Growing Appreciation

As an avid player, and now as a course maintenance worker, my appreciation for golf just keeps growing (like turf).

Dad bought me my first set of clubs in England when I was about 12. I recall playing a few rounds at pitch-n-putts there. Then back in Canada as a teenager I played a little at the Wildwood golf course in Saskatoon. It wasn’t until my late twenties that I began playing in earnest; and my passion for the game set in (like a tick).

It wasn’t just about learning to strike the ball and the countless types of shots, it was (is) also about the “golf course”. The game would be fantastic enough if each course was the same, but (surprise!) every course is unique (in design, terrain, and scenery). Furthermore, course and weather conditions are always changing, so the same course is never quite the same. What a game! Verdant green rolling fairways defined by long rough, bunkers at key locations, water hazards looming here and there, tees and their surrounds, Greens and their surrounds, trees, gardens,  are all components akin to paint on an artist’s palette used by the course designer to realize their vision.

So, in no time my appreciation for golf in all its beauty and nuance began to grow – from a player’s perspective. Then in 2014, I began working on the grounds crew at Kelowna Springs and found my appreciation growing from an entirely new perspective (a crews’-eye view if you will). I have learned that keeping a course in tip-top condition, as at the Springs, requires the thoughtful effort of each member of our maintenance team.

I’ve learned our course is only as good as the collective effort of our maintenance team. I see three core components to the team. First, our Superintendent (Gilbert LeBlanc) and Assistant Superintendent (Travis Hirkala) provide leadership and coordination based on their professional education and years of experience. Second, our mechanic (Fredi) keeps our equipment in tip-top condition – no easy task in my view considering the rigorous work it performs. Third, individual crew members perform their assigned work to maintain and enhance the course. The result of this collective effort provides a top conditioned course that consistently provides our members and guests with the best golf course experience they can have.

As a player I thought my appreciation of the game could only grow by playing different courses. I never imagined working on the crew could grow my appreciation (and love) this much.

The world calls soccer “The Beautiful Game”. Having played as a kid in England and as a youth in Canada I can’t disagree; it is a beautiful game. But I think it’s time golf got its due. I don’t think golf is just another four letter word. I think it’s time we called golf what it is “The Exquisite Game”. (Which makes golf just a bit better than footy – plus there are no golf hooligans!).

Blair Lischeron, KSGC Grounds Crew (since April, 2014)