These are the three key ingredients to producing world class golf greens, says Chris Clarkson, the Spalding Park Golf Club Greens Superintendent. And he’d know. With almost 50 years of experience under the belt, the golf club legend has taken on the heady challenge of producing prime golfing greens right here in our back yard.
Through his dedication and passion for the sport, Chris was instrumental in driving the crucial changeover from the Club’s sand greens to grass in 1975, and helped put Spalding Park Golf Club on the map for their very successful saltine grass, which despite much scepticism, is now an attraction for many visiting amateur and professional golfers.
“I’m up early every morning. There’d be 14 or 15 hectares of grass out there, so there’s a fair bit to do in a day,” Chris says quietly, “I work about 60 hours per week – it’s no small job to stay on top of, but every morning I wake up and I just can’t wait to get to work.
“I joined the club in my early 20s when it was off-season for the local fishing industry and there wasn’t much to do. My friend was a member at the club and invited me along to play some golf and I took to it straight away, just playing casually.
“But it wasn’t long before I realised lots of members of the club also volunteered their time in various ways, and I felt a bit guilty not giving back so I got involved too…The rest is history.”
Chris’ work ethic is phenomenal, tirelessly volunteering 60 hours per week including weekends and through public holidays with his only payment being some friendly banter at the bar along with a cold drink at the end of the day.
“I got really involved in looking after the greens, even though I knew little about golf greens when I’d first started. But regardless of the challenges, I do it because I love volunteering, it’s a good challenge and I enjoy being part of this club it’s as simple as that. The novelty hasn’t worn off,” Chris said.
Spalding Park Golf Club is now a renowned regional destination for travelling professional golfers and particularly known for its annual Spalding Park Open, held in June, which attracts hundreds of golf supporters and visitors to the region.
This year, the team behind the Mid West Sports Federation’s Mid West Sports Tourism Project will work alongside the Spalding Park Open event to capture information about the impacts sporting events have on our local economy.
As part of the 12-month data collection project, local clubs and associations are being engaged to help capture valuable information about sporting events in the Mid West, and the positive benefits to the local economy and tourism sectors that they bring.
Though the project targets visitors from outside of the region who are attending sporting events in the Mid West, the potential positive impact for local clubs and associations is huge and could help leverage more promotion, future funding and support to bring more nationally-recognised events to the region, says Sue Patman, the Mid West Sports Tourism Project Coordinator.
“It’s time to showcase the outstanding achievements of our Mid West sports community and raise the profile of the local sports and sports tourism industries in the Mid West. Recent successes, such as the AFL pre-season game and the Australian Country Cricket Championships, have proven that we can match it on the big stage, so it’s time to sing our praises and establish the Mid West as a preferred destination for significant sporting events,” Sue said.
“The Sports Federation is proud to support this massive event which brings so much to our region, and we want to hear from more of our Mid West sporting community.
“This project is a wonderful opportunity for the Federation to provide them with the support and resources they need to continue hosting significant events, such as the Spalding Park Open, in the future.”
The Mid West Sports Tourism project launched in January 2018 and is running until 31 December 2018. To get your local club or association involved, please visit www.mwsf.org.au or call the Sports Federation on 9956 2178.