Canadian golf course architect Jeff Mingay may not have the same name recognition as Alister MacKenzie, Donald Ross or the legendary Stanley Thompson, but give him time. He just turned 40 this year.
Born and raised in Windsor, Ont., Mingay’s passion, some might even say, obsession, for his chosen career has helped him carve a niche in a profession that demands excellence and shuns mediocrity.
His star has certainly been on the rise, having worked on high-profile projects such as Cabot Links (ranked as one of the best courses in the world by Golf and Golf Digest magazines), Sagebush Golf and Sporting Club, The Derrick Club, and most recently, the Victoria Golf Club.
Canadian Groundskeeper sat down with the up-and-coming architect to discuss his passion for design, his proudest achievements thus far, and what it is like to be away from your family 200 days a year.
Justin Westerink, assistant superintendent at Dalewood Golf Club in Port Hope, Ont., is a big Bob Dylan fan, so much so that when he got his black Labrador retriever he named him after the iconic singer.
Fast forward one and a half years to today, and Dylan can be found hard at work shadowing Westerink as he performs his daily duties.
“He usually hangs around the shop after we do our morning rounds so he does not steal anyone’s ball or interrupts their game,” explains Westerink.
However, on rainy days as the number of players dwindles, Dylan is given free run of the course, and he delights in running up and down the fairways and chasing the geese.
“He is a valued member of the grounds crew,” says Westerink. “He is great at boosting staff morale.”
When he’s not on the golf course he has meticulously maintained for over a decade, superintendent Doug Meyer can be found playing hockey or enjoying a round of golf with the boys. But when you have been involved in sport and the local community as much as Meyer, the ‘boys’ just so happen to be some of the biggest names in professional hockey—Patrick Roy, Guy Lafleur, and P.K. Subban, to name a few.
However, Meyer takes hanging out with some of the Montreal Canadiens’ elite all in stride; his commitment to excellence and his job remain at the fore of most everything he does, which is what you would expect from an individual who has devoted nearly 40 years of his life to the golf course maintenance profession.
Tim Muys, superintendent at Piper’s Heath Golf Club in Milton, Ont., is the proud owner of a three-year-old silken windhound named Maple. Never heard of such a breed? “That’s okay, says Muys, not many have, and ‘what type of breed is she?’ is the number one question I get asked when people meet Maple for the first time.”
“The silken windhound is a sighthound with a long silky coat, explains Muys. “The breed looks similar to a borzoi and is affectionate and playful. They are also great racers.”
Indeed, Maple makes quick work of chasing geese off the course along with many other small critters she happens upon.
“She is a sprinter by nature, so her brief spurts of energy are followed by long naps in the shop,” Muys adds.
And when she is not napping or chasing wildlife, Maple can be found at Muys’ side, patrolling the course and greeting golfers.
Basil, a.k.a. Baz, is a three-year-old American standard boxer. She has been with Trevor Morvay, superintendent at Sawmill Creek Golf Resort and Spa in Camlachie, Ont., since she was a puppy.
When asked to describe Baz’s job, Morvay holds up three fingers and begins counting: geese control, therapist, and social director, he says.
Morvay explains she is very good a chasing geese off the course, but really excels at the latter two tasks.
“If you are having a bad day, playing with Baz for a little while can alleviate the stress,” says Morvay. “And if you happen to have a sandwich in your hand, you are guaranteed to have her undivided attention!”
Greeting golfers has also become a Baz specialty. So much so, players now carry treats in their pockets for when they see her and even give Morvay their tee times for the following day or two with hopes he will bring her by for a quick pat or a good luck tail wag.