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Q&A: Camelot’s Chris Chapman – Pushing The Envelope To Be Better

Chris Chapman (Photo: Joe McLean, Flagstick.com)

Chris Chapman, originally from Newfoundland, is the course superintendent at the Camelot Golf & Country Club in the east end of the City of Ottawa at Cumberland, Ontario. He has worked at Camelot since 2006 as an assistant and then in 2016 became the head superintendent.

While recently covering an event at Camelot, FGM sat down with Chris Chapman to find out a little more of his story.

FGM – How did you get interested in your job as a golf course worker?

While I was at Osgoode High School, a teacher got me interested in playing golf. While I was playing, I noticed the workers on the golf course and thought that would be a good summer job that now 25 years later has become a pretty rewarding career move.

FGM – Where have you worked during your career?

Right out of high school I worked at Emerald Links and then helped with the grow-in at Raceview. While in school in Toronto, I worked at Maple Downs while living on the course. After graduation I worked for Ron Schell year round at Poplar Grove and with his landscaping company. At age 20, that was my first job as a superintendent. I worked as an assistant at Outaouais and on the construction at White Sands. In 2006, I made the move to Camelot Golf & Country Club.

FGM – What education do you have relating to your superintendent job?

In 2000, I graduated from Senaca College in Toronto after taking their 2-year Turf-Golf Course Technician program and completed various certificate courses thru the University of Guelph.

FGM – What appeals most to you about your job?

I love being outside and the fact that the job is different every day. You can make plans but they can change on the spur of the moment, so you have to be flexible.   My favourite jobs are cutting greens and getting involved with construction.

FGM – What challenges have you and your greenkeeping crew faced working at the Camelot Golf & Country Club?

I’m sure the challenges my crew face at Camelot are similar to those faced at other courses. Storms coming down the Ottawa River regularly wash out our bunkers and the windy upper holes can affect our applications of products and water. Our lower holes face air movement and shade issues due to the towering pines and elevation changes.  A heavy drought year can give us challenges from getting water from the river or dealing with the poor water quality from our creek that feeds the irrigation pond.  Just getting the water is also a challenge as we pump from the Ottawa River thru a 500’ pipe that runs under the 174 into the river. The water is then transferred uphill to the irrigation pond

Over the past few years we have been renovating greens and working on the drainage according to a plan put in place by our course architect Tom McBroom and it’s starting to pay off for us. It’s enjoyable to see these projects that were approved by our Board of Directors through from start to finish.

With COVID19, there has been a lot more play on the golf course and that makes it a little harder to get some of our work done. We do have a lighting system so we are able to schedule work later in the evenings.

FGM – I understand you purchased a drone. How has that assisted you in your job?

It’s a great tool for showing Tom McBroom and the Board of Directors as well as our Members work that has to be done and then show them the before and after images and videos. We have been able to show morning sunlight issues around greens caused by nearby trees.

FGM – Are you staying current with changes in the industry?

Yes. The Club is very good in approving my requests to attend seminars put on by the Ottawa Valley Turfgrass Association as well as Canadian and U.S. Turfgrass Associations. I’m also in contact with other superintendents and we discuss mutual problems we encounter on our golf courses. Recently we have purchased a fairway roller to reduce mowing and cut our chemical applications by more than half. This year the purchase of a gps sprayer will even further improve accuracy of applications.

FGM – Do you have any hobbies away from the golf course?

It used to be baseball but now I ride a Peloton bike every night to keep in shape. I guess it’s not a hobby but my wife Amy and I take our girls Kailyn and Chloe to competitive cheerleading classes five days a week. I met Amy at school in Toronto and we’ve been married for 20 years.

FGM – Do you have any regrets or things you would like to do over in your life?

I have no regrets whatsoever. I’ve enjoyed every aspect of my life.

FGM – What do you see for yourself in the future?

I would eventually like to retire to the East coast. We try to get down to the Maritimes each summer with our children and in alternate years just Amy and myself.

FGM reached out to Greg Richardson, General Manager at the Camelot Golf & Country Club for a few words about Chris Chapman.

Chris’ attention to detail, accountability and pride for his work is evident to all that know him. He’s equally comfortable working out costs for major course renovations as he is jumping into a hole to fix an irrigation leak. Chris has been a catalyst for many innovations at Camelot. He’s been an integral part of club initiatives to produce our own maple syrup, host bee hives generating honey for our members, grow our own vegetables for the club kitchen and plant apple trees so our members can make jelly! He is always pushing the envelope to be better, both as a Superintendent and as part of the management team at the club.

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