A couple questions for you. First answer that comes to your head… What is your favorite golf movie? If you said anything besides Caddyshack, you are wrong. How could you not like the chemistry between Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield and others (a majority of which was improvised).
Who is your favorite character? For the self-deprecating superintendent, it has to be Carl Spackler. Bill Murray plays Carl, the assistant superintendent, who is a hilarious embodiment of a golf course maintenance employee and aspiring superintendent. Carl the bentgrass growing, Dalai Lama caddying, pool cleaning, chinch bug and manganese specialist has several legendary and timeless quotes. Honestly speaking, my favorite is his childlike reenactment of the crucial moments of a tournament where he is hitting the flowers outside the clubhouse. In front of the normally reserved Augusta crowd he hits a “Cinderella Story” 195 yard, 8 iron in the hole.
My second favorite quote comes at the beginning of the movie when Sandy, the stereotypical Scot Superintendent asks Carl to, “Kill every gopher on the course,” in his thick accent. Carl mistakenly believes he said golfer and responds with, “Check me if I’m wrong Sandy, but if I kill all the golfers, they’re gonna lock me up and throw away the key…” Of course he wasn’t referring to golfers, he was referring to, “the little brown furry rodents!” To which Carl distinctly replies, “We can do that… We don’t even have to have a reason.” From that point on Carl’s mission is clear, remove the pesky gopher, luckily for us to no avail. I enjoyed watching the gopher dance.
Although Carl does have some over exaggerations of our profession, this one area in particular especially so. For the average Troon superintendent the gopher is not nearly the nuisance, I’ll explain to you why. It is a requirement for Troon properties to be Audubon Cooperative Sanctuaries. This means that the superintendent has completed and received certification in six categories: environmental planning, water conservation, chemical use reduction and safety, water quality management, outreach, and wildlife and habitat management. The last is the one that protects our furry, little, Kenny Loggins loving buddy. In fact, superintendents within Troon want golfers to recognize that quality playing conditions and good stewardship go hand in hand.
One example of this is at Sewailo Golf Club (Tucson, Arizona), a facility that has been Audubon certified since near opening. They have been working with a bird watcher for nearly 2 years to monthly monitor bird populations and species diversity. The monitoring has shown a total of 110 species and populations that continue to climb with the maturing course landscape. They have even seen some rare and unique birds for the southern Arizona region. Mammal, amphibian and reptile populations also have seen an increase in the area since the introduction of the course.
Sewailo has dedicated itself to developing environmentally sound maintenance practices that also enhance and continue to improve the habitat on property, but it’s not only for the wildlife. Sewailo is also a steward to pollinators being both a Syngenta Operation Pollinator course as well as a Monarch Watch course. Both of these programs assist in the successful conservation of pollinator habitats. Operation Pollinator, in ensuring that the golf course provides attractive wildflowers for bumblebees, butterflies and pollinating insects. Operation Monarch by providing a way point with desirable flowers for the traveling Monarch Butterfly. Both of these programs ensure that the chemical practices on the property do not diminish or harm vital and desirable organisms.
So, unfortunately for Carl, if he was on a Troon property, he would have to make amends with the gopher and determine whether he really was becoming detrimental to the golf course. He no longer could be a man, free to kill gophers at will and take on the Varmint Cong. Like Carl, Troon superintendents would have to “fall back on superior intelligence” but instead to be a better steward. “And that’s all she wrote…”