Super Super By Kelsey Wentling, Intern
Name: Rick Slattery Golf Course: Locust Hill Country Club Location: Pittsford, NY
ick Slattery started playing golf when he was seven years old, and he hasn’t stopped since.
Seven-year-old Slattery, who didn’t have a club membership, would climb onto the public bus with his clubs, ride up to the municipal golf course and practice almost every day in the summers and on most weekends. That is how he fell in love with golf. Today, Slattery still makes his home on the course, but takes on new challenges and responsibilities as the superintendent of his course. “My office is out on the golf course,” Slattery said. “It’s where I like to be, it’s where I am.” As superintendent, Slattery explained that he must wear many hats. This includes working with and having knowledge of irrigation, hydraulics, disease, turf grass, botany, weather and management to name a few. However, Slattery has gone above and beyond the duties of superintendent, creating a course that glorifies the game and sustains the environment.
As a result, Slattery’s course is running expertly and efficiently. And members have noticed. “They’re ecstatic about it. It’s like beating the drum, but as soon as something’s in place that they can touch and feel, they see the quality of the course and its huge value,” Slattery said. “The buzzword today is ‘sustainability’, so they’re proud to be a golf course living by that.” In order to perpetuate sustainability on the course, Slattery has installed 1,400 sprinkler heads to minimize water loss and increase efficiency. Slattery and his team have also naturalized areas throughout the course, creating habitats for the surrounding wildlife. He has had great success with nest boxes and even created a garden entirely for butterflies. Slattery’s course, Locust Hill Country Club in Pittsford, NY, is now certified as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary, something he considers a great success for the course. However, Slattery said he didn’t get there easily or quickly, and he advises other superintendants not to get caught up in the longevity of such projects.
Rick Slattery at Locust Hill Country Club.
“My model that I live by is: let grass grow,” Slattery said. “I believe nature grows healthier turf than a superintendent.” And he sticks to his beliefs, however unconventional they may be. In his first two years as superintendant, Slattery completely shut off the irrigation system. As the weaker grass withered and died away, the native, stronger grass was allowed to grow and become the primary turf on the course. With improvements such as these, Slattery said he is able to use 10-15 percent of pesticides as normal
golf courses and only three to four million gallons of water, as compared with the 20-30 million gallons an average course uses.
“As far as reduction of resources, water and chemicals- set thresholds. Start with a baseline and set thresholds every year to reduce that every year,” Slattery said. “Take baby steps and you’ll find yourself making progress and be surprised at what you’ve achieved.”