Gauging the greens
AMHERST - Manicured greens and freshly cut fairways are every golfer's idea of heaven.
Creating that heaven on earth for Amherst golfers is Peter McCabe and his staff of six who make sure the course is in tip top shape for everyone who takes to the Amherst links.
Right now they are preparing the course for this weekends Men's Club Championship.
"We've been working late every day all week," McCabe said. "This week we'll cut the fairways six times instead of the usual four."
Putting in extra hours is nothing new to McCabe.
"I'm here at 5 a.m. seven days a week so I go to bed early and wake up early," McCabe said with a chuckle.
What's the reason for such dedication?
"I take pride in the course and I enjoy working here," McCabe said. "A day like today I drove a tractor for the last three hours. It's hot outside but it beats staring outside all day from an office window."
McCabe doesn't spend nearly as much time perfecting his own yard as he does the greens at the Amherst Golf Club.
"I have the worst lawn in the neighborhood," McCabe said with a laugh. "I honestly do.
"It's like a mechanic who has an old beat up car, when he gets home he doesn't want to work on his own car."
With that said, he does admit to having a nice vegetable garden at home.
He credits his staff for the great conditions at the course.
"I have had great luck with staff," McCabe said.
"I have three guys who have been here since I started in 1991. By keeping those same long-term staff year in and year out it builds a trust. I trust them and they trust me."
Besides McCabe, there are six guys and a girl who look after the course.
"Their level of experience allows them to take on any task the course throws at them," McCabe said. "That frees me up to spend more time to work on the greens. I really makes my life a lot easier."
Their level of experience also allows his staff to accomplish a lot of work in the run of a day.
"We have half the staff they have in Pugwash or Truro. They have 14 and we have 7."
"I had a girl working for us who used to work at Glen Harbour. They had 22 on staff" McCabe adds. "She couldn't believe the seven of us did what 22 did down there."
McCabe, who is 46 years old, began working on golf courses in 1980 in his hometown of Charlottetown.
"I worked at Bellvedere," McCabe said. "Then I went to agriculture college and worked with the department of agriculture for a year before I came here."
What did he find when he came to the Amherst Golf Club in 1991?
"I'd say it was a little rough when I came here. They mowed everything the same height." McCabe said. "Me and my staff have taken a course that was rough around the edges and turned it into a really good mid-level facility."
The golfers agree.
Defending Club Champion Mark Gould has played on some of the great Canadian golf courses and he loves the course at the Amherst Golf Club.
"For what this course has and the membership it has, this course is exceptional," Gould said. "And I dare anyone to say differently.
"The grounds crew here is second to none," Gould added.
"I've been to a lot of courses and there's nobody with the amount of money Pete has to work with who has their course in as good a shape as he has - and nobody works harder. This course is in awesome shape."
McCabe golfs about two rounds a week so he can experience the course hims
"I'm an average golfer but I enjoy it," McCabe said. "And I see a lot when I golf. I'm always taking mental notes on work that needs to be done."
And what hole is McCabe most proud of?
"My favouriite hole on the golf course is number 10," McCabe said. "It's a great golf hole, it's really well thought out. We rebuilt the green about ten years ago."
He is also proud of the the rest of the course.
"With a small budget and a small staff we'll never be perfect - there will always be things we can't be too fussy about.," McCabe said.
"But we try to get the best finished product with the limited resourses we have to work with. Like I said before, I'm lucky to have a great staff.
This weekend's men's club championship begins Saturday at 7 a.m.