Turf News - A Day in the Life
28 SEP 2023
A DAY IN THE LIFE...
What Superintendents Christine Kumagai and Bill McAllister do from dawn to dusk till dawn!
The day in the life of 2 "grass growers" Christine Kumagai (Associate Superintendent) and Bill McAllister (Course Superintendent) at Rattlesnake Point starts early.. very early. That’s even relative to many other Superintendents.
Arrival to the course is usually between 4 and 4:30 am. Many of our staff are sometimes waiting for us to open the doors so that they can have a coffee and get going early to stay ahead of those fast early groups! I have trained myself to get up early even on my day off, I guess that’s what 35 years in the turf business will do to you. I love getting up early; it starts the day right. Seeing the course wake up with the sky lit up with colours of pink, purple, red, blue, peach and even that bright yellow, unless it’s a Saturday after a late Friday!
When I say a day in the life, it's just not real. There are no real ordinary days as everyone is different. VERY different. Things can change in a second when a greens mower breaks down, someone has the brown bottle flue or a thunderstorm hits us right when we are leaving the shop. We wear many hats, for example today it was pin changer, trainer, mechanic, CPA, writer, plumber, hydrologist, grass cutter, HS coordinator and motivator. Yesterday was electrician, physician, carpenter, counselor, referee, scientist, and faith healer. Cant wait to see what tomorrow brings! Most of what we were taught did not come from the schooling we took to get here. There are no real "text books" for what we do, but that’s what makes it fun and what makes me look forward to coming to work every day.
There are not many people in the world that actually like going to work. We are 2 of them. When running mid summer we have a crew of over 50 and the organizing and ensuring all tasks are accounted for on a 45 hole facility is daunting to say the least. Our "normal" day typically starts the day prior at around the 5 pm to do up the task board in preparation for the next day. Irrigations get set up at this time and then some paperwork (payroll, emails, records) to finish. I usually head for home between 4:30 pm and 5:30 pm but Christine is usually at her desk for another hour or so. Home, eat, maybe a walk, then bed.. and yes we both sleep exceptionally well as the alarm usually goes off at 3:30 am! I actually go for a quick swim to get the body moving and Christine most of the time beats me into opening the doors up for operators by 4:30 am. Then it all begins. Checking to see if irrigation systems ran properly, dealing with small equipment issues (oil a bit low, tires need inflating, no start issues, etc.), explanation to some staff on new tasks, checking weather, taking care of daily water and weather records and then get to get into the best office on earth.
We make every effort to check on operators with cut quality, do some training and working along side some crew members, making sure tee times are correct and that staff are not going to be caught by our first groups of the day. Ok, so now the sun is starting to come up! And it's usually beautiful, again the best office around! Here’s where there is a bit of reprieve from the insane starts. We get to check on everything to make sure we are flowing properly. We multi task by hand watering greens, doing some cutting, small irrigation repairs or some spraying. We check in with the starters and golf shop about golf cart ruling, any construction updates and frost delays. As the morning progresses, the radio calls start rolling in: dead skunk on the 10th hole, greens mower broken down on the 4th hole, tractor stuck on the 18th, or why is there a bunker rake machine left in the shop, a staff member didn’t show up for their shift! Never a dull moment.
Lunch hits around 11 am to 12 pm and by now most of our equipment operators are finished for the day. Most afternoons are nice as the fires to put out are quite a bit less. We now have a change to get caught up on issues we discovered in the morning. The odd irrigation repair, equipment issues or assisting mechanics with getting ready for the next day. The days fly by and most of the time 4 pm rolls around very quick and it's time to get back to the shop to begin shut down procedures; equipment away, doors locked, gas and lights off. Now back to doing up the next day tasks! It's kind of like ground hog day, but we wouldn't change a thing!
The best thing about being a Superintendent is the reward and the office. When things seem so crazy and the long days are getting tiring, well, we actually get to smell the roses and look at that beautiful sunrise and sometimes even sunset on our golf courses. I then get to say, wow things are actually pretty good and we have the best office around!
- Bill McAllister