November 14, 2018
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'Turf' Guy

Sweat and grass stains — the hazards of maintaining a golf course

Tony Kemp’s day starts at 5:30 a.m. Fifteen minutes later, he wipes sweat from his brow. For the golf course superintendent, it will be the first of many wipes throughout the day. Kemp is familiar with the sticky, sweat-soaked summers in Evansville where his workweek typically runs about 60 hours. “When it’s hot and humid,” he says, “those are the times you earn your money.”

During those hours spent outside at Cambridge Golf Course, he combs more than 150 acres and examines every detail like a new father who counts the fingers and toes of his newborn baby, but Kemp isn’t a newbie. He landed the role of Cambridge supervisor a decade ago after weaving a trail of his work on numerous courses across the country.

Heading a 12-man seasonal staff, Kemp’s top priority is grass maintenance. Four different types of grass grow on the course. The greens are bent grass, the fairways and tees are zoysia, the roughs are fescue, and the mounds are a fine fescue blend called heather. “They all have different things they need to thrive,” Kemp says. “We mow the greens seven days a week, the fairways two or three days a week, and the tees three times a week.”

As summer’s end nears, Kemp and his crew — an assistant, a mechanic, and grounds crewmen — will return to a more manageable 40-hour workweek. Even during the winter, Kemp’s aim is the same: to keep the course beautiful. “If you’re a golfer, you know who’s got the best greens around town,” he says, ready for the challenge. “When you do it for 25 years, you better get good at it.”

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