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Fort McMurray Grounds Guru Off To Ryder Cup

Written by Gord Montgomery

Jeff Hacior, The Superintendent At The Fort McMurray Golf Club, Was The Only Canadian Selected To Join The North American Grounds Crew For The 2018 Ryder Cup To Be Held In Paris, France.

 

FORT McMURRAY, Alberta (Inside Golf) — Many apply but few are chosen. As it turns out, Jeff Hacior (@JeffHacior) was one of those chosen few.

Hacior, the superintendent of the Fort McMurray Golf Club,  has been named as one of the North American grass groomers for the 2018 edition of the Ryder Cup. and is the only Canadian involved in the event. In all, there were 374 members of the Golf Course Superintendents’ Association of America eligible for the selection process based on membership status and work experience with 10 chosen.

The honour comes on the heels of the devastating wildfire that destroyed much of his hometown two years ago, including damaging buildings on his golf course. Now though, Hacior gets the chance to work alongside some of the best turf tenders in the world for the popular event.

Hacior said his desire to take part grew after attending the Ryder Cup in 2015 at Hazeltine. There he toured the course and saw for himself how important the maintenance staff is to such an event, where 36 holes a day are played. While there, he got a first-hand look-see at what was being done in preparation for the world’s top players.

“It wasn’t necessarily volunteering (as the reason for going in 2015) but the superintendent did such a great job of letting everyone in on the goings-on of such a big tournament. I thought what a cool way to be involved.”

Even though he hadn’t really considered being a hands-on guy at one of these birdie hunting spectaculars, Hacior said he noticed in a GCSAA newsletter about the opportunity to take part.

“It was an offering of 10 superintendents being selected from the GCSAA and (another 10) the European Golf Superintendents’ Association. They had a questionnaire to fill out so I filled it out, and ended up being one of the lucky chosen.”

Hacior noted there wasn’t any real criteria a wanna-be had to meet to be in the running. Rather, it was a series of five general questions about his home track. “The biggest question they asked was why you wanted to go.”

“The Ryder Cup only happens once every two years, so to be named as part of the team is the opportunity of a lifetime. After all our course has been through since 2016, with the rebuild of our clubhouse and returning the course to the shape it was in before the Horse River wildfire, this is such incredibly good news for me and for the Fort McMurray Golf Club.”

Another big factor in this is “the learning opportunities and the networking,” that will encompass him during his brief, but busy, tenure in France. “It’s a pretty cool stage. You’ll  never find a better place to find all that information in one place.”

As of right now, he doesn’t know what his duties will be at the Ryder Cup. Responsibilities will likely be assigned closer to the actual date and it’s very likely that each grass guru will handle different duties over the course of the event.

“All I know is I have to get to New York on a certain date and from there, I’ll just follow along with what the itinerary calls for.”

Hacior also isn’t sure of how much of the golf he’ll get to see, or what sort of hours he’ll be expected to be on the job. It is likely he’ll get so see some of the action, but again, that’s up in the air until he gets there.

“I have a feeling there will be a few different shifts per day. I know at the Hazeltine one, the guys had to be on the golf course around 3 a.m. get it prepped prior to any player starting. Because it’s 36 holes (a day) I know they prep it two or three times a day. Again before the second round goes out and then again in the evening once the play’s over.”

As for his takeaway, Hacior seems quite happy to take what comes his way, sort of like the invite to head to Paris.

“I just want to take away a great experience. Some knowledge that I can use for the rest of my career, whether it’s in Fort McMurray or wherever. Just the experience in general, just being part of the tournament is an amazing feeling. This is on a higher level than what I’ve experienced in the past.”

About being one of the “chosen few,” Hacior noted, “I’m honoured. I’m shocked at even being selected. After I filled it out, I never once thought that anything would happen so it’s truly amazing. I’m honoured. Excited. It’s once in a lifetime,” which is sort of like winning the lottery but without the big financial payday.

But then again, the pay Hacior receives in knowledge and experience that will be, as they say, priceless.

The 2018 Ryder Cup will be held in Continental Europe for only the second time in its history. Le Golf National in Paris, France will be hosting the biennial match on its spectacular L’Albatros course, from Sept. 25-30.

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