Apr 19, 2024

Farewell to the Fairways: Thanks, Gord - Longtime Greenkeeper Hangs Up His Spikes

When I found out Gord MacMillan, the longtime Superintendent at Rideau View Golf Club, was retiring, I was upset and surprised. I've worked part-time at Rideau View, and for the last 10 years, I've listened to Gord start out each morning with our assignments with his rye sense of humour and candour. How could Gord be retiring? I have always associated working at Rideau View Golf Club with working with Gord. How could this be happening? 

A few weeks later, after absorbing the news, I sent Gord a text, wishing him all the best. That I would miss him and that I was happy he'd be able to actually do some fishing now. His response:

"I'll be 65, so I think it's time to enjoy the sunshine"

For 36 years, Gord has been at Rideau View, 34 of which has been spent as the Superintendent. When I asked Gord about what advice he would give someone looking to get into the agronomy side of the golf industry, knowing what he knows. His response was all Gord:

"I think the best advice I can give a young person is to ask themselves if they enjoy the outdoors, like the early morning and love the game of golf than you will never work a day in your life"

I loved talking to Gord each day working at Rideau View. An agronomist, scientist, and even a meteorologist rolled into one. Golf course superintendents are truly special people.

The next time you step onto a perfectly manicured course, take a moment to appreciate the unseen efforts of the golf course superintendent. Their dedication and expertise are what allow golfers of all levels to enjoy the game on a beautifully crafted stage.

Tim Moraghan sums it up beautifully in an article he did for Golf Course Industry, thanking golf course superintendents. 

Here is a heartfelt thanks for all you do. Which includes …

  • Getting the golf course prepared and ready every day. Rain or shine. Hot and cold. Sunup too sundown. 
  • Braving the elements and all the surprises Mother Nature has in her bag of tricks. 
  • Serving as your club’s Mr. Fix It. From turf to patio furniture, pump stations to driveway plowing, if it needs fixing, cleaning or tending, you do it. Big problem or small, you take care of it, which is a credit to your resourcefulness. 
  • Marrying an understanding spouse, someone who tolerates your late arrivals and early departures, and the last-minute realization that the family’s afternoon picnic will have to wait. 
  • Willingly sharing ideas, knowledge, and expertise with other supers, wanting nothing more than knowing you’ve helped make someone else’s course better. 
  • Accepting unjustified pay cuts to keep your job and keep the course open in the face of a wide range of economic woes. 
  • Being able to laugh when someone quotes – for the 5,000th time – a line from “Caddyshack,” even though it’s the worst possible representation of our profession. 
  • Forgiving the incredible stupidity, ignorance and selfishness of golfers. As evidence I offer: Unraked bunkers, unfixed ball marks, carts off paths, carts on tees, carts on greens, multiple divots, an aversion to filling those divots, leaving broken tees strewn over tee boxes, dragging their cleats across greens, driving over (or kicking and even club-smashing) sprinkler heads, pulling out plantings, breaking tree limbs, running over bunker rakes (as well as “No Carts” signs and ropes), using the course as a garbage can, and thinking that we’re nothing but overpaid lawn mowers. 
  • Listening – and smiling – while someone suggests a better way to do anything connected with course maintenance. 
  • Putting in hours of study, going to seminars, meeting with sales reps, sitting in board meetings and volunteering at any level. 
  • Remembering – at all times – that what we do is part of the great natural cycle, and taking extra caution not to harm the only environment we have. 
  • Being dedicated to your families (despite the demands of the job) and introducing your children to the golf course environment. 
  • Adhering to, recognizing and supporting the traditions of this wonderful game. We are the one industry that is not afraid to learn from those who have gone before us 
  • Fearing nothing. The golf course superintendent is always ready and willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.
Tim Moraghan, Principal, ASPIRE Golf (tmoraghan@aspire-golf.com). Follow Tim’s blog, Golf Course Confidential at http://www.aspire-golf.com/buzz.html or on Twitter @TimMoraghan

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