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John Reitman

By John Reitman

Golden Wrench winner goes above and beyond as Ozaukee CC's equipment manager

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Dan Dommer of Ozaukee Country Club in Mequon, Wisconsin is the recipient of the 2019 TurfNet Technician of the Year Award, presented by Toro.

The TurfNet Technician of the Year Award, presented by Toro is given annually to a golf course mechanic who excels at a variety of tasks associated with maintaining the golf course. The criteria on which the recipient is determined might need updating after Dan Dommer of Ozaukee Country Club in Mequon, Wisconsin, won this year's award.

Besides excelling as a mechanic in a 100-plus-year-old shop at this historic 1922 William Langford-Theodore Moreau design, Dommer, 41, mows and topdresses fairways and is in charge of maintenance at Ozaukee's clubhouse.

Since 2008, Dommer has been the equipment manager at Ozaukee, which was the home course to legendary superintendent Wayne Otto for more than 40 years. He was chosen from a field of three finalists that includes Jaime Bojorquez of Westbrook Village Golf Club in Peoria, Arizona, and Sean Brownson of Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, New York.

Criteria on which candidates are judged include: crisis management; effective budgeting; environmental awareness; helping to further and promote the careers of colleagues and employees; interpersonal communications; inventory management and cost control; overall condition and dependability of rolling stock; shop safety; and work ethic. 

He has a whatever-it-takes attitude. He mows fairways, is in charge of our fairway topdressing program and fixes what needs to be fixed. He also is in charge of daily operations at the clubhouse, including everything in the kitchen, all mechanical needs, HVAC, everything. ... Nominating him for this award was a no-brainer. He's one of the best in the business.

As the winner, Dommer receives the Golden Wrench Award and a spot in Toro Service Training University at the company's headquarters in Bloomington, Minnesota. Given all of Dommer's duties at Ozaukee, when he will find time to attend the Toro program is anyone's guess.

"He has a whatever-it-takes attitude. He mows fairways, is in charge of our fairway topdressing program and fixes what needs to be fixed," said Ozaukee superintendent Brett Hosler. "He also is in charge of daily operations at the clubhouse, including everything in the kitchen, all mechanical needs, HVAC, everything.

"Nominating him for this award was a no-brainer. He's one of the best in the business."

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The maintenance shop at Ozaukee CC is a 100-plus-year-old barn left over from when the site was a working dairy farm.

Between operating equipment and checking on playing conditions around the property, Dommer spends about four hours a day on the golf course. With a topdressing program that includes applications on greens every two weeks and fairways and tees every three, he spends a lot of time on the grinder. Throw in his duties in the clubhouse and it's a wonder Dommer doesn't just keep a cot in Ozaukee's shop

"I do spend a lot of time out there," he said. "I like to see how things are going out there."

The demands on his time mean he has to be fast and efficient when he is in the shop.

"I'm getting pretty good at grinding," he said. "I can do grinding for six greensmowers in about three hours."

Ozaukee was built on the site of an old dairy farm, and the barn from that farming operation serves as the club's shop.

It would be nice to have a lift here. But the ceiling heights make that impossible.

"When that became the maintenance facility, they retrofitted it to what they needed in 1922, and they have not changed it in almost 100 years," Dommer said. "We have been able to update it a little, but it is most definitely a barn."

Low ceiling heights prevented the installation of any kind of lift, so the only way to get underneath a piece of equipment is with a lot of jacks and a mechanic's creeper. Like a lot of people in this area, Dommer grew up on the family dairy farm, and if he absolutely needs a lift, he transports equipment to his father's shop.

"It would be nice to have a lift here," he said. "But the ceiling heights make that impossible."

Previous winners include (2018) Terry Libbert, Old Marsh Golf Club, Palm Beach Gardens, FL; (2017) Tony Nunes, Chicago Golf Club, Wheaton, IL; (2016) Kris Bryan, Pikewood National Golf Club, Morgantown, WV; (2015) Robert Smith, Merion Golf Club, Ardmore, PA; (2014) Lee Medeiros, Timber Creek and Sierra Pines Golf Courses, Roseville, CA; (2013) Brian Sjögren, Corral de Tierra Country Club, Corral de Tierra, CA; (2012) Kevin Bauer, Prairie Bluff Golf Club, Crest Hill, IL; (2011) Jim Kilgallon, The Connecticut Golf Club, Easton, CT; (2010) Herb Berg, Oakmont (PA) Country Club; (2009) Doug Johnson, TPC at Las Colinas, Irving, TX; (2007) Jim Stuart, Stone Mountain (GA) Golf Club; (2006) Fred Peck, Fox Hollow and The Homestead, Lakewood, CO; (2005) Jesus Olivas, Heritage Highlands at Dove Mountain, Marana, AZ; (2004) Henry Heinz, Kalamazoo (MI) Country Club; (2003) Eric Kulaas, Marriott Vinoy Renaissance Resort, Sarasota, FL.

As the winner, Dommer receives the Golden Wrench Award and a spot in Toro Service Training University at the company's headquarters in Bloomington, Minnesota.

Previous winners include (2018) Terry Libbert, Old Marsh Golf Club, Palm Beach Gardens, FL; (2017) Tony Nunes, Chicago Golf Club, Wheaton, IL; (2016) Kris Bryan, Pikewood National Golf Club, Morgantown, WV; (2015) Robert Smith, Merion Golf Club, Ardmore, PA; (2014) Lee Medeiros, Timber Creek and Sierra Pines Golf Courses, Roseville, CA; (2013) Brian Sjögren, Corral de Tierra Country Club, Corral de Tierra, CA; (2012) Kevin Bauer, Prairie Bluff Golf Club, Crest Hill, IL; (2011) Jim Kilgallon, The Connecticut Golf Club, Easton, CT; (2010) Herb Berg, Oakmont (PA) Country Club; (2009) Doug Johnson, TPC at Las Colinas, Irving, TX; (2007) Jim Stuart, Stone Mountain (GA) Golf Club; (2006) Fred Peck, Fox Hollow and The Homestead, Lakewood, CO; (2005) Jesus Olivas, Heritage Highlands at Dove Mountain, Marana, AZ; (2004) Henry Heinz, Kalamazoo (MI) Country Club; (2003) Eric Kulaas, Marriott Vinoy Renaissance Resort, Sarasota, FL.

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