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Cutting to the chase

Mike VidakovichSideline StoriesGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson
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GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. Golf maintenance work swung into Jim Richmonds life when he least expected it.The spring of 1986 found Richmond working as a plumber on a remodeling project at Glenwood Springs Elementary School. He was employed by K&B Plumbing of Glenwood and was very content with learning a new trade and making a good living for himself. He wasnt really in the market for a new job.Following a weekend round at the Glenwood Golf Club, the course where he first learned the game, Richmond was unexpectedly approached by head professional John Benzel and offered a position on the course maintenance crew. The pay would be much less than he was making at the time, but the decision was an easy one for Richmond and would turn out to be a stroke of fortune for the hometown course.To pursue the love of golf and be more closely involved with the game was an opportunity I couldnt pass up, said Richmond.Upon accepting the position, Richmond had little idea that the job would escalate from maintenance worker to course superintendent in just a few short months when Steve Fowlers abrupt departure left an opening at the top.Benzel quickly hired Richmond to oversee the maintenance operations and shoulder the responsibility of keeping the courses reputation for high standards intact.Richmond had at his disposal former superintendent Hank Snook and longtime crew member Bob Swanson to help guide him and iron out the rough spots that first year in charge.I leaned heavily on those two for help and advice, Richmond stated. I had a good crew to work with.

Richmond, who was a four-year letterman on the Glenwood High School golf team from 1977-1980 and carries a 6 handicap, is quick to point out that he still has a good crew to work with.Jim Farris, Eric Lundin, and Clarence Muhme are all part of the current team that keep the course green and well-groomed. Farris, who is in his eighth season at the course, gives credit to Richmond for the team atmosphere amongst the maintenance staff and for the close knit crew he has assembled.He trusts in us enough that he asks our opinions on things. We talk about what needs to be done on the course, said Farris. That gives me pride in what I am doing.With the Glenwood Open teeing off July 6-8, Richmond and company put a little extra pride and pampering into their efforts in order to ensure a pleasurable, but challenging experience for the tournament golfers.And will there be any special modifications to the course in preparation for the tournament?We wont necessarily let the rough grow or anything like that. The trees on the course provide enough of an obstacle for the golfers, said the superintendent. We will try to speed up the greens a bit to defend the course. We try to protect par in the Open.Its a safe bet that making sure all golfers, tournament players or otherwise, come away from the Glenwood Golf Course with the feeling of time well-spent is much more important to Jim Richmond than protecting par ever will be.People take their golf pretty serious, said Richmond. Its nice to know were giving them enjoyment by providing a quality place to play.Greg Gortsema, who is the head professional at the Glenwood Golf Club, sums up Richmonds contributions to the course through the years best.Invaluable. The work he does with the small crew he has, he said of Richmond. There arent many out there like him. Sidelines is a biweekly feature of the Post Independent. Have an idea for a good Sidelines subject? E-mail sports@postindependent.com or call 384-9125.


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