I’ve been working on golf courses for 27 years. Every winter, without fail, I am asked the same question when I tell some people what I do for a living: “what do you do in the winter?” If I were not in this industry I would have trouble imagining what is done on a snow and ice covered huge plot of land. After all, no one in Michigan is mowing their lawn or planting flower beds during those cold months
Following are some examples of the off-season work that is paramount to the success of a golf course…
Mechanic, Dave Yeager, is hard at work overhauling the entire fleet of equipment. He has quite the winter work load. Over one hundred machines get overhauled and tuned up from December 1st to the beginning of April. Dave prides himself as a problem solver… he often, in the winter, implements new ideas and techniques to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of daily work at the UMGC.
Arborists, Dean Noworyta and Steve LeDuc, are sawing away. Every winter, there are many trees on the course that demand attention. Some have run their life course, some have diseases, some need dead growth pruning, some are overgrown and their root systems are compromising the integrity of our original 1930 greens. The trees that require work are identified throughout the growing season, the information is compiled and a master plan is set in place before the winter even hits. It seems like a brutal job but the project is perfectly suited for the winter: frozen turf is beneficial because it allows the use of large equipment and the felling of large trees (without destroying playing surfaces.) Also, if anyone has ever been a lumberjack before, you know that you sweat no matter the temperature and work up quite the appetite (lumberjacks are known to burn up to 5000 calories a day).
Snow crew leader, Mark Richards, is in charge of snow removal for the athletic campus. The golf course is used throughout the winter in different capacities… as a parking lot for games at Crisler Arena and as a space for meetings and events. It is also the new home of Event Management. The safety of our guests and employees is of the upmost importance to the department. That being said, snow removal is a consistent responsibility that requires a lot of man power every week during the winter.
At the UMGC we have hundreds of golf carts—but none more important than the maintenance fleet. They take a beating every year hauling equipment and materials, pulling trailers and driving over rough terrain. On average, they get 3500 miles put on them every summer. They need body work and paint every winter.
The Weisfeld Family Practice Center is one of the newest buildings on athletic campus. It houses the university Men’s and Women’s golf teams and is available to them year round for training purposes. Every morning, Greenskeeper Steve Plunkett, maintains the facility. This includes brushing, cleaning and rolling the artificial turf in the indoor putting/chipping bay and making sure that the student athletes can train in perfect conditions throughout the whole facility.