Golf is a changing industry. In many aspects.
Rather than complain about turmoil some people choose to prepare for it so they’re ready to deal with it when it comes.
Count Peter Asma about those on the ready.
For a decade the 40 year-old has patrolled the fairways of the Greensmere Golf & Country Club in Carp, Ontario as their Golf Course Superintendent.
It’s meant seeing one of their two 18 hole golf courses come to life and his personal growth into becoming a manager of time, people, resources, and even himself.
Raised in London, Ontario Peter’s interest in golf came from his father. The older Asma worked in the financial industry and had an affinity for the game. In due course that affection was passed on to Peter.
“I played junior golf and my first job at 15 or 16 was working on a golf course. I worked as a starter out at Fanshawe (GC). I ended up working there for about five years as a starter and in the pro shop, Peter shares.
In those early days playing thirty-six holes between sunrise and sunset was not out of the norm for Peter, and it sure didn’t hurt his scores. His career low was a 74 at another London area course, Thames Valley. It would prove to be the peak of skills for Peter who says ‘I haven’t hit it since.” He now carries a about a 14 index but still loves to play. His games often includes his wife, Leslie, who Peter says is the real avid golfer in the family. “If she could be out there every day in the summer she would.”
While he may have been working at the Fanshawe golf course during his teens and as began to study Economics at the University of Western Ontario, for Peter it was no more than that.
The turning point came after his third year at Western when he was looking for a change and found his way on to the grounds crew at another London course, Sunningdale.
“At the time I was still pretty passionate about playing golf, not so much about the turf side. I didn’t now at that time that I was going to get into turf. It was still a summer job.”
During his time at Sunningdale Peter admits he slowly began to take on the work more seriously.. “I worked really long hours there, like 70 hours a week. I liked the work. I cut grass, the greens, tees, rough – I was always looking for extra hours. I certainly saw the fulfillment of a job well done. You could see it right away in the work you were doing.”
After completing his degree at Western life took Peter to Montreal where he ran into a language barrier. Not being bilingual and unable to find work in his field he defaulted to his skills developed during those London summers. He caught on with a golf course, Le Versant in the northern suburb of Terrebonne.
“It was not what I pictured for myself at the time but it worked out.”
“Worked out” is also code for setting a life’s course.
Under Superintendent Scott Hughes, Peter began to see a new side to the turfgrass industry.
“He really inspired that new passion, that passion I still have today. I still love working in the game, working at the course, working outside.”
At the time Le Versant was expanding to 72 holes and while Hughes was getting the new course up and running he allowed Peter to tag along and see a new side to the business. “Even though I came on to work on the turf crew he was more than willing to share his knowledge of construction. From there I could see that I could build a career out of it.”
This prompted Peter to take the Short Course in Turf Management at the University of Guelph – the start of his formal golf education that continues to today. He would go on to do a Diploma in Horticulture through Guelph and is current completing a Graduate Studies Diploma in Golf Operation through the Golf Management Institute of Canada and Wilfrid Laurier University.
With his first formal turf education in hand Peter was hired back as the Assistant at Le Versant where he would work until 2003.
At the time, ClubLink, the largest single owner of Canadian golf courses, was looking for an assistant for a new property that had just acquired in the National Capital Region. “The Dome Golf Club” was about to become “Hautes Plaines” and the Gatineau area course seemed like a good fit for Asma, who was ready for new surroundings.
‘It was an interesting job. ClubLink has just purchased The Dome and they were in the process of giving it a facelift – adding cart paths and building new tees. I came on and worked on a lot of projects there. I really enjoyed that time and working for ClubLink. There were a lot of good people there and they were a good company to work for.”
Peter’s time would be short at Hautes Plaines, just two years. This time he was not the one looking for a new spot to ply his trade, others came looking for him and his skills.
Hervé Mongeon, the long-time Superintendent from the Outaouais Golf Club was consulting on a new project with the ownership at the new Greensmere Golf & Country Club in Carp, Ontario. The club’s first 18 holes (Premiere) had opened two years prior but they had plans for another course (Legacy).
“He ended up on my doorstep and told me they thought I would be a good fit,” Peter relates of how he came to Greensmere.
By 2009 the Legacy course was built and the burgeoning club has continued to provide a satisfying place for Peter to work each day and grow his skills.
He drives the entire 36 holes each morning of the golf season, keeping an eye on what needs to be done next but still experiencing the joys that a golf course can provide. “It’s such a unique property here”, he says of the Greensmere property that covers more than 300 acres. ” Between the trees and the wildlife, just that instant recognition that what you did yesterday, you can see the effect of it today. That part of it is pretty fulfilling.”
As much as his work does give him a sense of accomplishment. Peter is not one to be stagnant in his role. He’d be content to be a Superintendent to the end of his working days but realizes there are a lot of variables out of his control. That’s why he has embarked on his continuing education in Golf Operations, ensuring he understands as many facets of the industry as possible.
At the same time, Peter is not a man absorbed in his work. With wife Leslie he balances his life with pursuits like skiing, travelling (sometimes for golf), and most recently, with the acquisition of a sailboat.
He has done volunteer work with various organizations and currently sits on the committee for the Canadian Golf Superintendents Association whose mandate it to try and recruit new members. The industry has been good to Peter Asma and he wants others to know it can be option for them as well.
‘It’s a great career whether your are just coming out of school or as a second or third career. It requires a lot of dedication throughout the beautiful summer months but trust me, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”