KENILWORTH, N.J. – You often can’t see or hear them. They’re the unsung heroes that care for the courses you play and love day in and day out.

The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) is set to celebrate Thank a Golf Course Superintendent Day on September 13th, which also marks the GCSAA’s 96th anniversary. The New Jersey State Golf Association is appreciative of superintendents and grounds crew personnel for all their hard work and dedication, creating spectacular and enjoyable playing conditions at golf courses across the Garden State. 

The 2022 golf season presented superintendents with various obstacles, one of the biggest being the extreme heat and drought. In one of the most intense heat waves in recent history, superintendents were responsible for navigating the situation and keep their courses in excellent condition, as usual. 

Although it sounds as easy as throwing water on an overly dry rough and fairway, the role requires much more than meets the eye. Clubs are allotted only a certain amount of water useage per month, creating a challenge for superintendents. The lack of water availability can result in short-and long-term issues for a golf course.

“Since the middle to the end of June, I think we've almost watered every single night, which is a little more than 250,000 gallons a night,” said Lance Rogers, Colonia Country Club Superintendent.

When all components of the golf course, including the landscaping, begins to suffer, there is a science in which superintendents determine what parts of the course require prioritizing over others. As you can guess, greens, fairways and tee boxes meet the greatest needs. 

Luckily, the Garden State saw some relief from the intense heat, as the the recent rain has been miraculous for superintendents.

“I was very happy,” said Jill Seymour, Golf Course Superintendent at Charleston Springs South. “It is absolutely amazing what natural rain could do, because my course right now is just glowing green.”

Despite the obstacles superintendents faced this season, they prevailed, providing golfers, both public and private with a top-notch experience.

Rob Schipper, Director of Grounds at Canoe Brook Country Club has voiced that without his crew, the 36-hole facility wouldn’t be in its remarkable shape it is well known for.  

“There's 45 people in the grounds department in the middle of the summer,” explained Schipper. “It's easy to see that we can accomplish a lot when we work well together and we're efficient. It’s the complete opposite when things aren't going good and we’re not sharing crews and equipment and working around tournaments and schedules and weather, then things they don't go well.”

Canoe Brook CC Grounds Crew

Schippers crew is made up of both men and women and the way they work together is integral to the success of the club.

“The important thing for myself and my staff is communication. Communicating with staff on our goals and being prepared for whatever is coming our way and then communicating with our membership.”

Seymour has been at Charleston for seven years where she oversees both full-time and seasonal employees. The irrigation coverage is minimal on the South Course, so Seymour has had to utilize her resources to the best of her ability.

Jill Seymour, Charleston Springs Golf Course - South Superintendent

“I only have one irrigation pond that's fed by one well. Unfortunately, I can't move any water around my golf course from my three other ponds,” explained Seymour. “What I get in my irrigation pond is basically it. Two and a half months, three months ago, I turned my well on and I literally just turned it off last Friday (9/2) before the rain. So, it's been running nonstop.”

The job requires early mornings and often late afternoons, which would turn many off, but it is apparent these first-class professionals love what they do.

“Coming in first thing in the morning, no matter how bad things are or how dry or whatever the issues you're having, you come in at 5:30 in the morning and you pull up on a golf course and it's just golf,” explained Rogers. “It's the best a golf course will ever look. It's the first thing in the morning. There’s deer walking around and foxes running around. It’s just peaceful. I don't think there's anything better than that.”

“They don't even know that we're out there. We’re out in the dark in the morning with headlights on, just to get everything ready for the first tee time,” said Seymour. “It's what we sign up for. It's our job. Every morning we go out, we do our best to make the best product for our golfers.”

And although working on the golf course is their primary responsibility, that doesn’t change the fact that it takes two sides to keep a golf course in pristine shape.

“We love having golfers out there,” expressed Seymour. “We need golfers to keep up with their etiquette. Some new golfers out there, they don't necessarily always have the etiquette where they're filling their divots or fixing ball marks and stuff like that. So, it's creating a lot more work for us, trying to keep things nice and neat for them. So, just hoping the golfers continue to learn the etiquette of the game as well as the game itself, and help us out where they can.”

If you see your local superintendent on the course, wave, say hi, and say thank you because the courses you love and play on a daily basis wouldn’t be in the shape they are without these relentless golf caretakers.

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