A four-member maintenance crew helps the Winter Park Golf Course remain one of the nicest nine-hole golf courses in the country.
It’s one of Winter Park’s most cherished resources. It’s been recognized nationally and even featured on the Golf Channel. It’s the Winter Park Golf Course — a gem that’s carefully polished and maintained by a group of unsung heroes.
A maintenance crew comprising Golf Course Superintendent Ed Batcheller, Mike Dague, Robert Spencer and Moses Figueroa keeps the golf course in its pristine condition. They leave it ready to be played and enjoyed by local residents and visitors alike.
But what exactly does it take to keep a golf course looking so nice? The answer: a strict schedule of routine mowings and careful attention to detail — seven days a week.
Beyond mowing the greens at one-eighth of an inch every day with surgical precision, the crew mows the fairways and tees two days a week and rakes the bunkers daily.
That work continues all throughout the year — rain or shine — with each crew member putting in about 40 hours a week, said Batcheller, adding that the summer months require an even closer watch of the course because of all the frequent rain.
Beyond maintaining the course, the crew also sets the pins five days a week, changing the layout of the course by moving the flags to different areas of the green. In many ways, it’s the crew of four workers that decides the difficulty of the course on any given day, Batcheller said.
“I tell the guys that we have nine holes — make three easy, three difficult and three in-between,” he said.
“We also do that with the tee markers. … There’s three sets of tee markers. You’ve got the ladies’, the men’s, and you’ve got the pro tees. We’ll move those around the same way with the pins.”
The crew knows full well they’re working every day on something special, Dague said. The course looks nicer than ever after its renovation that began in March 2016 and finished October of that same year. That project saw the entire course get a facelift with added contouring, bunkers, new fairways and stunning greens.
“It’s a top-five nine-hole course in America,” Dague said. “Just go on the Golf Channel. There were 36,000 rounds (played) in our first full year after renovation.
“I follow everything on social media,” he said. “I follow all the architects and the golf course and the Golf Channel and stuff, so every time it gets talked about, I see it. Every time you see something get talked about where you just came from, you have to feel good about it.”
Winter Park Assistant Director of Communications Craig O’Neil said the golf-course maintenance crew — like many city employees — may go largely unnoticed, but they are a part of what makes Winter Park special.
“They’re out working in the elements, the heat and the rain,” he said. “They’re what really makes the city as beautiful as it is.”