12 Sep 2023 | Clubs & Facilities | Women and girls | Industry news |
#ThankASuper Day: Geraldine O'Callaghan at Sandy Links
by Jimmy Emanuel
Geraldine O’Callaghan starts her day at Sandy Golf Links on the Melbourne Sandbelt before most of us are even awake.
The Superintendent at the public course across the road from Royal Melbourne Golf Club and home of the Australian Golf Centre is running meetings with her team from 6am before getting on the tools to maintain the popular, reimagined Sandringham Golf Course.
“A general day can be irrigation, drainage, could be trimming the bunkers, changing the holes, or even repairs to anything else on the course we need to chainsaw work,” O’Callaghan said.
One of a handful of women filling the role of Golf Course Superintendent in Australia, the hard work she knows happens every day on courses around the country, and her own experience as a passionate golfer, makes O’Callaghan a big believer in Thank A Super Day, now a worldwide initiative celebrated on September 12.
“I think it is a great initiative. We also say that we are the unsung heroes because everyone comes to the golf course to play golf,” she said.
“We are out there early mornings and sometimes, in the summer, it is late at night.
“It is a great way to say thank you. At Sandy we have regulars, not members being a public course, they will come up and say ‘Thank, you are doing a great job’, so to hear that and the feedback from the people who are enjoying our golf course it certainly goes a long way.”
Being Thank A Super Day, it would be remiss of O’Callaghan to not thank a few who have helped shape her impressive rise in the industry, included among them the man in charge of next door neighbour Royal Melbourne.
The ‘big brother’ across the road is part of the Sandy Golf Links maintenance operation, including sending staff on two-week stints over to “The Northside”.
“Obviously, one of my biggest mentors is Richard Forsyth, who is here at Royal Melbourne, but I’ve had some great Supers along my time,” O’Callaghan said.
“Craig Anthony, who’s now at Spring Valley and doing a great job there, Jon Mann, he’s also on the Sandbelt at Metropolitan Golf Club. I’ve had a lot of people influence my career.
“So thank you to all the guys that do such a great job on the golf courses and encourage the new generation of golfers and greenkeepers.”
As for the unique job of looking after Sandy Golf Links, including its Himalayas putting green that takes two-and-a-half-hours to mow, O’Callaghan has loved seeing the facility evolve and grow.
“It's been fantastic, she said. “It is really good because all the philosophy is the same as Royal Melbourne.
“It is a lot of fun, there are always the hard days and stuff like that, but when people do say ‘It’s a mini Royal Melbourne’, that’s such a feather in our cap.
“It now has the Australian Golf Centre, and there is so much happening with the driving range and all the High Performance facilities, it just really is fantastic.”
Like all the Superintendents around the country, O’Callaghan will enjoy all that comes with Thank A Super Day and has some simple advice for how golfers can continue in the same spirit during their regular golf.
“For us it all really ultimately comes down to respect the golf course,” she said.
“Fill your divots, don’t walk your buggy across the green if that’s what happens at your golf course, or rake the bunker … try and leave things better than you find it.”
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