The journey to the top of the golf course maintenance hierarchy has been years in the making for Jordan Joye but even he didn’t expect it would come to fruition in southwestern Manitoba.
However, an opportunity to reach it in Brandon was one the 28-year-old couldn’t pass up.
After Glen Lea Golf Course and its former superintendent Tim Benstead parted ways in the off-season, Joye jumped at the chance to be the "head cheese" for the first time after he heard from Matt Nylen, Clear Lake Golf Course’s head professional, that Jason Earl was in search of a new superintendent.
Having worked on the grounds crew at Clear Lake for four years, including two as the assistant superintendent, Joye comes to Glen Lea with several years of experience.
"I knew this was the area I kind of wanted to end up in, whether it was Brandon or around southwestern Manitoba," Joye said.
As a spry young 14-year-old, Joye was, as he called it, "promoted" to the grounds crew at the Killarney Lakeside Golf Course after a season of cleaning carts and picking range balls. He would spend five years at his hometown course before moving to the Wheat City to study political science at Brandon University.
Joye’s fascination and love for being part of a golf course maintenance crew grew when he spent a summer at Banff Springs Golf Club before heading to Riding Mountain National Park and joining the staff at Clear Lake.
"I think the office is nice, being able to be outside," Joye said. "Some days are better than others but golfers don’t quit for rain and cold and wind, so obviously we need to be out there working in cold and wind and rain. But I’d say 80 or 90 per cent of the time it’s nice and sunny and you get to be outside all day and it’s just a good atmosphere to be around.
"Plus, I like to golf and I like the game so you actually care about what you’re doing and providing a finished product is really satisfying, especially when you have a hand in getting it there."
Joye credits Clear Lake superintendent Greg Holden for changing his mindset about golf course maintenance from a summer job to one that could be a career halfway through his stint there.
As such, he went to Olds College in southern Alberta and earned his turfgrass management diploma in 2012 to go along with his political science degree from BU.
From there, Joye went to Victoria for the 2013 season where he worked as a second assistant superintendent at Olympic View Golf Club. He spent the next two years as the assistant superintendent at Bootleg Gap Golf Course in Kimberley, B.C., before returning to the Prairies last year, occupying the same role at Deer Park Golf Course in Yorkton, Sask.
He said it’s tough leaving courses in the mountains and returning to the prairies but being close to family in Westman is a great tradeoff.
And now Joye is the one calling the shots.
"It’s a bit more stressful," Joye admitted. "As an assistant you are there to help the superintendent make the big decisions, where now it’s me making the big decisions and at a smaller course I’m just getting my feet wet.
Joye likes doing things himself but with the challenge of learning the ins and outs of a new golf course, he told his maintenance crew at a meeting on Tuesday that he is going to rely on their expertise as he familiarizes himself with Glen Lea.
He also believes the biggest challenge for him this season is adjusting to the golf course he is in charge of and preparing it for the public.
"If there’s golfers out there we’re there," Joye said. "We’ve got to supply the product that golfers are paying for and expect regardless of the conditions."
Nonetheless, he also has a long-term vision for Glen Lea that includes promoting healthier grass and lengthening a few holes on the back nine, and Joye is grateful the ownership team is willing to spend money to improve the course and draw out more golfers.
OPENING DAYS: Virden Wellview Golf Club, Oak Island Golf Resort and Neepawa Golf and Country Club are all expected to open Friday … Poplar Ridge Golf Club is eyeing to open for the season on May 5.
DIVOTS: The Brandon Ladies Golf Club welcomes new members to play Thursday mornings at the Wheat City Golf beginning in May. Anyone interested can contact Dot Burgess at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Marlene Fitzsimmons at email@example.com … The Wheat City’s senior men’s league meeting will take place Wednesday. Registration is at 9 a.m. with the meeting beginning at 9:30 at the golf course. For more information call Doug at 204-724-5430.