For most high schoolers, summer is seen as a time to relax and recuperate after a grueling 10 months of school.
For Grant Slocombe, summer days start at the crack of dawn, long before the sun is up and the rest of the town has begun to stir. The soon to be Grade 11 student is on his bike and off to the Prince Rupert Golf Course, where he has spent the summer working as a greenskeeper.
“I like to drive standard, and there’s standard vehicles here, so that was a neat fit,” Slocombe explains as one of the reasons he is sacrificing his potential summer sleep.
The days start early, and no two are ever the same.
“I arrive here at 6 a.m. and we get our assignments for the day,” Slocombe explains. “It could be a variety of things, I could be told to roll greens, mow the rough, pull off tee boxes and approaches, or filling divots.”
And of course being located in Prince Rupert, the work is all weather.
“You get to find out who has the best rain gear,” Slocombe jokes. “We’ve been out on days where there’s puddles everywhere and the crew has gone home soaked. But it’s a really rewarding feeling to be able to see a job well done at the end.”
|Grant Slocombe gets set to take the Toro out for a day’s work. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)|
Making the task more difficult this summer was having to deal with a smaller than usual grounds crew. Greens superintendent Peter Drake recently left his position for an opportunity in Revelstoke, placing even more demand on the remaining crew. In Slocombe’s view though, this afforded the group an opportunity.
“It keeps us motivated to keep working hard,” Slocombe said. “It’s really nice to see that even though we’re such a small crew, we’re still performing at an unbelievable rate of efficiency.”
Maintenance work is not the only thing that attracted Slocombe to the course. The past year saw him develop a new relationship with the sport, one that led to him joining the Charles Hays golf team.
|In addition to working at the course, Slocombe joined the Charles Hays golf team earlier this year. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)|
Under the tutelage of newly arrived golf pro Tyler Stene, Slocombe, and several other athletes at the high school, quickly developed or strengthened their interest in the game.
“It’s been a great experience,” Slocombe said. “He’s really helped develop all of us to become better, and to push us to become the best we can.”
“It’s a neat game because it requires skill, it’s not as simple as smacking a ball off the tee,” Slocombe has learned. “You have to learn not to hit the ball as hard as you can. You’re not trying to kill it, you have to be a little more delicate with it, and it requires a little finesse.”
|Slocombe has shown up for work all summer at 6 a.m., working a full day’s shift to keep the course in peak condition. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)|
The job has also given Slocombe a new appreciation for all the work that goes into making sure conditions are set when players tee off.
“I really started to realize what kind of effort it takes to run a place like this,” Slocombe said. “It’s not always automatic perfect grass every day.”
This can especially be the case on the first hole of the day, which features the “toboggan hill.”
“Learning how to go up hole one without spinning out or losing traction,” Slocombe says of one of the more challenging terrains on the course. “The first time I didn’t get around it and then you spin out. So you learn pretty quick that you need to get a good run at it to make it up.”
Back in the maintenance yard on the outskirts of the course, Slocombe and his co-workers arrive back after a long day making sure the links are playing perfect. After parking the various vehicles used to perform their tasks, the group collects their belongings from the trailer, and gets ready to do it all over again tomorrow.
Alex Kurial | Sports Reporter
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