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Paul MacCormack


If you ask anyone who works within the turf industry to give you a reason why they love working on a golf course, the answers may vary. Teamwork, dedication to the craft, the sense of pride in what a crew accomplishes, and attention to detail are common responses. But if you look across the spectrum of turf professionals, from Superintendents and Course Managers, to Assistant Superintendents and foremen/women, to Irrigation Technicians and yes, even Equipment technicians, one answer comes through more often than the rest… being outside in the early morning.

When asked why greenkeeping is such a special craft, all of the above-mentioned folks invariably come back to the mornings. They get a faraway look in their eyes, and wax poetically about how special it is to be out on their respective courses just as the sun rises. It’s an ethereal thing, hard to pin down and even more difficult to explain. 

Something deep and serene touches many of us when we are out on a golf course early in the morning. There is a sense of solitude and inner peace as we watch a property shake the sleep from its eyes and wake to life. Listening to the birds and animals stirring, watching the dew glisten on the turf and wildflowers, and being quiet as the early morning fog burns off brings an almost spiritual quality the early hours. You embody a sense of presence most readily attuned to early in the morn. 

Something deep and serene touches many of us when we are out on a golf course early in the morning...

Being on a golf property while most of the rest of the world still sleeps has a special quality of quieting the mind’s usual chatter. There is an unspoken connection between all golf course workers which only reveals itself early in the morning. The stillness brings with it a sense of peace and ease, one that settles our nervous systems and allows a sense of clarity to emerge as the day begins. 

Ask any farmer, fisher or anyone who works in close connection to the earth and they will recognize the morning experience. There is something deep and ancient within us that becomes fully realized when we are quiet enough to listen to the land. When we are still enough to be fully present with the natural world, it opens us to a sense of connection with all.  

This is often times the part of the game that golfers don’t fully appreciate on a cerebral level, but deep down they know this connection to be true.

This is often times the part of the game that golfers don’t fully appreciate on a cerebral level...

Golf’s deep connection to the land extends back to the dawn of the game of itself. It’s a sport that has always been intertwined with the natural world and nature is an integral part of the game. The elements of wind, rain, and temperature each play a distinct role in how a course plays on any given day. The game itself hinges on the weather, and how well a player does on any given day is predicated on their ability to accept and play within the parameters that nature offers. The game has evolved in concert with nature.  From the first bunkers being scraped out by burrowing animals looking for shelter, to the shifting nature of the dunes on the earliest links courses, the game in its purest form has always been in communion with the natural world.

It’s also worth reflecting on this early natural connection with respect to the modern game and how we have come to manage our properties with all of the technology and inputs at our disposal. In the larger picture it bears considering, how well do we currently work in concert with nature? Are we bent on controlling all the elements and variables? Are we constantly seeking to almost remove the variance of nature from the equation?  Are we willing to allow the rhythms of the natural world to dictate much of what we do or are we taking things too far and pushing our cultural practices and inputs beyond what is reasonable in order to satisfy unrealistic expectations?  These are questions worth pondering as nature offers great beauty and sustenance to all living things.  In order to honour these gifts we must pay closer attention to the rhythms the natural world moves to without any interference from us.

So the next time you are out on the links as the sun rises, pause. Pause for a spell and breathe deeply. Feel the sense of presence and connection with both the natural world and all of your sisters and brothers who are all experiencing the same sunrise. Let this moment offer clarity and focus, and a sense that we are all in this together. 

Take care and thanks for reading.

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Two things. First, when a friend was asked about playing golf a particular very windy day his simple response was: "its just part of the game that day". A lot of wisdom there, like your post today. Secondly, a morning that sticks in my mind was during my second summer working on a course. The fog was so thick you couldn't see much past a particular green. The feeling that day was remarkable.

Thank you for your writing.

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Thanks so much for the kind words Paul. I means a great deal.

I love the mentality of acceptance when it comes to the weather and the game of golf. It really is just "part of the game that day"

Take care


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Good one, Paul.

On those mystic mornings following a long, lonely night of Night Watering, I always moved to my special place to watch the sun come up, feeling like I had the best job in existence.

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