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Parker Stancil

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About Parker Stancil

  • Birthday 05/05/1999

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    Portmarnock Golf Club
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    Golf, the outdoors, the beach, 60's & 70's rock n roll, surfing, Jeeps, teaching, and sharing my experiences with other turf lovers!

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  1. As some of you may know, in addition to blogging for TurfNet this summer at Portmarnock Golf Club, I did the same last year from Kerteminde, Denmark at a newly opened Nicklaus designed course called Great Northern. Check out that blog here. My summer at Great Northern last year was much more enjoyable than I had expected. The course provided housing for international greenkeepers who had come to work from several different countries including England, Scotland, Ireland, Lithuania, Latvia, Bulgaria, and more. With 15+ greenkeepers all in one house, I was able to make amazing new friends. Jack Sredojevic (left) and Jack Darling A bunch of my buds! After returning to South Carolina in 2018, I had figured the chances of seeing my friends again would be very slim. However, once I was presented this opportunity to work in Portmarnock for 2019, I immediately started planning out a visit to Kerteminde! My summer plans in Ireland made it slightly difficult to find a good weekend to fly over, because I was doing The Amateur Championship, The Irish Open, seeing The Open Championship, and more. The easiest weekend for me just happened to line up with Kerteminde’s “Harbor Festival”. The Harbor Festival gets pretty lively. I attended the Harbor Party last year with the other GN greenkeepers, and I remember having a great time, so you can bet I was excited to get back! Me, Jack Darling and Jack Smilie Saturday marked the first day of the festivities, and once I met up with my buddies, we ran down to the Harbor early. The whole town was raving with excitement. Kids were jumping off bridges, riding through the harbor on floats, playing games in the streets, and everyone was listening to live music. Cruising on along! Some crazy Dane jumping into pretty chilly water. Not quite sure what’s going on here, but if they’re having fun.. let ‘em live. Other than seeing my roomies from last year, I had the pleasure of seeing a few more familiar faces throughout my visit. Some encounters were completely by surprise, so I found it very pleasing to see the shock that came with. John Ungermand, the previous Director at Great Northern. An outstanding mentor, Aidan O’Hara, the superintendent of Great Northern. I have found that friendships and relationships you make during your travels are extremely important for broadening your cultural knowledge and all round life experiences. I hope I can see my friends again soon! Me and my Kerteminde Kin!
  2. This past week I’ve been assigned by Gary Johnstone, Portmarnock Links manager, to work in the greenkeeping shop in the afternoons with our course mechanic, Iacob Spermezan. Yep, that's an I, not a J, as he's from Romania. His name is pronounced like Yock'-obe, and is the Romanian form of Jacob or James. Iacob removing the bedknife from a cutting unit. Most of the mowers here are Jacobsen. Gary must’ve gotten tired of me bugging him about working in the shop, because I’ve been very eager to get to turning some wrenches. After 4 to 5 years of greenkeeping, I understand that maintaining a good quality of cut and equipment condition is critical to successful greenkeeping operations. Therefore, Gary gave me the opportunity to work my afternoons in the shop tearing apart cutting units and getting greasy! Starting to learn the basics, with a wrench. Iacob started here at Portmarnock as a greenkeeper, but his extensive knowledge in the mechanical aspects of the industry lead him to be an awesome equipment technician. Iacob takes great care of the machinery here at Portmarnock. He really stays on top of giving all the equipment the attention it needs. I had some previous experience with checking cut quality and setting the height of cut on Toro Greensmaster walk-behind mowers at Secession Golf Club, but that was a few years ago, so it was good to get a refresher. The AccuGauge that we use to measure the height of cut. This one has millimeters rather than the American style with inches. Iacob's preferred method of checking the reel-to-bedknife adjustment by inserting a folded slip of paper between the bedknife and reel. If you cut through both sides of the paper, the bedknife should be spaced farther from the reel to prevent contact. The most interesting part of the mower maintenance process was the grinding. We have an Express Dual 4000DX to grind the reels and an Anglemaster 4000DXi for the bed knives. For those of you who aren’t familiar with reel mowers, they’re used to cut shorter heights of grass, typically under an inch, and require more attention and precision than your normal household lawnmower. These grinding machines used to sharpen the reels and bedknives can put a big dent in a golf course budget. The Anglemaster control panel. Iacob setting it up to grind a bedknife. Setting up a reel on the Express Dual. Pretty neat little touch screen control for this one. The devices and equipment we use nowadays are extremely precise and have revolutionized the industry. The grinding machines can sharpen a mower within several minutes and other things come with great time savings for the work. A rechargeable electric lift we use to move the cutting units around. After becoming a pro with the grinding machines, I was blessed to have Iacob show me some other simple routinely procedures that go into equipment maintenance. We changed oil, filters, cleaned and checked fuses, so now I can properly care for my equipment in the future if needed. Checking out the guts of a fairway mower. Oil change. Replacing the oil filter. Checking the air filter. After being mentored for a couple days by Iacob, I was confident enough to grind and set up a mower on my own. After another couple days of shop work, I became confident enough to take apart any mower, do my thing, and send it out for a job shortly after.
  3. My mother and stepfather, Tracy and Ashley Wilkinson, paid me a visit in Ireland as part of celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary. Their original plans included playing golf in California and staying at Pebble Beach for a week, but the flight, hotel, and other travel costs were cheaper to come here! I guess you could say I’m a mama’s boy, and mama was having a hard time with not seeing me all summer, so with short notice, they were eastbound and down to Dublin. Cheese! After finishing two years at Horry Georgetown Technical College and being the stepson of a turf/horticulture geek, I’ve developed a passion for not only turfgrass, but I enjoy the beauty of landscape designs, floriculture, and the other aspects of horticulture. Many thanks to this knucklehead (Ashley) for introducing me to Turfgrass and Horticulture. We made a day trip over to Malahide Castle (Malahide, derived from the Gaelic terms for high ground and tide), 20 minutes north of Portmarnock, to tour the historical castle and famous beautiful gardens. Previously belonging to the Talbot family, the property holds 800+ years of history. The tour was full of interesting stories, antique pieces, and beautiful artwork. A large amount of the things found in the castle were obtained on trips to foreign countries, which adds even more character to the place. Malahide Castle (front above, rear below). The last Talbots to live in the castle were Milo and Rose Talbot. The brother and sister were financially forced out of the property in the 1970’s. They couldn’t persist through the Republic of Ireland’s property tax of around half of the property’s worth. The Battle of Boyne in 1690 brought a terrible fate to many members of the Talbot family. Within the great hall (pictured below), English forces stormed the castle and killed 14 of the 15 Talbots present in the castle while eating a family breakfast in the Great Hall. The Great Hall. Outside the castle, beautiful plants, wildlife, and other interesting landscapes surrounded the Talbot family. There are a couple gardens quite close to the castle, and inside you can find plants from all over the globe. I was surprised to find some plants that you would think to only see in warmer/tropic climates… in Ireland? How did this palm get here? A eucalyptus tree. Where are the Irish koalas? A cool turf design that replicates a design in the molding of an interior wall. My favorite plant I saw was a Hydrangea. These are quite common back home in the States, but I found this one with an interesting color change. (pictured below) A well known fun fact, Hydrangea flower color can be easily changed by adjusting the soil pH. White, yellow, pink, purple, and blue in one! A vast majority of the land the Talbots had owned is now used to hold community events, like 5 and 10 kilometer runs, concerts, and other family fun ideas. Local teams playing a Sunday game of cricket. I’m glad to be on the opposite side of the fence, because I have no clue how cricket works! If you’re an American and lazy like me, you and your family could cruise around on one of these bad boys (pictured below). I’d try it but I’ve had enough of pedaling this summer, considering I ride a bike around 3 miles each way to and from the greenkeeping facility at Portmarnock GC. To make my parents’ visit as fun as possible, I introduced them to my boss, Gary Johnstone, the Links Manager at Portmarnock GC. Gary took Ashley and me out for 18 at Portmarnock GC. Ashley is a huge golf fanatic, so hopefully his day was made. It wasn’t easy pulling this one off!
  4. You're not the only one going crazy! Great blog. I'm a strong believer in all things covered in your article. When all else fails, live like Bruce! The past is the past, and life is too short to be angry and complain. Thanks for sharing Dave 😁
  5. While attending The Amateur Championship at Portmarnock Golf Club back in June, Jon Kiger of TurfNet informed me that he would be returning to Ireland in a few weeks for The Open at Portrush. It was a sweet surprise when he said he had an extra ticket for the Tuesday practice round and offered it to me. Offer accepted! The boss (Gary Johnstone, Links Manager at Portmarnock Golf Club) gave me the day off of work to ride up to Northern Ireland to fulfill an item on my bucket list. (Yes, I have a bucket list at 20 years old). This tournament completes the Parker Grand Slam! I have finally spectated at all 4 major golf tournaments, including the 2012 PGA Championship at Kiawah, 2014 US Open at Pinehurst, a couple times at The Masters, and finally the 2019 Open Championship here at Royal Portrush. Attending the 2019 Masters with Papa Ash (Ashley Wilkinson, department chairman of the turf program at Horry-Georgetown, and my stepfather). Thanks to Mr. Kiger, I was able to make a new friend, Mike O’Keeffe. Many of you may have heard of Mr. O’Keeffe, because he’s built quite the name for himself by directing the Ohio State programs. He travels to Ireland, Scotland, and other places to recruit new talent in the greenkeeping industry. First off, we played a quick round of golf at The Island Golf Club, 30 minutes up the road from me, the day before leaving. I guess my golf game was good enough approval, because I hitched a ride to Portrush with him and his brother John. Mike O'Keeffe and I playing The Island. I had the pleasure of meeting Trent Virden, technical specialist of Bluewater, a company that is trying to curb pollution by providing easily accessible sources of purified water to reduce the need for single-use water bottles. Their portable water purification system hooks up to municipal water lines and filters the water with Bluewater SuperiorOsmosis, which is more effective than traditional water purification processes. Bluewater was contracted to set up water bottle filling machines throughout the grounds used for the Open Championship. One of the 20 Bluewater stations placed around the Portrush property. While wandering around, I ran across James Sugrue, winner of this year’s Amateur Championship at Portmarnock Golf Club where I'm interning this summer! It was exciting to see Sugrue competing with the professionals for a major title, after winning The Amateur. Me with James Sugrue, Amateur Champion. Below, his autograph on my ticket. Despite Sugrue missing the cut by a single stroke, I was still happy to see Shane Lowry, an Irishman, take home the win with the support of the Irish locals. I had a short tour of the new maintenance facility at Portrush. Stephen Walker, Royal Portrush mechanic, was at the shop checking equipment while most everyone else was taking their mid-day naps. Mechanics are worked extremely hard during big tournaments, and they are often the first in and last ones out the door. Walker informed me that despite having a massive fleet of Toro mowers, 10 extra triplexes and 12 extra walk mowers were brought in for the tournament. That’s a bunch of mowers! Stephen Walker making sure his equipment is in mint condition. Below, a lot of red! The day off of work was great, because I got to see a major and meet new people from the greenkeeping industry, including Graeme Beatt, course manager at Royal Portrush. Mike O'Keeffe and I stopped by the BIGGA tent, where I had the pleasure of meeting Jim Croxton, CEO of BIGGA, below. I’m thrilled that I had the opportunity to see The Open in person for the first time, and hopefully it isn’t the last!
  6. During my week of volunteering at the 2019 Irish Open at Lahinch, I had the pleasure of experiencing the beautiful scenery, fun social environment, and everything else you’d want in a little getaway vacation in the town of Lahinch, Co.Clare. A view of the town of Lahinch from the top of the viewing stands at 18 green. The town of Lahinch is widely known across Ireland for its attraction of professional and recreational surfers. The word “surf” covers the town from top to bottom. Gift shops, restaurants, sports and recreational facilities across the whole town have some relation to surfing. A popular shop that provides rentals and lessons to tourists. Many of the businesses in town are surf or beach-flavored, even my housing for the week (below). With the Irish Open coming to Lahinch Golf Club, the town wasn’t fully prepared for the crowd it attracted. In the most popular area of town, the main street was closed for a lengthy period towards the end of the week. The streets were cluttered with thousands of people, locals and visitors, who brought in tons of cash to the local shops and pubs. There were points throughout the week where everyone was standing just about shoulder to shoulder in the road, with the pub crawlers packed inside like sardines. The streets were packed with shoppers and drinkers in the evenings. Magicians, puppeteers and musicians entertained in the streets. Not to be left out of the social reverie, Lahinch Golf Club provided an area on the Castle Course grounds for the Championship Pavilion, where golf fans could have a bite to eat, some drinks and listen to live music after the golfers wrapped up their rounds for the day. The pavilion drew a decent crowd with the various food trucks, beer tents, and games/activities surrounding a pretty sizeable stage. Another reason for why I loved the west coast of Ireland is the beautiful scenery, plant life, and animals I came across, such as the wildflowers growing along the road (below). The infamous and beloved goats are unofficial weather forecasters of Lahinch Golf Club, I tried not to bother the cows too much; they seemed like they had seen enough tourists like me today. I made a quick trip over to the Cliffs of Moher, which are located on the coastline and stand over 500 feet tall. There is a walking trail that you can pay to use that runs down the entire 11 mile stretch of cliffs, so strap your good tennis shoes on! The cliffs are easily one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. I was looking forward to surfing but the waves were flat for the entire week. High tide (above) and low tide (below). After spending a whole week in Lahinch, I could easily see a fun trip back in the future. I guess I have a few reasons to return!
  7. Organized by the European Tour, the 2019 Irish Open is being hosted by Lahinch Golf Club in County Clare. The breathtaking links club provides unbelievable views along the west coast of Ireland. Extremely steep cliffs and beautiful long beaches border the town of Lahinch, which is quite easy to see from the peaks of the enormous dunes clustered throughout the golf course. Me standing on the highest point of the Lahinch GC property. The view down #1 and #18. Lahinch GC clubhouse, which was a great spot for a sandwich and a pint. Back in 1892, Alexander Shaw and Richard Plummer laid out the original plan for Lahinch. However, it was in 1894 that the infamous Old Tom Morris, designer of the Old Course at St. Andrews, envisioned the layout for Lahinch GC that brought in all the fame. With the help of Alister MacKenzie, codesigner of Augusta National, Lahinch GC was redesigned in 1927 and now challenges the best of the best to compete through the wild dunes, intense winds, and championship level playing surfaces. Blind fairway shot off #3 tee. View from behind #5 green, which is only half visible from the tee. Good luck pinseeking! View from the tee of the gorgeous par 3, #8. Beware of “The Mine”... a mean little bunker in the middle of #6 fairway. Lahinch GC has two sets of 18 holes, the Old Course (along the coast), and the Castle Course (more inland). The Castle Course doesn’t have the same elevation changes and wispy dunes like the Old Course, but it still provides an outstanding round of 18 holes. It was named the Castle Course because of the ruins of an old castle tower that still stands today, which is located on property. It’s a par 69 links style course that was designed by John Harris in 1961. The old castle ruins. Being so old, you can bet that Lahinch GC holds a bunch of history. One of my favorite fun facts involves the club logo. The goat is incorporated in the logo because back in the old days, the club’s goats were your local meteorologists! If the goats gathered around the clubhouse, the weather was typically unfavorable for playability, however, if you could see that the goats were out roaming around the far side of the course, then chances were that it was a good day for 18 holes. Made a few new pals this week. I joined in on the fun the Sunday before tournament week, and I had the pleasure of touring the course with the other lads volunteering for the week. The tournament greenkeeping team was well-prepared and had a high head count. With well over 50 guys working the grounds, Lahinch GC was kept in perfect condition. Starting to round up all the guys. Meeting the other volunteers for the first time. L to R: Ashley Marshall, Cian Murray, Colm Lawlor, Giles McDonagh, me, and Daniel Fisher. After meeting Giles at the Amateur Championship, I was happy to see him using his paint applicator and hole cutter again. L to R: Giles, Aidan Hiney, and Paul Coleman. I was lucky enough to be on greens rolling duty for the week along with Dan Garrihy. He’s taken a different career path, but after a solid 5-6 years of greenkeeping at Lahinch, he’s a veteran roller. Also, shoutout to Tru-Turf for sponsoring the blogs! Their rollers provide outstanding results. Stay out of Dan’s way, he’s a speed demon! Working hard or hardly working? The greenkeeping staff was blessed to be sponsored by John Deere this week. Extra equipment and tournament shirts were provided through the local JD distributor. “Nothing runs like a Deere!” We had an army of greenkeepers… and I will emphasize it was an army. Here comes the cavalry! Despite the enormous staff, Brian McDonagh, Head Links Manager, deserves all the credit. Countless hours and managing championship playing surfaces posed no threat to Mr. McDonagh. I was happy to see that the crew held good relationships with Brian, which is very important to make miracles like this week happen! Me and Brian. Below, celebrating Brian’s birthday with a cake from the staff. After working several tournaments, I believe the Irish Open may have been my favorite professional tournament so far. I enjoyed a week of meeting great people, seeing beautiful views, and watching some awesome golf! See you next year?
  8. Too funny! This is definitely up there on the list of funniest golf course/turf stories I’ve heard of
  9. I have previously volunteered at TPC Sawgrass, Sea Island, East Lake GC, Gullane GC, and more, but this was my first time being a member of the greenkeeping team to actually be the host of a big tournament. I’ve had great fun with all the high-energy events, but by contrast the Amateur Championship here at Portmarnock Golf Club was a very nice and relaxed week. Horseplaying around last year with Ralph Kepple, East Lake GC Director of Agronomy. He was helping me with the Tour Championship #StayHydrated photo competition… water stimp luge! Getting dirty at the Scottish Open last year. This was the second time for Portmarnock to host the Amateur Championship, and half of the stroke-play (the first 2 days) was also hosted at The Island Golf Club, which is about 20 minutes north of Portmarnock GC. The first time was back in 1949, which also marked the first year it was held in Ireland. The invitation for the 1949 Amateur Championship from the R&A. Out of the 288 players from 37 different countries, the 2019 Amateur Champion was James Sugrue. Being that Sugrue is native to Ireland, the crowd was very excited to watch him bring home the win. Despite all the highly ranked American Amateur players, the Irish native was more accustomed to the style of links golf. Fans crowding around as Sugrue tees off for the second set of 18 holes for the final playoff. 8 out of the top 15 ranked players are from the US. Time to sketch in Sugrue's name. The course conditions don’t make it a cake walk. High wind speeds, firm playing surfaces, and deep revetted bunkers can really take a toll on your game. Beautiful… but mean! The event wasn’t as highly commercialized and setup like the usual PGA/USGA tournaments I volunteer for, but I will say that I enjoyed the calm atmosphere. The Amateur Championship seemed to be a more traditional and old-school style venue that welcomed all golf lovers to attend. There weren’t ropes and stakes lining every fairway to prevent the fans from accessing parts of the course. You could walk just about wherever your heart desired. I was lucky enough to be a part of the greens mowing team for the week, so you can bet I put on a laser show! Greens team heading out at 5:00am. Everything had to be perfect for the tournament. That’s why we brought in Giles McDonagh from Tacit Golf to use his very own cup cutter and paint applicator, which is made by Tacit Golf. You will be seeing more of Giles when I volunteer at the Irish Open. The volunteers were an enormous help each morning. Some stuck around all week, and some swapped shifts with coworkers from nearby courses. Deputy Greenkeeper at Royal Dublin GC, Mark Burke stuck around with us all week, and he welcomed a different staff member from his course to assist us each day. That was a great idea! Thanks a million to all the volunteers. The most credit for the week belongs to our Links Manager, Gary Johnstone (below left). He has put in countless hours with very early morning shifts and late-night meetings. I’m glad to be under Gary’s supervision this summer, because he sure knows what it takes to be the best! After a good week of hard work, I decided to treat myself to the “Dublin Mountain Burger” at a pub in Dublin City called Darkey Kellys. What a beast of a burger! The American won.. and thankfully I arose from the burger coma to continue my summer of work. I love links golf and tournament work, so I hope I’ll have the chance to do it all over again someday.
  10. Preparation for the Amateur Championship began many weeks in advance of tournament week for Portmarnock Golf Club’s greenkeepers. I was fortunate enough to join the team a little over two weeks before the first practice rounds were starting, and we’ve been putting in some hard work. One day’s worth of walkmowing… I’m whooped. Make sure to wear some sunglasses if you check out the gorgeous par 3, hole 12… you might go blind with all those lasers I laid down! Gary Johnstone, Portmarnock GC’s Links Manager, has been putting in countless hours for months to get the course to peak condition. Gary is one of the hardest working managers I’ve met. There are not many golf course superintendents with the work ethic to spray greens and rake bunkers simultaneously like Gary does. Bravo Mr. Johnstone! I thought this was a neat idea. Weeks before the tournament, we had these little plastic hitting mats scattered around landing areas of fairways to prevent divots. Our team of greenkeepers have been very focused on all the small detail work to look as best as possible for TV. Pulling weeds, edging, and more attention to detail jobs conceive the work superintendents have a hard time finding the desire to do, but these things create the difference between good... and great! I joined a few of the guys in cutting and laying some sod around our new driving range facility, so that it would look spiffy before the amateur players arrived. “Oh shoot! He’s got a camera, act like you’re doing something!” The driving range facility, located right beside our maintenance shop, will be used for practicing in safety of Ireland’s rainy and windy conditions. For most of the tournaments I’ve volunteered for in the states, superintendents prepare by applying growth regulators and fertilizers, dropping height of cuts, and whatnot. However, here at Portmarnock GC, we can’t really increase our green speeds too much. This is due to the course design, location, and weather. With Ireland’s intense wind, we must be careful with our green speeds, because sometimes a putt into the wind can drop a whole 3 feet in speed! The same goes for putting with the wind at your back, an increase of around 3 feet. The Royal and Ancient Golf Club, based in St. Andrews, Scotland, is the ruling authority for The Amateur Championship (like our PGA and USGA). Members of their ruling, championship, and other committees have been monitoring the conditions of Portmarnock GC for months prior to the tournament to ensure perfect conditions. I had the pleasure of speaking with Allister Beggs and Richard Windows from the R&A. These two gentlemen were on the course taking greens data with a stimpmeter, POGO tool, and a klegg hammer. In the photo below, Beggs (left), and Windows (right), had to use those plastic coverings as an anti-wind tunnel when taking stimp measurements so that our crazy wind speeds wouldn’t taint the results. Despite the 4:30-5:00 AM start times, I’m looking forward to this upcoming week of great golf and networking. Even though we’re up before the rooster’s crow, we’re alright. We’ve got enough coffee on standby to give the whole crew a heart attack. Stay tuned to read more about the tournament next week!
  11. I recently graduated from Horry Georgetown Technical College in Myrtle Beach with an Associates Degree in Golf and Sports Turf Management. I decided I wanted to keep grinding for more credibility, therefore, I will be attending Clemson University to advance my education by majoring in AgMechanization and AgriBusiness. Me and two of the greatest mentors I could ask for: Charles Granger (left) & Ashley Wilkinson (right) My original plans for this summer included knocking out a couple tough classes before attending Clemson in the fall of 2019. However, once I was presented with the opportunity to work in Ireland over the summer, I couldn’t turn it down. After my summer of 2018 at Great Northern Golf Club in Keterminde, Denmark, it is safe to say I can handle the international travel well. Therefore, I have no doubts that this summer will be smooth and enjoyable. Mama was glad to have me back after my last trip to Denmark! I flew out of Charleston International Airport (CHS), connected in Boston, then touched down at the Dublin International Airport (DUB). Me showing off my 2 phones… 1 Irish and 1 American. That makes me seem important, right? I have accepted the offer for seasonal employment at Portmarnock Golf Club in County Dublin. While working at Portmarnock, I’ll be staying in a bed and breakfast with the Harris family. My home-away-from-home for this summer. Hopefully I don’t experience the normal Irish weather this summer… give me sun! I’m excited to start work at Portmarnock GC, because I’m in love with the place already. Links Manager Gary Johnstone invited me to play 9 holes with him on one of my free days before starting work, and the true Irish links-style golf was incredibly fun. Gary getting ready to bomb one down the fairway. I love the beautiful classic look of the Portmarnock clubhouse. The wind was gushing between 20-30 mph when we played, so it really took a toll on my game! That didn’t matter to me though, because the views, wildlife, plant life, and everything else on and around the golf course are something special.
  12. In May of 2018, I promised myself that once I started my new, but temporary, life in Denmark, I’d be as good of a friend as I could be to anyone I would meet. I had no enemies when I started, and I saw no reason to have any by the end of my summer. I lived in the Great Northern greenkeeper employee housing with 14 other greenkeepers. The crew was diverse, from all over: Ireland, England, Scotland, Lithuania, Australia, Denmark, Poland, Latvia, Jamaica, and Bulgaria. I’m proud to say I have friends from all over the world now. In the turf business, connections are a big key to success, so it’s important to get your name out there and keep in touch with everyone you meet. I did my best to make friends when I was in Scotland, too, working the Scottish Open. I really enjoyed getting to know the crew and the volunteers there, and I’m happy to still be in touch with those I met. I’m happy to be back in the States to see my family and friends, but I’m always going to have my other family on the other side of the world. I’d like to give a big thanks to Great Northern for having me for the summer, Gullane Golf Club for letting me volunteer for the Scottish Open, and everyone else who made my summer so enjoyable. Below are pictures of friends I made during my travels and a list of my new friends I worked with at Great Northern. John Conway, Hicks Layton, and Billy Teichman L->R Dave Dusch Soren Hansen Blair Shearer and Dave Thomson Me with Jack Darling, riding a roller coaster. Tom Larsen Gordon Moir Line Trier Scott Dunsmuir, Grant Dilasser, John Cunningham, and Jack Smillie John Ungermand Michail Trivonow Liam Nicholson and Kevin West David Angus, Baptiste Traineau, Gary Innes, me, and Ashley Wilkinson Stewart Duff Aidan O’Hara Jack Sredojevic John Cunningham- Ireland Jack Smillie- England Jack Darling- Scotland Deivydas Gulbinas- Lithuania Justas Poskevicius- Lithuania Dave Dusch- Australia Tom Larsen- Denmark Jack Sredojevic- Ireland Grant Dilasser- Scotland Peter Sredojevic- Scotland Robert Barnat- Poland Sarunas Gr- Lithuania Scott Dunsmuir- Scotland Benny Christoffersen- Denmark Chrisitan Hainer- Denmark Edijs Ukstins- Latvia Michael Gordon- Jamaica Michail Trivonow- Bulgaria Anette Bolander- Denmark Christian Bensen- Denmark Dainius Rudys- Lithuania Evaldas Aleksandravicius- Lithuania Danielius Monkevičius- Lithuania Rune Carlsund- Denmark Vadims Arakčejevs- Latvia Line Trier- Denmark Jakob Nielsen- Denmark Kristian Jensen- Denmark Aidan O’Hara- Ireland
  13. Before my time at Great Northern ran too short, I decided to take a little day trip to Copenhagen City, the capital of Denmark. I dragged my buddy, Jack Darling, to Copenhagen so he could see the city as well… and he had a car, so I saved money by not buying a train ticket! To get to Copenhagen, we had to cross the Storebælt Bridge, also known as the Great Belt Fixed Link Bridge. This 6,790-meter-long bridge connects the two islands Zealand and Funen (the island Great Northern is on). It opened in 1998 after a costly price of 21 billion Krone (~3.5 billion USD), and you’re charged 240 Krone (~38 USD) to cross the bridge each way! Headed toward Copenhagen. Don’t be nervous to visit Copenhagen, because no matter where you’re from, chances are you’ll have an embassy to visit if needed! Copenhagen holds embassies for 74 different foreign countries. The Swedish Embassy, one of many within the city. Photo taken out the car window. We drove into the north side of Copenhagen to see the Little Mermaid Statue, based on the story written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. It was built in 1913. Sitting at the water’s edge, the Little Mermaid attracts thousands of tourists each day. On the way to the most famous palace, we walked past the Christiansborg Palace. This is home to the offices of Danish Parliament, Supreme Court, and the Prime Minister. Construction began in 1733. A view from the front courtyard. Then we made it to the big Amalienborg Palace, which is a home for the Danish Royal family. Its split into 4 different classic-style palaces around a courtyard. Each of the 4 palaces is named after a previous King. This was built in 1760. In the courtyard, you can find the Royal Life Guards. They patrol the palace grounds day and night. Super serious. Copenhagen has tons of statues to pay tribute to deceased historical/political figures. This is King Christian the 10th. He was King from 1912 to 1947. Many statues of different previous Kings stand on blocks all around the city. Close to the Christian X statue, you can find “Nyhavn” (pronounced New-Hown), which means New Harbor. This waterfront district of Copenhagen was established in the 17th-century. The oldest house in Nyhavn was built in 1681. Looking good in my TurfNet hat, probably the first one ever in Copenhagen! Make sure to plan your trips with lots of detail and preparation… you may end up lost like old Spidey here! Our final destination was Tivoli Gardens, the 2nd oldest functional amusement park in the world and gardens that opened in 1843. On average, Tivoli Gardens receives over 4 million visitors per year. There’s several different roller coasters and tons of booths with carnival-style games and cuisines from many foreign countries. The “Daemon” towered over us as we first walked in. There are a few different dropping towers, swinging rides, and more all over the park. I managed to convince Jack to try the Demon coaster with me, and it was great! Going up the Demon! Although it may be scary to some, the views from the top of the Demon are great. Jack and I enjoying a simple cheeseburger in Tivoli Gardens. Thank goodness we ate after the Demon! Copenhagen was a blast, however, Jack and I could only visit for a few hours on a Sunday. Personally, I’d suggest visiting Copenhagen over an entire weekend, so you can really experience the city and appreciate the crazy new and old architecture up and down every block… and also spend a full day at Tivoli Gardens of course! I want to visit Copenhagen again, and I’m sure Jack would agree with me on that!
  14. It’s safe to say that majority of golf courses around the world have a driving range on property, and this is responsibility for the greenkeeping staff and proshop staff to maintain. It’s very common for the clubhouse/proshop workers to collect the range balls to be reused and allow the greenkeepers to maintain the turf on the range. Here at Great Northern Golf Club, we have a high-tech GPS-based robotic system that can do both! I met up with our club Head Pro, Søren Hansen, to take a look at the part of the system that sits inside our driving-range/proshop facility. Søren checking out a few range balls. Søren joined the European tour in 1997 and proceeded to win 3 events. He was included in the top 50 professional golfers in the Official World Golf Rankings and was labeled as the best Danish Golfer in 2007… and he’s our Head Pro! I’m very glad to have met Søren, he’s an awesome guy. Thanks for showing me the system! Søren has lots of work to do including giving lessons, proshop business, and more, so he and the other workers don’t have too much time to spare to pick range balls. Therefore, the ball collection system is a perfect fit for Great Northern. Several companies were contracted to put together the mowing and range ball collection system using robots, underground piping, and vacuum systems to handle the aggravating job of driving a cart up and down the range and getting smacked with range balls hit by golfers! The interior portion of the system includes the vacuum, a pump for the vacuum, a collection tray for hand-picked balls, the computer system, and the big steel container that feeds the balls to pipes to be dispersed to the outside ball machines. The inside portion of the system. The tray for loading hand-picked balls. Here is where the balls can be split between the two separate dispensers for the customers. Inside one of the dispensers. The balls are brought up by the flaps of the conveyor system. BelRobotics makes the Bigmow and Ballpicker electric-powered robots that are programmed to mow the rough of the range and collect the balls to be dumped into the designated collection pits. These robots have a width of a meter and can really get the job done! A Bigmow putting in some work. The Ballpicker and Bigmow from Belrobotics. At these pits, the collection robots can empty their loads of around 250 balls and grab a quick charge to keep moving throughout the day. The mowing robots aren't programmed to go to a collection pit, therefore they have their own charging stations off to the side of the pit. Buried around the perimeter of our 5-acre driving range, lies a cable 30cm under the surface so the robots can sense where they are needed to mow or collect. Our driving range. Even though the robots aren’t too big, with a couple working at a time, they can cover the 5 acres in a little over 24 hours. 5 acres is a lot of ground to cover for a tiny robot, however, the robot can cover the whole area on one full charge. If your driving range aggravates you with the ball picking and extra mowing, take a look at going high-tech! Another big thanks to my co-worker, Jack Darling, for helping explain the system to me.
  15. First things first. I am an awful cook. I belong on the opposite side of Gordon Ramsey and Paula Deen on the spectrum of the culinary arts. Upon leaving the U.S.A., I realized that my easy days of running to a McDonalds or Chick Fil A for a meal were coming to an end. Within the first couple of weeks, I struggled to feed myself, because I never learned how to cook. I had gotten so spoiled with fast-food and my parents feeding me. I’m embarrassed to say, I may have only used a stove top a couple dozen times before coming to Denmark. But I had to start to feed my raging American appetite. Over the past 3 months of traveling around, I’ve run across many different cultures. A very important component to cultures are the different foods within. I live in a house with greenkeepers that come from many different countries. Scotland, Ireland, England, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Latvia, and Poland are all homes to the dozen or more greenkeepers living in the housing complex. Therefore, I get a little experience from several different countries every single day. Lithuanian, Scottish, Irish, English, and American all in one picture! During my trip to Scotland, my friends, Grant, Jack and Scott, who grew up there insisted I try a few of their favorite foods and drinks. Of course I had to try the hot tea with milk. The most requested items from the guys were Haggis and Black Pudding. When I say Black Pudding, many people may think of a gooey delicious snack, however, it’s actually a “blood sausage” made from pork blood, pork fat, oatmeal, and a few more small ingredients. I will say that I am not a fan of either of the two. Black pudding is usually paired with this sweet “brown sauce” Haggis is another style of “pudding”, but doesn’t come in a sausage form. It’s made from Sheep’s Pluck, which can contain the heart, lungs, liver, and other organs that are normally disposed of. The Scottish people enjoy these traditional foods, because a long time ago before meats were easily available, the Scots would try to use as much of an animal for food as possible to avoid wasting meat. Along with Scotland, majority of the United Kingdom is pretty crazy over fish and chips. This usually consists of fried cod and French fries. Yum! My Bulgarian house-mate Michail introduced me to Bulgarian cuisine. He made “Musaka”, which consists of mince meat, tomatoes, onions, Bulgarian spices, eggs, yogurt and potatoes. In the process of cooking. Ready to eat! Thanks Michail! I thought to myself that since I’m trying foods from different cultures, I should introduce my friends to a typical American meal. A cheeseburger and French fries would’ve been too stereotypical. After the Europeans joked around with me about drinking Coca Cola (typical American), I decided to make my family’s staple Coca Cola Chicken. The simple recipe of Coca Cola, ketchup, honey, and chicken had a few of the guys foaming at the mouth! English Jack, Irish Jack, and Irish John chowing down on a taste of America. I’m a pretty picky eater, but I enjoyed broadening my horizons in the culinary world. Not everything you try will satisfy your taste, but you’ll never know if you like it without giving it a go.
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