When topics such as playability and customer service come up at Timber Creek and Sierra Pines golf courses, there is plenty of credit to go around. Golf course superintendent, Jim Ferrin says he couldn't do what he does with equipment manager Lee Medeiros. And when he's pressed about his skill as a mechanic, Medeiros says he owes it all to his assistant and the rest of Ferrin's crew.
This mutual admiration society is what makes things run so smoothly at these two courses at Sun City Roseville, a Del Webb active adult retirement community near Sacramento, California.
"Lee embraces technology. . . . He can handle almost any repair we need," Ferrin said. "But the essential thing is the team player concept he brings to the operation. If there are other projects that need to be done, he jumps in and does it. He helps us do other things so we can do the things we are responsible for. He goes above and beyond, and he encourages others to get involved in other things around the club."
Because of his expertise as a mechanic, skills at fabricating parts, managing an ever-shrinking budget and still find time to do all the little extra things that make work pleasant for his colleagues, Medeiros was named the 2014 TurfNet Technician of the Year.
Medeiros was chosen by a panel of judges from a list of three finalists that included Chris Adler of Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, and Brian Aiken of Kings Point Golf Course in Delray Beach, Florida. Presented by Toro, the award is given annually to a golf course equipment manager who excels at a combination of the following criteria: crisis management, effective budgeting, environmental awareness, helping to further 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.
Previous winners include Brian Sjögren, Corral de Tierra (California) Country Club (2013); Kevin Bauer, Prairie Bluff (Illinois) Public Golf Club (2012); Jim Kilgallon, Connecticut Golf Club (2011); Herb Berg, Oakmont (Pennsylvania) Country Club (2010); Doug Johnson, TPC at Las Colinas, Irving, Texas (2009); Jim Stuart, Stone Mountain (Georgia) Golf Club (2007); Fred Peck, Fox Hollow and The Homestead, Lakewood, Colorado. (2006); Jesus Olivas, Heritage Highlands at Dove Mountain, Marana, Arizona (2005); Henry Heinz, Kalamazoo (Michigan) Country Club (2004); Eric Kulaas, Marriott Vinoy Renaissance Resort, St. Petersburg, Florida (2003). No award was given in 2008.
As the winner, Medeiros, 59, receives the Golden Wrench Award and a trip to the Toro Service Training Academy at the company's Bloomington, Minnesota headquarters.
"I've been around some damn good mechanics in my day, but Lee does more things for you golf course-wise beyond what is job is than any mechanic I've seen," Ferrin said.
"If we topdress and mow right behind it, then there goes the edge on your reels. He knows this is not about what he does. It's about the golf course."
Medeiros doesn't see what he does as being anything special or extra.
"We're all part of a team here striving for the same goal, and that is to make the golf course successful and provide the best conditions we can for the people who play here - our customers," Medeiros said.
"I couldn't do this without my assistant Mohammed (Nawaz). He is a big part of our operation, my success and the success of the golf course. We couldn't do this without him and without the rest of the crew."
Medeiros has a long career in the golf business. He was an equipment technician at several courses in Southern California, including Pelican Hill Golf Club in Newport Beach as well as a regional position with ValleyCrest Golf, overseeing operations at 15 courses in Arizona, California and Texas.
During that time, he developed a great deal of expertise and plenty of opportunities to teach others the trade, something he still takes seriously today.
"I enjoy mentoring people. I've never been worried that someone is going to be smarter than me," he said. "I enjoy sharing knowledge and helping other mechanics.
"I've been around a while, and that has helped me develop some expertise with a company that insists on quality."
Aside from his ability to mentor and lead others and promoting the benefits of teamwork, Medeiros also is a skilled mechanic and manager. Conditions on both courses have never been better, and Medeiros maintains the equipment used to produce those conditions on a budget that is nearly half of what it was when he was hired eight years ago.
"I don't have to tell him what to do. When he knows what we've got coming up on the golf course, he knows what he has to do, what parts he needs and that he has to have everything ready for us," Ferrin said.
"If I had to tell the mechanic what to do all the time, I'd be crazy. I can't do it. He runs his department like it's his own little business, and he does it for me, the customer."