Paul Robertson’s dynamic career challenges his artistic sensibilities, fuels his scientific knowledge and – twenty two years later – never ceases to surprise him.
As the golf course superintendent at the Victoria Golf Club, Paul must wear a myriad of hats. His training for this multifaceted role began in high school, when he spent his summers working in golf course maintenance crews.
By the time he reached university, the pull of golf courses was so strong Paul put his Bachelor of Science on hold in order to pursue a full time position with St. Brieux Golf Club in Saskatchewan.
In the intervening years, Paul has participated in the grow-ins, construction, and management of a number of golf courses in Alberta and British Columbia. He has also completed education in turfgrass management – at both college and post-secondary level – and he is currently finishing his Master of Business Adminstration with an emphasis on Project Management.
“Turfgrass management is definitely comprised of artistic elements – all you have to do is observe the contours, shapes and landscapes of a course and you can’t help but agree,” says Paul, who notes that this natural beauty is made possible through an in-depth scientific knowledge.
And if these two integral disciplines are at the heart of a superintendent’s responsibilities, then financial officer, human resources advisor and project manager are not far behind.
When asked to describe a typical day, it becomes evident that each one is as unique as that of a golf course landscape. “Early morning course tours, problem solving, more problem solving, meetings, lunch on the fly, and then more problem solving in the afternoon,” says Paul.
With a multi-million dollar operation, not to mention a ten-year development plan, including an in-house construction team, Paul’s days often begin long before the sun rises on his verdant greens.
Furthermore, as a leader and mentor, Paul also feels compelled to guide young protégés, so that they might enjoy similar successes. “I would strongly encourage young people to get as much diverse experience as they can,” notes Paul, who says that his time at various courses helped to broaden his horizons and focus his interests.
As for the long hours and intense responsibilities, Paul remarks that this is simply par for the course. “Superintendents tend to be highly-motivated ‘doers’,” says Paul, who notes that chief among his challenges has been learning to work with diverse personalities and to accept that not everyone will agree with his decisions. Yet he is convinced that any drawbacks are far outweighed by the benefits.
“I liken my role to that of a backstage manager,” says Paul, admitting that whenever he attends an event, he always wonders at the amount of work that goes into producing an amazing concert or a theatre production.
Back on the course, Paul is all too aware of the effort required to maintain a top-notch experience for both his guests and employees to enjoy. But he is convinced that it is worth every minute. “I get to breathe, live and work in some of the most beautiful places on earth,” says Paul, whose enthusiasm is palpable.
“There is nothing more satisfying than creating a work of art from soil and sod that will last for decades – maybe centuries. I get paid to witness small miracles each and every day.”