Kirk Heald has been the Golf Course Superintendent at Victoria Park Golf Course for the past eleven years.
What do you love about your course?
Victoria Park provides a vast variety of elevations. It takes only three hours to play eighteen holes.
What do you love about being a superintendent?
Being involved in all decision-making, overcoming challenges we face daily and working in a team environment.
What challenges do you face being a super?
Water management is a challenge—it’s a high priority as we have a minimal supply of dam water. On many occasions Victoria Park Golf Course has been restricted to only watering greens and tees.
What was your first job?
Gardener and greenkeeper hand at Mt Osmond Golf Club (South Australia).
What was your best job?
I would have to say this one. There have been constant course layout changes and construction projects which have always presented challenges and reward at the same time.
What was your worst job?
Dish pig for my local butcher. This job taught me how hard it is to show up when you have absolutely no interest or satisfaction in what you are doing.
In addition to being paid money, how else has your career created value in your life?
I have always been proud of all my apprentices that have grown as greenkeepers and developed their passion for golf course turf management. Many have completed the Ohio Intern Program and many others are still within our industry working on golf courses all around Australia and the world.
Who was the biggest influence in your career?
Les Burdett. In 1989 I completed two weeks work experience at Adelaide Oval which I really enjoyed due to the variety of tasks required to maintain and present the complex. I was impressed how Les was so highly respected worldwide for preparing and maintaining cricket wickets and fields to the highest standards.
Is your job what you thought it would be when you started?
I had been working on golf courses for twelve years prior to becoming Superintendent so I had a pretty good idea what I was in for. Working within Brisbane City Council Community Facilities and Venues means I allocate time to non-golf related activities such as meetings, forums and leadership development.
Are there any projects you have worked on that have been particularly interesting?
Recently we redeveloped and constructed the 9th hole par five fairway. Victoria Park was one of Brisbane’s first dump sites and it was very interesting to see the various bottles and other pottery excavated during the construction process. Not so interesting, but heart breaking, was when we received three hundred millimetres of rain just after turf laying was completed. The result was something that resembled an earthquake down the middle of the fairway.
Describe your team.
Our team ranges in age from 18 to 45 years old. They are prepared to work any hours when required and I can depend on them for afterhours work when preparing for tournaments, events and emergency call outs after extreme weather events have occurred. We’re average golfers but all love having a hit and a few beers.
Do you have any advice for someone interested in this field/job?
Golf course turf management is never boring and very rewarding due to all the tasks and procedures involved with preparing playing surfaces to a high standard. There are 34,000 golf courses worldwide that provide many opportunities to gain turf management and maintenance skills, while travelling and experiencing other cultures. Work hard, listen and learn from all your peers. Always be keen and available outside of work hours, and you never know what career doors may open for you.
How do you prepare yourself for emerging trends and changes in the industry?
I keep an open mind and look for new tools and practices to improve how we do things. When looking to upgrade or replace something I do research and investigate options available.