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  • Correspondent photo by WAYNE MILLS

    Greg Hollick is the new superintendent at Nashua Country Club.
  • Staff photo by Don Himsel

    Facebook- Don Himsel at The Telegraph

    The tee shot at the ninth hole at the Nashua Country Club has players hitting over a pond. StateAm Play begins next week.
Sunday, April 22, 2012

Golf’s toughest job perfect match for NCC’s Hollick


Putting Around

Golf’s toughest job is also its most thankless.

Wanting to be a golf course superintendent, considering all that is involved, is almost unfathomable. Still, many people are drawn to it, much like farming, it’s for the love of the job.

Although the pay can be decent and even good in the right circumstances, the educational requirements, the hours and the stress make it a job not for the meek of heart.

The first thing you’ll need to do is go to school, meaning a four-year degree from a good school or at least an associate’s degree from a turf school. From there, you’ll be lucky to get a job on the maintenance crew at a golf course. To advance your career will require moving to different jobs all over the country. Eventually you might get promoted to assistant superintendent.

The ambitious ones then will apply for a head superintendent job. That would be one of those deals where you should be careful what you ask for.

Should you be so fortunate, you will inherit a 150 acre garden that will include several micro-climates – including direct sun, shade, wet low lying areas, shallow soils, poor drainage, weak irrigation reach, tree issues and troublesome traffic patterns – that cause excessive turf wear.

In New England you can manage the grounds in a delicate balancing act through extremes such as over 100 degrees of temperature differential, snow, rain, floods, drought, frost, heat and humidity.

You get to maintain all this under the daily scrutiny of your members, owners, paying customers and managers. If you’re real lucky you can be blessed with golfers second guessing your every move – and this from the guys who couldn’t grow weeds on a vacant lot. Oh, and these days at a lot of financially stressed facilities, the owners will tap you on the shoulder and tell you to cut 15 percent off your budget.

Despite that rather negative depiction of the superintendent’s job there are some good situations to be had, and Greg Hollick recently landed one at Nashua Country Club. Hollick has walked into a very good situation at the thriving club on the banks of the mighty Merrimack River.

For Hollick, getting the Nashua job represents a bit of a homecoming. Although born in Wisconsin, he was raised in the Portsmouth area, the son of a career Air Force father. Taking advantage of the benefits of being a military dependent, Hollick was introduced to the game at the old Pease Air Force base golf course where he could play for $50 per year.

During his high school summers he worked for a landscaper which lead him to the University of New Hampshire and a Bachelor of Science degree in Plant Science. After running his own landscape business post graduation, he was offered a position as an assistant at Pease Golf Course, a modest beginning to what would become his career.

A fortuitous connection while at Pease got him started on his superintendent odyssey. He was offered a job in Arizona at the TPC Scottsdale where he worked for a couple years and that got him into the TPC network of courses that brought him back East to work on the construction and grow-in at TPC Jasna Polana on the old Johnson and Johnson estate in New Jersey.

Having gained a reputation as ground-up specialist he got his next job during the 2001 construction and grow in of the new TPC Boston in Norton, Mass. A job he considers his greatest learning experience under veteran super Tom Brodeur.

From TPC Boston, Hollick moved over to Cape Cod to work at Ballymeade Country Club in Falmouth, Mass. After several quick ownership changes, the eventual owners decided to build a high-end private club on adjacent land. So once again Hollick got to build another course from scratch, The Golf Club of Cape Cod.

When the head superintendent job opened up at Nashua Country Club, Hollick jumped at the chance to manage a staff of 10 full-time workers and six part-timers.

He loves the look of “the great traditional golf course” and appreciates walking into a very good situation where the golf course has undergone substantial improvements in recent years. He is involved in another, smaller scale grow in at Nashua with the new short game area set to open in June.

The six-day work weeks are long – with days starting at 5 a.m. and stretching to 6 p.m. – but Hollick is quite happy to have his own garden to tend back in the Granite State, where his professional journey started.