Craig Clarke has been in the position of Golf Course Superintendent at McLeod Golf Club for 4 years. Read more about Craig below:
What do you love about your course?
Having played this course as a junior back in the early 90’s, I took a liking to the course layout. Over the last 4yrs I have had the ability to make some small changes to this with the addition of some new tee blocks and removal of some unnecessary bunkering which I believe has further added to the overall layout of the course.
What do you love about being a superintendent?
The ability to be in a position to make the necessary changes to the course that I saw when I first commenced here. I could see this course had enormous potential to improve and set about a five year plan to make these changes. Apart from a few minor hiccups along the way the course maintenance team has certainly been very supportive of my overall goal and been a major contributor to the implementation of the course master plan.
What challenges do you face being a super?
As a superintendent here at Mcleod I don’t face to many challenges at all. I am probably one of the lucky ones. I have a very supportive board of directors and membership that is more than happy to see the improvements to the course on a yearly basis even when play might be affected by major projects.
What was your first job?
I have been in this industry my whole life and actually started on the PGA side before seeing the light and switching to the turf side where I started off part time as a groundsmen under Dave Morrison at Hills Golf Club in Jimboomba.
What was your best job?
Definitely the one I am currently in. Very satisfying to walk out the door on a Friday afternoon knowing what you have achieved for the week and always looking forward to what is in front of you for the weeks and years to come.
What was your worst job?
I haven’t had to many bad jobs in this industry. I have worked at two previous jobs where the course has gone under in major floods and hosing mud and silt from greens in not one of my favourite jobs. Hasn’t happened to me here yet touch wood but this course also goes under with major flooding in the Brisbane river which I hope I never see in my time here.
In addition to being paid money, how else has your career created value in your life?
Probably through the many great people you get to meet and share your thoughts and opinions with. Nothing better than sitting around a table with a group of superintendents and reps talking shop over a few coldies.
Who was the biggest influence in your career?
Dave Morrison the current track manager at Clifford Park Racecourse in Toowoomba for sure. He gave me a start and have worked with him at two courses and gained most of my early knowledge about turf from him.
Is your job what you thought it would be when you started?
Definitely. I faced a big challenge when I first started here and probably put a lot of pressure on myself to make changes very quickly. I have since learnt to not take on too much at once and work to a plan which has certainly lead to better results over the past few years.
Are there any projects have you worked on that have been particularly interesting?
When I first commenced here and sat down and wrote a course master plan of where I wanted to the course to be in five years I identified that the fairways was where I wanted to start. Over the past 4 years I have been converting blue couch fairways over to green couch which has all been done in house. I had no previous experience with stolonising so this was all new to me. At present I have two left to go which will be completed this spring and summer so this project has made a massive change to the course to now be able to maintain weed free playing surfaces all year round with good colour and coverage.
Describe your team
My team of staff consists of one qualified greenkeeper and three groundsman. I am also fortunate enough to have a large group of volunteers on a weekly basis who assist the crew to complete all sorts of jobs from concrete pathways to all the gardens around the clubhouse and course. Without these I sometimes think of what the course would look like as it gives us an opportunity to focus on the fine cut areas year in year out. I probably have up to 25 men and women on a weekly basis in 3hr blocks.
Do you have any advice for someone interested in this field/job?
This industry can be very satisfying. Personally I like the hours that we work which still allows me to spend time with the family outside of work. It’s like anything the more you put into it the more chance you have on achieving success.
How do you prepare yourself for emerging trends and changes in the industry?
I try to keep up to date on trends and changes by attending as many field days and conferences as possible. This allows me to be able to network with others in the industry to seek information and gain ideas that I can bring back to my course to further improve my practices. You never stop learning in this industry as there is always new and exciting ways of doing things you think is right.
I always keep an open mind in this industry. I involve my team as much as possible to keep them enthusiastic which assists me to perform my role to the best of my ability on a daily basis. I would like to thank the superintendents in Queensland who have assisted me in any way to be where I am today. They are always just a phone call away to either lend equipment or give a second opinion or idea.