There was a bright flash and a tremendous noise, followed by smoke oozing out of things.

Nope, it was not a lightning in the distance. This was up close and personal. I was in the underground concrete vault where the waterfall power distribution panels are with barely any room to jump back, up or sideways. There was nothing much left to do at that point except shut off all the breakers and leave the hole in the ground by ladder trying to stay ahead of the smoke cloud that was slowly filling the space.

What had happened took a while to piece together. Eventually, we discovered we had lost two of the three phases and the third phase was suddenly very high voltage. We will never know exactly what the chain of events was leading up to this adventure, but on their side the power company replaced the three transformers on the pole that provided the power to the deep-well pump house and, in turn, the water fall pit. On our side, the waterfall motor disconnect switch for the waterfall blew apart and needed to be replaced along with several fuses. It was also discovered that the deep-well pump for the irrigation system got fried.

The well people needed us to remove the part of the well house roof that allows their crane to pull the deep-well pump out of the aquifer. It is this deep-well pump that fills the pond near the clubhouse. While it looks like a pond, cattails, ducks, and fish, and all, its true function is to be the irrigation systems reservoir. Without the deep-well pump running, the irrigation system cannot run. The whole course is only two-and-a-half days away from drying up and dying without the irrigation system. Luckily, heavy rain has given the repair crews a little breathing space. Everything should be back to normal by midday tomorrow.

As a bit of relief from the adrenaline rush, the flying saucer blueprint framed on the wall in the maintenance shop is a good reminder that there are other maintenance shops that work on things that are not mowers or turf equipment. The day-to-day operation there is probably not much different than in my shop, there are shop supplies to order, parts to order, maintenance actions to schedule, “emergency” repairs (every repair is an emergency), urgent matters, less urgent matters, paper towel dispensers to be refilled, you know, the regular stuff it takes to keep a shop running – no matter what the shape or color of the vehicles are in the motor pool.


So, what will I be working on tomorrow? I have a very long list of “important” things that need to be done but as time has proven, I need to select the six most “critical” things and hope I can get three of them done between the “must do immediately” things that will pop up during the day.

Here is what I have planned:

  • Check the cut and set of the greens mower;
  • Sharpen the blades on the rough mower;
  • Paint patio furniture one table at a time.

Things not on the list but becoming urgent because of how long they have been waiting to be done: clean the floor, speed up the superintendent’s utility vehicle, repaint the parking lines and space numbers in cold storage, erase the days “to-do list” from several weeks ago, take the asparagus out of the refrigerator, you know, the regular day to day stuff.

Wait a minute, the beverage cart just stopped in to get some gasoline. It has a broken windshield bracket and the engine is out of oil. Let me get some oil for it before the engine melts down.

Paul F. Grayson is the Equipment Manager for the Crown Golf Club in Traverse City, Mich., a position he’s held for the past decade. Previously, he spent 8½ years as the equipment manager at Grand Traverse Resort & Spa. Prior to that, he worked as a licensed ships engine officer sailing the Great Lakes and the oceans of the world.