At RattleSnake Point Golf Club in Milton, a new day begins with the first rays of dawn, and Superintendents Christine Kumagai (Associate Superintendent) and Bill McAllister (Course Superintendent) are right there, ensuring that the greens are in perfect condition before the first golfers arrive. Their daily routine is not for the faint-hearted, and it starts earlier than most can imagine.
Usually, their arrival at the course is between 4:00 and 4:30 in the morning. In the early hours, they often find their staff eagerly awaiting them, ready for a quick coffee and to commence the day's tasks. After 35 years in the turf business, early mornings have become second nature to them, even on days off. The allure of watching the course come to life with the vibrant hues of the morning sky, painted with shades of pink, purple, red, blue, peach, and that brilliant yellow, is a captivating sight, except for the occasional late Friday, which can make Saturday mornings a tad challenging!
Describing their workday as 'a day in the life' doesn't quite do justice to the unpredictable nature of their roles. Every day is a unique adventure, filled with surprises. One moment, they could be dealing with a malfunctioning greens mower, or coping with an unexpected thunderstorm just as they're about to leave the equipment shop. Their job requires them to don many hats - from being pin changers, trainers, and mechanics to CPAs, writers, and plumbers, or even hydrologists, grass cutters, and HS coordinators. The list is endless, and each day brings a fresh set of challenges and opportunities, making it an exciting journey.
The beauty of their work lies in its uniqueness and the absence of 'textbooks' for guidance. Much of what they've learned and mastered has been through hands-on experience rather than conventional schooling. It's precisely this aspect that makes their job enjoyable and keeps them looking forward to each day.
In a world where many dread the thought of going to work, Christine and Bill are among the rare few who genuinely love what they do. During the peak summer season, they manage a crew of over 50 individuals, and coordinating and overseeing tasks on a 45-hole facility is a monumental task. Their 'normal' day often begins the evening before, around 5 pm, as they prepare task boards and set up irrigation. This is followed by some paperwork, including payroll, emails, and record-keeping. Typically, Bill heads home between 4:30 pm and 5:30 pm, while Christine often continues working at her desk for another hour. After a quick evening routine, they both hit the sack early, knowing that the alarm will ring at 3:30 am. Bill prefers to start his day with a swim to wake up his body, while Christine is usually at her desk by 4:30 am to open the doors for the equipment operators. This marks the beginning of a new day, filled with checks on irrigation systems, handling minor equipment issues, training staff, and ensuring tee times are accurate.
As the sun starts to rise, their 'office' becomes even more breathtaking, with the golf course bathed in the soft morning light. There's a brief respite from the morning rush, allowing them to attend to various tasks, from hand-watering greens to equipment maintenance, small irrigation repairs, and even spraying. They also keep tabs on the golf shop and starters, gathering information about golf cart regulations, construction updates, and potential frost delays.
As the morning advances, the radio comes alive with a string of diverse requests and reports, from removing a dead skunk on the 10th hole to rescuing a stranded greens mower or tractor on the 18th. The job is filled with surprises, and there's never a dull moment.
Lunchtime arrives between 11 am and 12 pm, by which time most equipment operators have completed their tasks for the day. The afternoons are typically calmer, allowing them to address issues discovered in the morning, such as irrigation repairs or equipment maintenance. Time flies, and before they know it, it's 4 pm, signaling the start of their daily shutdown procedures - storing equipment, securing the premises, and turning off lights and gas. Then it's time to plan for the next day, creating a Groundhog Day-like rhythm that they wouldn't trade for anything.
The most rewarding aspect of being a Superintendent is the joy of their work and their magnificent 'office.' Despite the chaos and long hours, they never fail to appreciate the breathtaking sunrises and sometimes sunsets on their golf courses. These moments serve as reminders that they truly have the best office in the world.
Bill McAllister, Course Superintendent at RattleSnake Point