Garden City Telegram Pro-Am 2013 Special Section - page 9

THE GARDEN CITY TELEGRAM
9
TUESDAY, August 6, 2013
Crew: Maintenance men play big role in success of SW Ks. Pro-Am
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Welcome to the 34th Annual
SW Kansas Pro-Am
216696
be towing in,” he said.
Greens and tee mowers are 16-
horse gas. Push mowers are single
cylinder. Fairway and rough mow-
ers are all diesel. Trimmers and
edgers are two-cycle mixes.
“So far we haven’t had any-
thing we couldn’t work through,”
Mathias said. “The biggest chal-
lenge is too many time the season-
al help, the younger helpers, don’t
really understand the equipment.
A simple thing is always mak-
ing sure there’s a gas-oil mixture;
too many times the kids will just
think everything is just straight
gas.”
Another challenge is work-
ing around the golfers. It seems
like we’re just part of the scen-
ery. A golfer will never hit into
another golfer, but hitting into
maintenance is not an issue, he
explained.
In winter time, every machine
is basically rebuilt, Mathias said,
put back into new condition so
it will run the full season. By the
time the grass goes dormant those
machines are pretty worn out.
Much of the equipment at
Buffalo Dunes is running in the
4,000-hour range, Mathias said.
The manufacturer suggests 3,000
hours. Some
mowers
are
running
5,000
h o u r s
andstill
running
fine. It’s
all about
p rope rl y
maintaining
what they already have, he said.
“We’d like to buy brand new,”
he said. “Greens mowers run
$23,000. When a simple mower is
the price of an automobile, it’s
getting kind of crazy.”
The Golf Club at Southwind
Sullivan’s full-timers are multi-
functional, given the nature of the
Southwind situation.
Not only are they working on
the golf course, they also take
care of the needs of the residents
in the development.
That ranges from fixing sprin-
klers, snow removal, maintain-
ing the pool, and a host of other
duties.
Sullivan, who has been at
Southwind for 11 years, said it
usually takes about a summer to
get someone trained to the point
of being able to turn him loose on
his own.
“But I’m lucky,” he added.
“Five of them have been here at
this course 11 years, also.”
Add to that the experience of
retired Buffalo Dunes superinten-
dent Bob Bluml, who works part-
time.
Sullivan uses those combined
years of experience to his advan-
tage when it comes time for sched-
uling the Pro-Am duties.
“We’ll have every single day
laid out for who’s mowing what,
what direction we’re mowing on
the fairways,” he said. “Bob will
figure out each day which direc-
tion to mow greens, and I’ll usu-
ally send a roller out right behind
him.”
Sullivan said his staff knows
he will have everything scheduled
so all they have to do is know what
mower to be on at what time.
Following a season of tour-
naments, culminating with the
Pro-Am, Sullivan said everyone
— including the golf course —
needs a break for winter.
His staff runs older but well-
maintained equipment, he said,
but most have run it for so long
they know each
p i e c e
intricately.
If some-
t h i n g
i s n ’ t
f e e l -
ing or sounding right, they
get it to the shop, where 20-year
veteran Gene West can get it on
the lift and diagnose the issue.
Having an experienced staff,
Sullivan added, has finally
allowed him to feel comfort-
able in the last three years in
taking leaves of absence and
not being too concerned about
operations.
“Technology has helped a
lot, too. I can run my sprinkler
system from my cell phone, so
if I’m in Scottsdale, Ariz., I can
still control things and it gives
me great peace of mind,” he
said.
When the course goes dor-
mant, Sullivan still keeps his
staff busy. Besides maintain-
ing the development’s 300-plus
units, parks and entrances and
keeping the course running, the
shop has set up a reel grinding
business that services 15 area
courses, a far cry from the one
or two courses he expected.
West and the crew tear apart
each machine from each course,
grind the blades, then re-assem-
ble everything, replacing parts
as necessary.
“I get new toys out of it,”
Sullivan said, as revenue from
that project is enough to buy a
new mower or roller each year.
Some of his mowers have
over 6,000 hours of run time,
Sullivan added, but proper
maintenance keeps them in
good running condition, which
saves money in the long run.
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