LATE last year Beerwah Golf Club in the Sunshine Coast hinterland organised a special evening to thank its sponsors and volunteers for their contributions throughout the year.
They also invited the club’s superintendent Stephen Milgate to attend the function.
An unassuming character, Milgate didn’t know the club also wanted to pay tribute to him for his loyal and dedicated service over the past 20 years.
“Had he known he probably wouldn’t have turned up,” said the club’s communications and development officer Jason Voros.
“Steve is not big on accolades and was shocked when the club presented him with a trophy for his 20 years’ service. He normally brushes off praise and just gets on and does his job.”
Milgate’s association with Beerwah began when he was still at school and a junior member of the club.
“When I was in Year 11 I did work experience one day a week at the golf club and when I finished school they offered me an apprenticeship,” he said.
Milgate has been the superintendent for the past “six or seven years” and loves his work and the club.
“The club is great and we have nice, down-to-earth members,” he said.
“When I took on the superintendent’s role I could see there was definitely a future for the club because the area was expanding.
“And it was exciting for me and the ground staff because we were not just looking after the course but getting to experience building greens.
“In my time I have build 10 greens and we still have six or seven to go.
“It’s an exciting part of the job and I get excited when I get to show apprentices how to do the build.”
“Milgate has a small team of five ground staff and, like many clubs, relies heavily on volunteers to keep the course looking nice.
“We have about 20 volunteers and they are great,” he said. “They are a good bunch of people who are full of ideas.
“You can’t improve or maintain a golf course to a high standard with a low level of staff so the volunteers do make a difference.”
Still, there are times when their enthusiasm needs reining in.
“They (volunteers) all come on the same day, which makes it hard on machinery,” Steve explained.
“Sometimes I will look for a machine to drive around the course to have a look and there is nothing there because the staff and volunteers have taken it all.
“I then have to walk around or jump on a greens mower to have a look around and make sure everyone is doing the right thing.
“But without the volunteers we wouldn’t have the golf course we have.”
For Milgate, his staff and the volunteers it’s a never ending job maintaining and improving the course for the benefit of members and guests.
“The challenge is to maintain the course to a high standard and to try to keep improving it,” he said.
If Milgate had a magic wand he would use it to create fairway irrigation and build a larger dam.
“It would be nice to have fairway irrigation because the members demand nice fairways all year round,” he said.
“Most of the members are understanding and encourage us as ground staff, which is good because they know the hurdles we face.
“We all want a perfect golf course and I tell the members I don’t leave here thinking the course is perfect. Every week we walk away knowing some things could be better, but we only have a small team and we do strive for perfection.”
As for his own golf game, Milgate says he used to be a good golfer when he played off a five handicap.
But with a heavy workload and a young family he seldom gets time to play and practice.
“I’m not an A grade player and I’m not a B grader,” he said. “I’m somewhere in-between. I have a handicap of a B grader and some members say I’m a B grade burglar,” he laughed.