trade for the last 4 years has been a blessing and a dream come true.
Only months away from earning my BS in Human Services, I don’t know how long I will continue to be a greenskeeper, as it seems God may have other plans for my life down the road. Whatever the future may hold, I’m comforted knowing greenskeeping will always hold a special place in my heart and be there for me if needed.