Q: Please describe your job. 

A: As superintendent of the Cape Arundel Golf Club, I’m responsible for the care and maintenance of a semi-private, 100-acre golf course. I oversee a staff of about 15 employees from April to November and about three staffers during winter months when the club is closed. 

Q: How long on the job? 

A: This will be my 10th season at Cape Arundel. 

Q: Where did you work previously? 

A: As an assistant golf course superintendent for five years in Greenwich, Conn. I got that job right out of college. 

Q: How did you get into this line of work?

A: Through a family connection. My uncle was a golf course supervisor on Cape Cod and I worked with him there for a summer when I was 18. But I knew, from age 12, that this was the field I wanted to work in. I’d been golfing since age five. I did landscaping work in my junior year of high school. And, I wanted a job were I could work outside and enjoy nature. So, I went to college at Penn State for four years to earn my bachelors degree in turf grass science. 

Q: Is this a limited or difficult career field to find work in?

A: Yes. It’s pretty specialized. To get a position at a course (of this caliber) is difficult. There were about 180 applicants, from all over the country, who applied for this job. 

Q: What kind of training is required? 

A: I had to take a lot of biology, chemistry, business management and economics courses as part of my studies before I ever got into turf science. I have to stay current in the science, including for being licensed for pesticide application. I’m always learning something new and the on-the-job training has been invaluable. 

Q: What’s a typical day on the job like for you?

A: My morning crew is up and ready to groom and mow the greens by 5:45 a.m. each day to get out ahead of the golfers. Then, I’m responsible for chemical and fertilization application on the course and irrigation maintenance. We have a system of 1,000 irrigation sprinklers on the course that all run off of clocks. Those sprinkler heads have to be checked often to make sure they are working properly. The irrigation system is also connected to a lightning storm detection system – all of it connected to a computer program that I can monitor from my cell phone. You really have to stay on top of it. Lightening is attracted to power and wires. If the lighting strikes one of the irrigation clocks, and finds its way into our central computer system it can be catastrophic.

Q: Tell me about the lightning detection system.

A: It alerts us of thunderstorms that are coming in from 40 miles away. When a storm system is within five miles away, we actually sound a siren alerting golfers to clear the course for their own safety. After the storm, when the system detects the last lightning strike is five miles past us, the alarm sounds again to signal an all clear to resume play. It’s pretty high tech and pretty cool. 

Q: Is weather a big factor in your line of work?

A: Absolutely. It dictates when we can begin playing in the spring and how often we need to water. If the ground is frozen, you can ruin the grass if you walk on it. Our biggest challenge is managing water, trying to get rid of excesses of it on a course or adding it in dry periods. We keep the grass height at exactly 1/8th of an inch on the greens. So, on a very hot day, the grounds need to be watered more often to keep the grass from burning. 

Q: So your crew mows every day? 

A: Yes. The course is 100 aces and we also have a 15-acre practice facility we just opened strictly for hitting balls. The greens are mowed every day, while the fairways and tee boxes get mowed about three times per week and the rough gets mowed once a week. We maintain a fleet of 140 pieces of course-grooming equipment, including several different types of mowers, each responsible for mowing certain sections of the course to an exact height. Those machines have to be maintained, changing the oil and sharpening the blades, which we also do. 

Q: Do you also maintain the club’s fleet of golf carts?

A: No. We actually lease those with a maintenance package. 

Q: What other kinds of grounds work do you do?

A: We do a small amount of landscape work around the club house and patch divots from (errant golf swings). 

Q: Do you have to regularly fish balls out of the drink?

A: No. We don’t do that. But water is a factor. The Kennebunk River comes into play on at least eight holes and there are two ponds on the course. 

Q: Do you get to play golf at there regularly?

A: Not much. I have a young family at home and sometimes I’m here working 12 hours per day. I do use my golf clubs but only as a test to see how well the course is playing (as part of our grooming work). We just completed a restoration project to rebuild a bank of tee boxes and several bunkers on the course, install the irrigation system and reshape the fairways. 

Q: What are the challenges of your job?

A: Trying to keep the course play at its best for each of our 250 members. We’re a short, par 69 course with a very undulating green. At Cape Arundel, the game is won or lost on the greens. Most challenging are the putting greens. It’s relatively easy to get there but challenging to make par. 

Q: Do you ever meet any famous people there?

A: I’ve met both president Bushes, President Clintion. Tom Brady, Phil Mickelson, Brad Faxon and Ray Bourque from the Boston Bruins. But, my personal favorite was meeting Louis Tiant.