Keeping The Wheels Turning
Imagine, just for a minute, that your day-to-day job is the supervision of maintenance and construction at not one, but three golf clubs! That’s a full time job in itself. Add in the translating of a golf course architect’s layouts into the carving, shaping and contouring of golf holes. And then there’s the ownership of a construction company specializing in building septic systems and house foundations. Sounds like more than enough for one-person right? Well, welcome to the world of 40 year-old Kevin Patterson.
Most days Kevin can be found communicating with his superintendents at Emerald Links, Cloverdale Links and Anderson Links golf courses, golf courses in the National Capital Region that are all part of the Patterson Family’s operations. He also owns K.G. Patterson Construction and works closely with renowned golf course architect Graham Cooke as they develop the Patterson golf properties. He serves as a board member for the Ottawa Valley Turfgrass Association.
When we caught up with Kevin at Anderson links, the newest course in their group, as expected he was a busy man. On that day he was hands-on with the equipment operators constructing the new nine holes, checking out the progress of the new putting green, and consulting with his course superintendent Jim Sheridan on the drainage and watering system for the new nursery. It makes you breathless just watching.
Growing up in Osgoode Township in his formative years, Kevin got his start working on the family farm and bringing in hay for other farmers during the harvest season. He learned at an early age all about machinery on his parent’s farm. After graduation he attended Algonquin College, taking construction-engineering courses; worked at the Ottawa Hunt & Golf Club under Butch Middleton, learning about course maintenance by working the course as a labourer and went off to Guelph University, where he took turf management courses. He has also worked in construction as a surveyor and house framer and handled the cash and picked up range balls at his family’s driving ranges.
This background was to serve Kevin well as he built roads, cut trees, dug ponds and carved the land that was to become home for the Emerald Links golf course and sub-division along Regional Road 8 during the mid 1980’s. Emerald Links opened in 1990, has been expanded to 27 holes and is still a popular destination for area golfers.
Around this time, Kevin and his father Gib purchased adjoining farms along Highway 31 near Winchester and what was to become Cloverdale Links was constructed during “our spare time,” while construction at Emerald Links continued. “There came a point that we decided to get on with it and finish the new course,” says Kevin. As has become a tradition with the Patterson Family, Cloverdale Links opened their first nine on July 1st, 1996 and the second nine on July 1st, 1998.
Anderson Links on Anderson Road officially opened on July 1st of this year and construction is continuing on the third nine of the eventual 36-hole course.
Kevin’s function is to supervise his superintendents at each of the courses and his crew of half a dozen course construction workers. Not being one to micro-manage, he only steps in when required or asked. When asked about day-to-day problems, Kevin was quick to answer. “I have a daily routine but my schedule isn’t always planned. I tend to go with the flow and I look at daily issues including staffing, turf maintenance and the ever-present dress code at our courses as challenges and make decisions based on the information available to me at the time.” Occasionally he will have to step in and help out if a staff member is away, but that doesn’t happen too often. Kevin has surrounded himself with good people and tends to let them do their jobs.
The buck ultimately has to stop somewhere and no bill is paid unless Kevin signs off on the receipts relating to golf course maintenance and construction. Each Tuesday morning, the Patterson Team meets to talk about their individual areas of expertise relating to their specific golf club operations and according to Kevin, “Dad is still the key player involved in all aspects of operations and this is on top of the volunteer work that he performs.”
Work aside; Kevin only plays golf about five times a year. He does take the time to get away whenever possible with family and friends. Both of his children, Emily and Jake, are involved in the golf course business in back shops and pro-shop counters. His passion at this time is to get away and tour on his 1584 cc, Harley Davidson Road King Classic. Kevin gives credit to his wife Sharon, who introduced him to the world of biking on the back of her soft-tail Harley when they were dating. “We don’t get away as often as we would like, but when we do it’s great to be on the open road and view the countryside from a different perspective.”
As for the future, Kevin enjoys work and plans to keep growing the family golf business as well as his own construction company. And travel…well that is always in the plans. After all, it’s a rare day when Kevin Patterson is not on the move.