John Lamoureux – A Life Shaped By Golf

John Lamoureux (Photo: Scott MacLeod)
John Lamoureux (Photo: Scott MacLeod)
John Lamoureux (Photo: Scott MacLeod)

John Lamoureux lives in Kanata North with his wife Stephanie along with their two children Jack and Camryn. He’s spent two decades in the golf industry and is still enthusiastic when talking about his jobs and his passion for golf course architecture.

What is your current job?

I’m the Eastern Ontario Sales Manager for GT Golf & Turf (John Deere). My area of responsibility is Napanee to Cornwall to Hawkesbury to Deep River.

We provide quotes on new and used machinery and because our sales team are all former superintendents, we are able to provide a consultative approach, offering mowing techniques and help with equipment.  We do a little bit of everything and that’s free of charge. If we’ve put gear in there, or if a guy’s come in and he’s new to the golf course, we’ll help them out with the property.

What was the fascination at a young age going to Seneca College for the Golf Superintendents Program?

My whole family plays golf. That includes my wife, kids, mother, three sisters and brother. I started playing at the Capital Golf Centre as a kid and sometimes my dad would drop me at Poplar Grove and pick me up after his round.  In high school there were girls, the band, and I played hockey and football but not much golf. I got back into it when I was 20. A buddy was working on the course at Emerald Links and I had a job with Loblaw Companies (National Grocers). I could have stayed with the company and followed in my father’s path but I was invited to work at Emerald Links, on the golf course, by my friend, who said he got to play every couple of days. Little did I know, you played less, right, when you’re in the industry. I got on board after being hired by Kevin Patterson. My superintendent was Barry Perry, as Kevin was involved in building Cloverdale Links. About a month into working there, my mom said to me that a friend back home was a super and he had just graduated from Seneca College. He spoke highly about the program, so I applied, got accepted and moved to Toronto to take the golf superintendent’s course. My wife who got a job in Toronto and I served my internship at the National Golf Club of Canada. Staff members got to play a lot of golf after the work day if spots were available.

After finishing school, Mike Van Beek of Seneca put me on to a job with Sid Witteveen at Loch March. After two and a half years in Toronto, I was anxious to get back to the Ottawa area.

What other positions have you held during your career?

Always trying to better my situation, I took the assistant’s position at Kanata when it was offered by Gord Baird. Gord left soon after to work on preplanning at The Marshes Golf Club. I joined him in March of 2000 working out of the towers at the KRP. Golf course architecture soon became my passion. To see Robert Trent Jones Jr. and meet him and Bruce Charlton, who designed Chambers Bay, was an eye-opener. I worked for Gord and Phil Auger as an assistant from March, 2000 to 2008. I then moved over to Hylands as an assistant to Perry Beausoleil. The head superintendent position came available at the Canadian Golf & Country Club and I moved again. In 2011, the Canadian rep for John Deere Golf asked if I knew of anyone that would be interested in the Eastern Ontario Representative position. The rest is history.

Is the greenkeeping Industry understood or misunderstood?

The industry is totally misunderstood. It’s a very difficult job. When it used to be, and I don’t know how far you have to go back, I believe it was the farmer’s mentality – You know the shop was always in the back forty and all they did was cut the grass.

Now you are the lead on a lot of stuff. Look how many have become General Managers. When IPM (Integrated Pest Management)  came in, that really shook the tree and really rattled a lot of guys. Some guys had great record keeping and did calibrate their sprayers and did go through all that stuff already. But they wanted to bring everybody up to speed and have everybody doing it the same and have the templates out there. So when that became law and you had to become an IPM agent, and you had to do your scouting reports, and you had to send your reports in, any types of spray, you had to calibrate your sprayers three times, go through your chemical shed. It became overwhelming for a lot of guys. The job was hard enough, let alone being at your desk for what used to be an hour a day now jumped to 4 hours a day. So then, you have your water-taking permits; your safety issues; equipment then Mother Nature takes over and it’s very overwhelming.

What do you enjoy the most outside of your job?

I still play hockey at the Sensplex. I golf as much as I can. I’m very involved with my son who plays high level lacrosse here in Ottawa. I was his assistant coach last year. My daughter plays hockey and soccer.  We all love sports!

Golf Course Architecture is my passion. I probably own 15 architecture design books written by some of the best in the business.

All that area where Marchwood is was supposed to be business towers. If you saw the master plan for what Kanata North was supposed to look like, you’d be floored. Mr. Matthews came to us one day and asked about the number of available acres on his property. We determined that 27 acres were available and Mr. Matthews asked if there was room for a nine-hole course. Tony Dunn came to me and asked me to come up with something. I literally turned over a place-setting at The Marshes while I was having a beer with Phil after work on a Friday, and drew out nine-holes. I started walking the property and submitted an official drawing. Dr. Colin Raymond-Jones, TM’s right hand man took the design over to Celtic Manor, and came back with the go ahead to build the nine-hole par-3 Marchwood course. Now, Dr. Jones was involved. We traipsed through there for a couple of days!

Over the years, I’ve collected a lot of Master’s memorabilia and now having a finished basement, I’m able to display and admire it.

Where does the passion for golf course architecture come from?

I don’t know. My wife thinks I’m bananas. I can almost tell you everything about every hole on any golf course I’ve ever played. I can describe it to you. My brother is the same with baseball statistics. It’s like we have photographic memories. Visually when I see something or if I’ve played the hole, I can remember it.

Who’s your favourite Golf Course Designer?

It’s tough to pick one for different reasons. I admire Thompson (Stanley), Trent Jones Sr. (Robert) and MacKenzie (Alister) for their bunkering. Many other architects have great designs. Fazio (Tom), Dye (Pete) and Tillinghast (A.W.) to name a few.  Look at David McLay Kidd and Coore/Crenshaw now. They’ve been given great properties. I’m always looking for the WOW factor on the courses I play.

What are the challenges for Green-Keepers in the future?

Pesticides became the first thing that came down hard on them. Right now in the United States, its water and the next thing will be fertilizers. They’re getting better at making their blends and not having it run away and its dispersing quickly now. The technology is better. The fertilizer suppliers are keeping greenkeepers informed. On the equipment side, all diesel motors between 25 and 75 horsepower are all zero or no emissions. Manufacturers had to make a canister to capture the diesel particulates that came out. That was a 10 to 15 percent increase in the cost of machinery. Water, if it’s not being paid for now, will be in the future. Staffing is also going to become an issue in the future.

Do you miss the greenkeeping position with the present job you have?

I miss getting the team charged up at 5:30 in the morning and setting up for tournaments. I don’t miss irrigation. It’s the most painful thing you have to deal with and all the red tape and environmental issues with the IPM and the paperwork. I don’t miss that at all. But I miss when the staff left and I could do a tour and take a look at the greens and how they were rolling.  I used to love fertilizing and changing cups as well.

When I do equipment demonstrations now and I take the equipment off the trailer and start cutting. That’s when it all comes back. I want to keep cutting.

/ Interview by Joe McLean @FlagstickJoe