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Grounds crew a big part of golf course’s success

If it weren’t for the skilled grounds crew members at the TS&M Woodlawn Golf Course, the course wouldn’t look as good as it does, and it wouldn’t be as enjoyable to play.
Golf Course pic
The TS&M Woodlawn Golf Course is in terrific shape, thanks to the efforts of its groundskeepers.

If it weren’t for the skilled grounds crew members at the TS&M Woodlawn Golf Course, the course wouldn’t look as good as it does, and it wouldn’t be as enjoyable to play.

Ten people work in the department, which typically has around a dozen people, but has had as many as 14. Some of them are young people, but there will also be some retired workers or others who are between jobs.

“You never really know who you’re going to have, although we have not had much turnaround for the last six years. Most of them are people who will start with us at the end of high school and then work through their university time,” said Bob Currie, who is the course superintendent.

Currie has held the role since 2006. Estevan marked his first gig as a head greens keeper; prior to coming here, he had spent eight years at Golf Kenosee and one year at Fairmont Banff Springs.

He started working as a greens keeper as a teen during the summer months, and never left the job.

“I enjoy that there is such a variety of things to do,” he said. “After 20-plus … years, there is never a season or a week or a month that have been the same.”

As the course superintendent, he’s responsible for the hiring of staff members, who have to tend to the fertility of the plants, mowing the grass and looking after the equipment.

“Basically it’s anything that happens outside, from ordering the sand for bunkers to the fertilizer for grass, to parts and equipment to budgeting, to figuring out what we’re going to spend and what we need to spend to do what we’re going to do, to the PR work from within my own department to communications with the inside staff as well,” he said.

Regardless of whether they’re hosting daily play or tournaments, there’s a lot of work for the staff. Currie said they love to hear compliments about the condition of the course.

“There’s a lot of stuff behind the scenes that a lot of people don’t see, just because we start so early in the morning. Half of our day is done before a lot of people climb out of bed,” he said.

“We’ve had a really good year so far. We’ve had problems with one green, but other than that, the course had been in very good shape.”

Due to the ongoing pandemic, the greens keepers have not been sharing jobs as much. Most years they will do a little bit of everything but they’re trying to limit the touch points. Employees get to do the same job each day now.

“It works well in some ways but you get a little tired of it in other ways. All in all it has not affected us a whole bunch, other than the plain and simple fact that the course has been so steady with players, sometimes we have trouble finding places to work without interfering with people’s needs.”

With fewer activity options for people, the golf course is a good choice, and they’re eager to get out on the links and see how well-maintained the course is.

“I have a really good team to work with, right from the top to bottom, from our kids who just started working on the range, up to our board members and staff and other management team. We just have a great bunch of people to work with. They let us do what we need to do, and work with us to give us the time to do it.”