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"Serving the Golf Communities of NW Indiana and Chicago's South Suburbs"
                                    Although every golf course has a different set of “functions” that make their particular facility unique – there 
                                    also exist many similarities that make up the whole of the day-to-day operations of any g.c.

For this writing, I chose to talk about the actions involved in the operation of a “relatively normal” day at the beautiful Wicker Memorial Park Golf Course, located in Highland, Indiana. I selected Wicker Park for several reasons - #1 – The facility operates an (18) hole golf course – including a driving range. #2 – It offers additional amenities that give us a good idea of the multi-functional nature of a golf facility (and lastly) because it is open to the public – which is a more representative example of what most of us play on a regular basis. So let me see if I can give you a rough idea of what goes on.

The Course
Having already written a feature article – (May 2013 Golf Plus Newspaper) – I am going to pass on covering many of the details, history, etc. of WPGC – but if you would like to know more about this fine facility – you can log on to GolfPlusOnline.net – and hit “Course Reviews” – Wicker Park G.C. – and read about all it has to offer – which is a lot!

The Outside Story
5:00AM – In the maintenance building – the person involved in making sure all the many varieties of heavy equipment used in the moving of the grass, etc. – shows up – (usually Milan, in this case) – opens up, works on what equipment needs a little (or a lot) of TLC, and awaits the staff, who will be operating this equipment. At Wicker, the Park Director – Brett Bierman (and) the golf course Superintendent – Getty Sikora – share an office in this same building – and usually arrive by 5:30AM. At this point, Milan will point out any problems that may affect the day’s operating schedule for the equipment – and at approximately 6:00AM, the grounds staff arrives (and) are given their assignment(s). Within minutes, the many different styles of “mowers” move out to all areas of the course – all with their specific functions (greens, fairways, rough, etc.) – (and) with a very organized, almost military style precision; (while) another crew heads out to set new hole locations, and change up the tee areas – to best control the amount of wear inflicted upon the (2) areas of the course that every golfer is guaranteed to visit that day.

The Inside Story
Also – at 5:00AM – Mark Corey arrives at the golf shop with his legendary assortment of donuts – and within a short time, the shop staff, including a group of individuals, who have worked at Wicker for many, many years – and who are organized by Golf Manager, John Bierman – arrives and begins by setting up the tee sheet, going over any “issues” from the previous day, making out the banks for the shop – the driving range – the “nineteenth hole” – (and) – the all-important beverage cart that will fire up a little later in the day. The close by cart barn comes alive as the many carts emerge & are “staged” for use during the day.

Now here is where things change dramatically, depending on the day of the week – the “special” events that may be in play - *(WPGC is home to over (20) leagues (and) holds more than (40) golf outings per season) – but on, let’s say a normal “open for play” weekday – players start heading for the first tee (and) off we go!

More On The Outside
I’m going to have to move quickly or this will be the longest article in Golf Plus history! -So- while some of the staff – (and many volunteers) – pick up debris, remove trash, etc. – the grounds crew on the course is trying to stay ahead of play. Many working on the sand traps, trimming trees, repairing fences, filling ball washers, etc. – (and) trying to water whenever possible without disrupting play (and) all the while hoping to not be interrupted by the weather.

In the maintenance building, the work continues – involving: the setting up of fertilizing schedules, major course issues, personnel scheduling, budget proposals, necessary ordering of supplies and parts, etc. All the while, deliveries arrive, communication with the grounds crew is made as needed, and paperwork is shuffled from (1) pile to another and continually during this time, the phone in the reservation area, housed in the maintenance building, is the office that coordinates the operations for the picnic area, banquet facilities, etc. (Wicker Memorial Park also includes an incredible “Splash Pad” area, tennis courts, a dog park, and holds numerous special events during the summer – like the very popular Thursday Night Concert Series – (and ) it’s (225) beautiful total acres is surrounded by a very well-used (2+ mile) jogging/biking trail.

And Back To The Inside & Some of Both
The range has now been opened; the day to day mail, product ordering, banking, etc. are all being done, as well as the scheduling of the (55) member staff – (that includes about a dozen volunteers) – who will man the golf shop operations – (7) days a week – (12) months a year) – which entails over 30,000 rounds of golf that the course will see in 2016.

By now, the range balls need to be picked, cleaned, and restocked; the carts that are coming in are cleaned and re-set on charge; phone calls are being returned, and the golf course marshals are working on the pace of play – (and) of course that beverage cart is rolling right along!

The crew on the course is back on the course after a quick lunch – finishing the main areas of the golf course & moving out to the areas that are not necessarily in play – more supplies are arriving, and the golf course itself is chock-full of players!

Before You Know It
The grounds crew finishes up for the day – gases and cleans their “ride” – reports on any equipment issues – and maintenance begins to work on whatever is needed to get tomorrow off to a good start -and- all the while, that reservation line keeps ringing.

The players are finishing their rounds, the few folks at the bar are heading for the door, and the remaining carts are cleaned, inspected, and put to bed. The driving range is being picked clean – in case tomorrow is the day that it will be mowed. The golf shop receipts are tallied, notes on “issues” of the day are being written, and everything in the clubhouse is being readied for the next day.

Now what did I forget…that’s the point…hopefully nothing! It takes a lot of work & attention to detail, from an experienced staff, to make sure “everything” has been done when you have so many moving parts.

In Closing
This is what I consider just a “snap shot” of one facility, on one day, that involved about (100-200) “arrivals,” (150-200) “man-hours” – that also may have included a cart dying on the course for some reason, a mower breakdown, somebody acting like a fool after a couple cold ones, etc. – but once again – experienced people are ready to handle/and have seen most everything! (And) now…the sun has gone down!

Now, if you have ever worked at a golf course, you know the differences – outing days, league mornings, late arrivals – oh, those late arrivals! But over the years, I feel I have nailed down a couple of universal constants involving golf shop operations; The people who worked at our local golf courses, make as their #1 priority – the goal – of making your trip to the course a very enjoyable experience; the sun comes up very early…the weather is always changing…(and) that grass just keeps on growing!

Around The Tours
On the LPGA Tour, Swedish veteran, Anna Nordquist, won the Shoprite LPGA Classic for the second year in a row; and the following week, the 62nd women’s PGA Championship title went to (18) year old Brooke Henderson of Canada, in a playoff with world #1 Lydia Ko – making Ms. Henderson the youngest ever to win this prestigious event. *Note: And during this event, South Korean star, Inbee Park qualified for the LPGA Hall Of Fame – becoming the youngest ever to the Hall, in history – at age (27). While another young – (23) year old – S. Korean star – Sei Young Kim – won the Meijer LPGA Classic the next week, in a play-off with Carlota Ciganda, for her 2nd victory of the year. (And) closing out the month, Lydia Ko set a tournament record with a (17) under total at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship for her 3rd title of the year, and 13th career win!

The PGA Champions Tour held (3) events in June – seeing longtime PGA Tour veteran, Scott McCarron, get his 1st (50+) title at the Principal Charity Classic, held in Des Moines, Iowa; followed by another “major” championship title, going to (none other than) Mr. Bernhard Langer – at the Constellation Senior Players Championship – an event he has now won (3) years in a row – and which gives Mr. Langer (7) career senior major titles – trailing only Jack Nicklaus, who owns (8) – for most ever on the senior circuit; while Kirk Triplett captured the inaugural American Family Insurance Championship for his 5th career Champions Tour title.

The European Tour opened up June with the “Nordea Masters” – held in Stockholm, Sweden, an event that witnessed the former US Amateur champion – (21) year old Matthew Fitzpatrick – capture his 1st ever Euro Tour title – becoming the youngest ever to win this coveted crown; while the Lyndess Open of Austria also witnessed history – as Mr. Ashun Wu became the 1st ever Chinese golfer to win on European soil – globalization, thy name is golf! And to close out the month – Sweden’s Henrik Stenson won the BMW International Open in Pulheim, Germany – for his 10th career European victory – vaulting him to #5 in the world rankings.

And once again, the men’s PGA Tour did not fail to “bring it” – with excitement & interesting “firsts” in the month of June: Starting with “Jack’s Tourney” – The Memorial – held in Dublin, Ohio – which saw William McGirt get his 1st ever PGA title in a playoff with Jon Curran – a much needed & well-received victory for the (36) year old veteran of the tour; the following week, the tour moved to Memphis, Tennessee for the Fed-Ex St. Jude Classic – and saw (2015) Rookie of the Year – Daniel Berger (23) get his 1st PGA Tour victory; and then a little event – (the 116th men’s US Open) – was held at the Oakmont CC – (the 9th time Oakmont has hosted this event) – a course that opened in 1903, and – (with the purposeful elimination of approx. 15,000 trees! in recent years) – has returned to the original link-style course it was intended to be – witnessed rain, an incredible 1st major victory for Dustin Johnson, and controversy! I’m sure most of you saw the telecast – Did his ball move on the green by his efforts or on its own? – The USGA said he was deemed to be responsible, he received a (1) stroke penalty – and thank “goodness” – this did not affect the ultimate well-deserved title that went to Mr. Johnson. This win now gives DJ (9) straight years with a win on the PGA Tour – and with his talent, who knows what he may achieve going forward!

The controversy? – Obviously the USGA could have handled this much better – and many believe now, after much consideration – they still got it wrong, but I believe the USGA – (probably the most conscientious of the governing bodies in all of sports) – will take a long look at what happened, what may happen on greens running this fast, and will adjust – because at the end of the day, our game is nothing without fair & equitable rules.

And, (although all three of these June victories were “feel-good” stories) – the month closed with the “topper!” As Billy Hurley III won the Quicken Loans National title at the historic Congressional CC’s blue course in Bethseda, Maryland, for his 1st ever win on the PGA Tour. Why a “topper?” You see, Mr. Hurley -(34)- who grew up locally, and attended the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland – served our country for many years – putting off his entrance onto the tour for the betterment of us all, (and) because of his ex-tremely “low” ranking on the PGA Tour – was only an invited participant – (due in large part to tournament host, Mr. Tiger Woods) – (and) held off some Hall of Famer’s down the stretch to win! (And) on top of all this, Mr. Hurley faced emotions, which could have easily toppled the most seasoned of tour veterans – wish I had room to write the whole story – but briefly – Mr. Hurley’s father turned up missing at this event last year – a search located Mr. Hurley Sr., who was obviously involved with some very deep emotional issues – and most unfortunately, committed suicide a couple of weeks later…some athletes are winners, some are role models, but without a doubt, Mr. Billy Hurley III is both – I salute you, sir!

A few more congratulations & notes: Congrats to the University of Oregon’s men’s golf team – (including sophomore Aaron Wise – who captured the Men’s individual title, and Coach Casey Martin, who did such a brilliant job) – as they won the (119th) men’s NCAA Division I Golf Championship over a tough – (especially since Texas’s #1 player, Beau Hossler, was sidelined with a horrific looking injury) – Texas Longhorn squad – nice job Ducks!

Congrats and best wishes to Head Golf Professional, Mr. Bob Ford, on his departure from Oakmont CC after (40) years on the job at the club; and to Mr. Arnold Palmer, who has seen the proposed legislations in the state of Pennsylvania, incorporating the state parks into an “Arnold Palmer Golf Trail.” – Well deserved & very cool indeed.

And congratulations to my new all-time “golf name team” – Mr. Ollie Schniederjans, who own on the Web.com Tour in June & to probably the best ever – Ms. Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong! Who won the most recent Symetra Tour event! Where is Harry Caray when you need him! - *Reference only for those over a certain age! *Can’t help myself – Ms. S.S. may need (2) golf bags just to imprint her name!

First a few reminders: The 20th annual 59’er Golf Classic is being held Monday, July 18th at Sand Creek CC in Chesterton, IN – call (219)887-5959 for info. The following Monday (July 25th), the LaSalle Council Boy Scouts of America “Scramble For Scouts” will also be held at the Sand Creek CC – (219)241-7159 for details. (And) there’s still time to sign up for the 86th Lake-Porter Golf Classic being held at Palmira CC in St. John, IN – being held July 30th and 31st – call (219)365-4331 to join in.

(Also) – the 11th annual Make-A-Wish Foundation Golf Outing – sponsored by Carstar – is once again being held at the beautiful White Hawk CC in Crown Point, IN on Thursday, August 4th – great cause – if you can play or help, please call (219)663-0989. And another session of the very popular “Kids Camp” of golf instruction will be held at Wicker Park GC in Highland, IN July 18th thru the 21st – classes will be given in age groups from (8 to 18) by Golf Professional, Bill Springer – for details, call (219)838-9809.

And, for a preview of what promises to be a very exciting women’s competition in the (2016) Olympics, how about a trip up to the Merit Club Golf Course in Libertyville, Illinois to see some of the world’s best LPGA stars compete in the UL International Crown Team Championship? The event is being held July 18th thru the 24th – go to ulinternationalcrown.com for info. (&) speaking of the Olympics – which will include golf competition for the 1st time since 1904 – and is being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – with opening ceremonies starting on August 5th – we, unfortunately, will not be seeing many of the world’s great athletes participating – due to – (among other things) – the Zika virus scare; this includes, most recently, world #1 Jason Day – and will probably & eventually cause many others to miss the Olympic Games. What a really bad set of circumstances, as this was going to be a tremendous “stage” to grow the game worldwide – but it’s true – the risk is high, and I don’t think anyone should be criticized for their decision. (And) I am purposefully burying my pick for the (145th) British Open in this paragraph because I’ve missed (8) of the last (9)! This year – my pick is the former #1 in the world – Rory McIlroy – he hasn’t come thru with a major victory lately – but I see him going on another run – Tune in July 14th – 17th *Always great T.V.

Quick Shots
And here’s hoping you have a wonderful Fourth of July – enjoy your family and all the local festivals our fine Chambers of Commerce have put together. For a couple of events that never fail to please – try out the wonderful “Festival of The Lakes” held at the Wolf Lake Pavilion in Hammond, Indiana, July 20th thru the 24th, and during that time – (Saturday, July 23rd) – join in “The Festival of The Lakes Annual Fishing Derby” – always free – thanks to many sponsors – including the wonderful Hammond Optimist Club – bring the kids. They’ll love it – log on to www.festivaloflakes.com -or- call (219)577-6199 for details.

And I almost forgot – don’t miss the (6th) annual Giant Tent Sale that J&M Golf is putting on at their store in St. John, Indiana – it lasts (4) days – July 14th -17th and includes thousands of golf products at great prices & free giveaways to boot! Call (219)365-5611 for details/directions, etc.

My special thanks this month go out to: Mike Modrzejewski, who helps me beyond belief – and to Brett, John, Getty, Terry, and all the staff at Wicker Memorial Park. (And) if you have a suggestion for a feature article you would like to see covered -or- if you just want to chime in – please contact me at our e-mail address: golfplus3@netzero.com or leave me a voicemail at (219)947-4314, and to read past golf course reviews – or to just visit Golf Plus newspaper online – visit our website at GolfPlusOnline.net.

Lastly: On the recent US Open telecast, I loved these words spoken by PGA Tour winner & cancer survivor, Paul Azinger, who stated – (When observing a player who looked “out of sorts”) – “Bad attitudes are like flat tires. Unless you change them, you’re not going anywhere!” – So true, so true…

See ya next month - Pete

A Day In The Life - Of Your Local Course
by Pete Mandich
GPO Correspondent