This golf season has provided probably more interesting challenges for Andy Eick than any of the eight previous seasons he has worked at Mohawk Golf Club — or any of the 11 seasons that preceded his arrival at the Schenectady, New York, club.
The season opened with more winter damage than normal and 11 new members on a 22-person crew. It continued with the demolition of one of his team’s three small maintenance facilities as part of a two-year project to more than triple the maintenance footprint from about 6,000 square feet to more than 19,000 square feet. All equipment has been parked ever since under a 40-by-30 circus tent.
“It’s great,” says Eick, who was promoted in January 2019 from superintendent to director of facilities and agronomy, “because it gives you an opportunity to take a look at your standard operating procedures and your training processes, and reinvent the wheel a little bit. How can we do things better? How can we train people better? How can we onboard people better?
“Managing a golf course is like making chili. There are so many different recipes, but it’s all chili. Every property, you take what you like, you take what you don’t like, and you kind of make your own batch when you get your chance to be behind the desk.”
Eick has benefitted from some consistency this season at the 124-year-old club designed by Devereux Emmet, originally operated by General Electric, and recently purchased by a longtime member — most notably in superintendent Eric Westervelt and assistant Joseph Perry. The pair are now in their fifth and third years, respectively, at the club.
Eick has also maintained the same PGR program for much of the last three years, anchored by SePRO’s Musketeer. “There’s something to it,” he says. “The clipping yield you get from it, the regulation you get from it, it makes the leaf blade thinner, and you can maintain really good green speeds with a single cut and a roll. It does really well on my putting surfaces. It’s performed very, very well. I’m all in on Musketeer.”
Eick and his team had used a variety of other PGRs prior to switching to Musketeer in 2020, with none providing anything close to the current level of control. Their agronomic plan calls for introducing Musketeer on greens and approaches early during the spring, then running with it through the whole season. “You can see how it works,” he says. “And the bentgrass just loves it. It starts exploding and creeping over top.”
Musketeer gives Eick one less challenge and worry, and allows him to appreciate the Blackberry Moments — a term coined by Ernie Johnson Jr., the longtime host of TNT’s Inside the NBA studio show, to describe “those unscripted moments that make your life unpredictable and extraordinary.”
Among Eick’s many Blackberry Moments: Meeting his wife, Natalie, when they were both children, then starting to date after reconnecting at The Quechee Club in Vermont when he was a seasonal intern and she was running the kids camp … bringing his two pups — Louie, a 4-year-old white-and-red lab he describes as a “goober,” and Shelby, a 6-year-old charcoal lab who loops the property as soon as she arrives — to the course every morning … and still relieving stress by spending some time with the daily maintenance tasks that filled days earlier in his career. He especially loves helping rake the 82 bunkers scattered across the grounds. The best are the 11 that surround the club’s signature punchbowl 15th green.
“We have tunnel vision,” Eick says. “We don’t sit back and enjoy the moment around us. We don’t take a deep breath and just enjoy the moment. Embrace the unpredictable moments in life. Being a golf course superintendent, it’s constant problem-solving. It’s unpredictability.
“Take a moment and just enjoy what’s going on.” ?