Keeping the course green

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 29, 2000

Barney Schoby Jr. can usually be found in the afternoons walking around the Duncan Park Golf Course with a weed trimmer in his hands.

&uot;I get done with mowing and grab a Weedeater,&uot; Schoby said. &uot;It’s my best friend.&uot;

Schoby and his best friend have become well acquainted in the five months he has worked as a groundskeeper at Duncan Park.

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The weed trimmer is an important part of keeping the golf course looking good, but it also helps the score of Duncan Park golfers, Schoby said.

Schoby uses the weed cutter to trim grass around ponds and other areas on the course which cannot be mowed.

&uot;That’s where nine out of every 10 balls go,&uot; Schoby said. &uot;They go in the ditches and the rough areas.&uot;

Schoby said clean ditches help golfers find golf balls.

Harvey Bryant is also part of the weed trimmer patrol at Duncan Park.

&uot;They (golfers) go in the rough looking for their ball,&uot; Bryant said. &uot;They find three or four balls but not their’s.&uot;

One of Bryant’s pet projects has been keeping the bank around the small pond on the 10th fairway clear.

&uot;Six guys came up to me this morning (Friday) and told me how much they appreciated that bank being clean,&uot; Bryant said.

Appreciation from players is what both Bryant and Schoby said keeps them going.

&uot;Especially around tournament time,&uot; Schoby said. &uot;They always come up and tell us how good the golf course looks.&uot;

Keeping the golf course fun is what drives Bryant.

&uot;I try to keep the course enjoyable,&uot; he said. &uot;When I work on the weekends, I try to hide the pins and keep the green slick.&uot;

And keeping the green in order is top priority.

&uot;The greens come first,&uot; Harvey said. The grass on those greens is short – very short.

Joe Green, Duncan Park’s head greenskeeper, said the grass on the greens is shaved to 5/32 of an inch. Carpet is taller than 5/32 of an inch.

As Green crouched under a sprayer on the green-stained floor of the equipment shed at Duncan Park Friday, he said he was in his favorite place.

&uot;I like working on the equipment,&uot; Green said. &uot;It is cooler in here.&uot;

The tool shed and the cart barn were not originally designed for what they are being used for now.

Duncan Park Pro Marvin Gray said the cart barn was an old library.

But like much of the rest of the Duncan Park facility, the object is to do the best with what is available.

&uot;We’re on a low budget,&uot; Gray said. &uot;We have four people working on the course where most courses have 10 to 15.&uot;

Being creative with manpower and resources are an important part of Gray’s job.

&uot;During the busy time of the year if we have a major storm we have to find a way to clear the damage,&uot; Gray said. &uot;We may have to call in help from other departments, but we usually get it done.

&uot;We never have everything we need – we have to fill the void some way.&uot;

Gray and his staff have been working hard to fill the voids they find, and the work may be paying off.

In 1997, 16,885 rounds were played on the Duncan Park Golf Course. Gray expects that number to increase beyond the 50 percent it has in the last three years.

The rounds-per-year numbers began to increase a few years after nine more holes were added to the original nine holes on the course.

The original nine – now the back nine – were built in 1928. The new nine were built in 1993.

The difference between the two greens – other than age – boils down to grass.

There are two different types of grass in the fairways and greens on the back nine, and those two types of grass are different than the grass on the front nine.

Plus, there is no irrigation on the back nine.

When Bryant and Schoby get tired of dealing with the four different grasses, they break out the golf clubs.

&uot;When I cut the first and the ninth fairways, I have to hit the range balls back into the driving range,&uot; Bryant said. &uot;I get to work on my swing -&160;working on perfection.&uot;

Schoby said he wished he would have started playing golf when he was younger.

&uot;It’s addictive,&uot; Schoby said.