A craftsman who stays the course

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Behind every precious gem is a master craftsman who makes it sparkle.



The Hillsboro Golf Association feels that way about the work of Gary

Andrews. As superintendent for the past 10 years, Andrews has taken

the city?s public nine-hole course out of the rough and shaped and

polished it into a precious gem for the city?and for the growing

number of golfers in central Kansas who come to play on it regularly.



?That course wouldn?t be what it is today if it hadn?t been for Gary,?

says Carl Long, association president. ?The course wouldn?t be in the

condition it is today. The way that place looks and plays, and the

people that it?s bringing to town and to the course, are all the

result of Gary.?



?I love my job,? Andrews says without prompting. ?I take pride in what

I do. I like to look back and see stuff looking nice. That makes it

well worth it.?



For Andrews, caring for golf course has been a way of life. His

father, Tom, was the superintendent at the Salina Country Club for

281/2 years. Dad made the job a family affair.



?The weekend crew at Salina Country Club used to be our family,?

Andrews recalls. ?Myself, my brother, my sister, my mom and dad would

be out there on the weekends. We just took it from there.?



Andrews began helping his father when was around 10 years old. He

started by raking sand traps and picking up trash. Once he reached the

age of 16, he began operating the mowers and other equipment.



Apparently, the work has an addictive quality for the Andrews family.

Gary began working at the Salina course full time in 1981 and stayed

their until 1990, when he came to Hillsboro. His brother, Marvin, is

the superintendent at a 27-hole course in Albuquerque, N.M.



Gary heard about the opening in Hillsboro by word of mouth and applied

for it. The job originally included the courses in Hillsboro and

Marion. Soon, the Hillsboro course became his full-time calling,

though his job also includes maintaining the Sports Complex grounds

which are adjacent to the golf course.



Coming to Hillsboro was a good move, Andrews says.



?I love this town,? he says. ?The people here are so supportive behind

me. If I need any help out here with stuff we can?t get done, I just

call for volunteers and volunteers will come out of the woodwork.?



He says volunteers made it economically feasible for the local course

to experience its most dramatic change during Andrews? arrival:

irrigated fairways.



?There?s well over a thousand hours of volunteer time that went into

the irrigated fairways,? he says. ?We could have never done it without

volunteer labor. It would have been too expensive to hire it done.?



That project is only one of several improvements made on the course

during Andrews? tenure. When he came, the course had grass greens, but

rough, buffalo grass fairways. Today those fairways are a plush

mixture of rye and bluegrass.



In addition to that, the course added a new shop, equipment storage

shed and cart shed. The association has also added a driving range to

the west of the course.



One of the biggest changes has been the addition of more trees.



?We probably planted in the neighborhood of 200 to 300 trees since

I?ve been here, and we?ve done a lot of tree trimming,? Andrews says.



Andrews? job is to coordinate and carry out the improvements?all the

while maintaining what?s already there.



During the playing season, his regime includes changing the pin

placements four times a week, raking the sand traps four times a week,

and mowing the greens everyday, the fairways three times a week, the

tee boxes and fringes twice a week, and the rough about once a week.



?It?s a lot of mowing,? Andrews said. The task requires him to begin

at 5:30 every morning so he can stay ahead of the playing traffic. For

the summer, he has a full-time helper, Andrew Pschigoda.



Still, Andrews says he easily puts in 65-70 hours a week.



?Right now, the grass is slowing down and it?s cutting the hours

down,? he says. ?But the hours do get very long and tedious

sometimes.?



In the off season, Andrews focuses his primary attention to

maintaining the equipment.



?I go through every bit of equipment, tear it all down, repair what

needs it,? he says. ?I can overhaul motors?whatever it takes. We do

preventive maintenance more than anything. That way you can keep

running during the summer time.?



?Gary?s not afraid to work,? Carl Long says. ?He will do whatever it

requires to get the job done. He put lights on the greens mower so

that if he had to be out there before the sun comes up to mow the

greens, he could be out there.?



All that work is paying big dividends for the course?and for the

community. Andrews estimates course usage has quadrupled since he?s

been here.



Last year, that amounted to about 20,000 rounds of golf?much of played

by golfers from out of town.



?Weekends out here are very, very busy most of the time,? Andrews

says. ?During the weekends you can come out here and be a stranger on

your own course. All you have to do is drive into the parking lot?and

I encourage anybody to do that?and look at the out-of-county (car)

tags. There?s a lot of people paying greens fees coming into this

town.?



That additional income, plus the investment of volunteer labor, has

enabled the local association to make many of the course improvements

without a significant increase in membership fees?only a $30 increase

since 1996.



The local greens fees are affordable, too, Andrews says. A golfer can

play 18 holes for $10 and an unlimited number of holes for $15.



?So many golf courses are getting away from affordable golf,? Andrews

says. ?We?re very affordable.?



The combination of affordability and an accessible, well-kept course

has made it attractive to golfers even from Wichita.



?The amount of people we get from the Wichita area is amazing,?

Andrews says. ?They say they can come up here and play, and still get

home faster than if they?d go play one of the courses in Wichita.

They?re that busy. People like it here.?



Andrews is well aware that the local golf association isn?t the only

ones to benefit from the traffic.



?The way we look at it, they?re not only here to play golf,? he says.

?They?re going to spend money to go eat, to buy gas?they?re going to

do something while they?re here. So consider it a good investment for

the town.?



Andrews feels the Hillsboro course has become one of the finest

nine-hole course around.



?It?s attention to fine details,? he says. ?This week, for instance,

we took a Weed Eater around the whole course. It?s the fine details

that people notice.?



More improvement projects are on the horizon, including making rock

banks along the creeks to prevent erosion from big rains, irrigating

the driving range, replacing some of the old, deteriorating elm trees

on the course with new, big trees, and pouring a concrete parking area

at the front of the club house for golf carts.



Once again, volunteers will be called upon to help. And Andrews is

sure they?ll respond.



?That?s the way it is out here all the time,? he says. ?If I need any

help, or if we have a big project going on, the volunteers are there.?



That support, plus the benefits of the community, will keep Andrews

here a long, long time, he says.



?We?ve got a great school system here,? he says. ?I don?t know why I?d

want to take my kids o

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