Monday, November 30, 2015

About my work

Some of you have asked about my work. I have never wanted this space to be about work, so much of my life is work, I am my work, it is not just a job or a profession it is a way of life and so to find a space in my life where it doesn't seep into is rare. I would like to keep it out of here, I have debated about starting another blog for work but I barely seem to be able to keep this one up to date and I fear the work one would take over. I do follow a lot of golf course blogs just to stay in the loop of what's new in that field.

So, one post just to clarify what  I do, it does after all allow me to be here in Mexico so it does sort of factor into my life here as well. More so this year....

I worked at the High Level golf and country club (Fox Haven golf & Country club) for 9 years, the last 6 were as their superintendent.

Golf course superintendents don't choose this profession because of money, fame, glory or prestige. There is not a lot of money, you don't get credited for much, you get blamed for everything and most golfers see the super as the guy that is the cause of their bad golf game, he\she is liked about as much as a used car salesman. CNN money mag wrote an article listing a golf super as one of the most stressful jobs with low pay. As a super you are expected to deliver more than you have money for, depending on the size of the course you may have up to 300 club members, they all feel they own part of the course, they all have different ideas as to what the super should do with "their money". 

Any way.........stressful job. After 6 years I felt it was time to move on, I needed less stress, a lot less. However, I can never see me doing anything else, it's who  I am now. Being that there is only one course in High Level I knew it would mean a move. The question was, how do I keep my feet in the turf industry and get a position with less stress? This required a lot of prayer and meditation. (won't go into this)

I spent my time here last winter searching  the different golf super associations web sites and making new connections in the golf industry and consulting with some of my mentors and connections that  I had made over the years. The golf course industry is a very tight and open (if that makes sense) industry, we share a lot of information, there are experts in all the different fields within the turf side like your different equipment reps, your parts rep, your seed and fert rep, your soil test rep, your irrigation rep, your  reel sharpening rep, your safety rep,  and on and on. finding a golf course that is looking for employees is the easy part but to make  sure I wasn't jumping from the pot to the kettle I had to check them out and see what others in the industry had to say about them. Anyway.......i bounced around a few months and then it came to me. I will cut the story short here.  

Through phone interviews and emailing back and forth I was hired as a horticulturist at the Innisfail Golf & Country club. They are a big enough course to have a hort side as well as turf. (27 holes) I choose them because they are an Audubon certified course, that was the selling point. Not location, I had not wanted to be south of Edmonton, but this course just kept woeing me. The Audubon side of things would ensure that I would not be at a standstill, I could keep growing and learning, the hort side of things was new ground for me. Yet.....would never be as stressful as being the superintendent, and yet allow me to step over to the turf side once in awhile when needed....and trust me there is always a need for an extra hand there. I didn't have to give it up cold turkey. At the end of the season I was given the position of head horticulturist, I am now part of the management team, we are a team of 7.
Now, traditionally the horticulturist has always used her winters to plan and organize for the next season and I was not willing  to give up my winters here so a compromise was reached. I would do my planning and organizing from here, via the internet. We are set up  so I can even join in on staff meetings.

Audubon projects that I am working on are building habitats for Bat and butterflies.The course had already focused on birds in years past so my man focus this next season will be bats, butterflies and bees. Due to all the crop spraying in the south it is rare to see a butterfly and of course bees are in trouble everywhere. I am hoping  that the time will come when The Innisfail golf course will be known for its butterflies and bees. The biggest part of this is educating the people, the golfers, management, schools, the community leaders and of the course the media.

Another project of my mine, one that I am the most passionate about is guessed it. TREE PLANTING! I am hoping to create an awareness about the lack of trees and then get people fired up about changing that. This will be difficult to do, in the south, trees are not considered a commodity as they are in the north. In the north many people make their living in the logging industry so taking care of our forests is a high priority, not so in the south. I have my work cut out for me.

I do have some work to do, and I Iike it. It is interfering a wee bit with my beach time here but that is part of my compromise. I spend my  mornings designing and writing newsletters, planning garden and flower beds, rearranging them to invite bees and butterflies. Researching bats and designing displays and pamphlets.....and so on. 

That being said, less stress is good, however there is an offset. The job of a horticulturist is tough on the body it requires a lot of bending, kneeling, pushing pulling and bending, so much bending, so much that that is usually the cause of a short career. Luckily I am used to labor coming from the turf side of things so my body wasn't shocked, I do have to take better care of myself if I want this to last. I have been working on correcting an over extended rib (a rib flare) and an anterior pelvic tilt for some years now, but I haven't been very diligent about it but I need to take it seriously now. I have been working with a chiropractor  and a massage therapist and of course been doing my "homework" more diligently.

Oh ...... and I am supposed to use this winter to straighten out my golf swing.  Sigh.

By the way, if your dream is to winter in a warm place like this, a job at a golf course is the perfect fit, if it's a course that is not open in the winters. Remember golf courses have many departments, turf, hort, mechanics, food and beverage, admin, pro shop sales, receptionists, cleaning staff, there could be a job for you. Last season we had ages 16-78 seated at our lunch table daily, there really is a job for every age. The have to jump out of bed at 4 am, and you have to love it or you won't last the summer.

Every butterfly we see is a small victory

Ever single hole (all 27 of them) has flowers surrounding the signs, some holes have 2 flower beds, some have 3, but they all have at least 1. That's a lot of flowers

Bees are welcome too

Bees love cosmos and zinnias 

Bees are out friends

We have about 75 bird houses on the course all were occupied last season. We were at a NO VACANCY. Which means......we need more 

Our first bat house was hung last fall, waiting for winter residents.

Some golf humor

My all time favorite


Barbara Lane said...

Wow! Very, very interesting! Thank you for sharing about this. I'd have no idea, nary a clue, how to go about your job.

Contessa said...

Love this post. I had a very small idea of what you did....WOW!!! Now I know why you asked me about the zinnias in my park.

I really think you have a very special life, year round.