Almost anyone who has golfed in Hillsboro anytime in the past 30 years or so knows who Gary Andrews is, because he is always around the golf course and always friendly.
“Gary has done amazing things for the Hillsboro Golf Course,” Hillsboro City Administrator Matt Stiles said. “Gary works as hard as anyone I’ve ever known and has devoted himself to making sure Hillsboro has a superb golf course. Gary is also the first one to offer a hand or advice on other projects around the city. Expertise and work ethic like that don’t come around very often, and the city has been lucky to have Gary all these years.”
Andrews has been the superintendent at the Hillsboro GolfCourse for almost 32 years. He is retiring at the beginning of the year, although he is basically done now and taking vacation time for the rest of the year.
“I’ve been in the business for 42 years. I was here for 32 years, and then I did 10 years in Salina at the country club. My dad and brother were both golf course superintendents as well. And so was my uncle. I guess it was the family business,” Andrews said.
The city honored him with a retirement party on Friday, Nov. 19, where they recognized him for his many achievements over the years.
When asked what achievement he was most proud of, Andrews said, “The number one achievement is we put irrigated fairways in 1996. Carl Long used to be president of Hillsboro State Bank and was president of the golf course at the time. We put our heads together and decided it would take about 1,000 hours of volunteer labor to get it done, so we did that in the Spring of 1996. That fall, we planted out fairways to blue grass and rye grass.”
Andrews kept shying away from taking any credit of his own but shared it with others, always saying “we.”
“And then the second greatest accomplishment is we converted all that to Zoysia grass two years ago. It’s a warm season grass that takes a lot less water and a lot less fertilizer. We are getting ahead of the ball on the conservation load. We are not in any kind of water restrictions right now, but we are getting ahead of it right now,” said Andrews.
He explained that he tried to not only maintain the course but set it up for those who will come after him.
“We have taken a lot of old trees out and planted a lot of new ones in. We try to plant at least six to eight new ones a year to keep replenishing the ones we have to take out,” said Andrews.
It is a lot of work, but he loves it, which is a good thing since he figured he works around 60 hours a week from the first of April to the first of November, including weekends.
Andrews said, “I just absolutely love being outside. Looking back and seeing the improvements that you have made and what it looks like.”
He is quick to point out that he couldn’t have done anything without all of the volunteers who help out.
“If I need anything, I just send out a text or pick up the phone, and I have any number of people willing to help out. It is just amazing.That keeps our rates down; that just keeps everything reasonably priced,” said Andrews.
He said the volunteer system was already in place when he got here and has just basically maintained itself over the years. He hopes it continues, and he told them all he hopes they keep it up for the next guy.
The next guy is Avery Unruh, who has grown up in Hillsboro and recently graduated from Tabor College.
Andrews plans to catch up on projects, relax, and work on his wife Sally’s to do list. He also plans to visit his grandsons in Topeka and spend time with them. Ironically, he hasn’t had much time to golf the past few years, in spite of spending a majority of his time at a golf course. So he is hoping to be able to start golfing again once he is retired.
“I may wait a little bit so that Avery doesn’t just think I am checking up on him,” said Andrews with a chuckle. “But I will get back out there.”