Desert Mountain has always been on the cutting edge of research and development in the golf course maintenance industry. And, this one occasion was no different. A new product was designed to retard the growth of the taller rye grass so the shorter Bermuda grass could get more sun needed for growth and transition into the hotter summer months. But, the agronomist was cautious, as usual, and asked that we apply the chemical in two applications at ½ rates every other week, so we didn’t burn any turf.
Newly licensed to spray chemicals and low man on the seniority of licensed applicators, I got the job. I was actually excited about the opportunity to participate in this experiment until I learned we had to walk each course with a narrow four-foot spray boom. We were to spray 100% of the grass without fail, which included rough, fairway, green mounds and bunker faces, leaving no gaps or streaks. It’s easy to demand perfection but hard to achieve it.
I met a Mexican named Andres who was to handle the hose so I could follow the edges of our previously sprayed areas without jerking, pulling or tugging. We soon became friends as we walked together for 8 hours each day.
It didn’t take long for us to get bored. Walk behind the sprayer. Pull the hose. Walk behind the sprayer. Pull the hose. To break up the boredom I began singing silly songs like — “Prograss, Prograss, if you will, all the rye grass you can kill.” And “Hup-two-three-four, we don’t want to spray no more.” I had to teach Andres how to say the English words so he could sing along. It wasn’t easy. Although he knew a little English, he learned one word at a time, then a phrase. Soon he could say all the words and we put on a great performance, if only for ourselves.
One day a foreman stopped to watch us and heard our singing. The very next day we weren’t spraying any more. Andres was riding a fairway mower and I was mowing greens. Two days later we were sent back out spraying. It was a strange turn of events, but we quickly figured out the bosses thought we were being affected by the chemical we were spraying. So, with that knowledge we began to create our own breaks by singing when we were tired and wanted a couple of days off from walking and spraying.
As we were finishing up the Geronimo course we had to spray the bunker faces. This one had a 20 foot slope into a bunker beside the ninth green. Andres and I had just finished spraying when the bunker raking crew arrived. While they laughed and chatted with Andres, I turned to walk back to our sprayer and stepped in the wet grass. My feet flew out from under me and I slid on my butt down the slope into the bunker.
Laughter rang out, with Andres leading the throng. He was calling me a silly gringo among other things when suddenly his feet flew out from under him. He was on his butt heading down the bunker face ending up in the sand beside me. Now both of us were the joke. Andres looked at me and smiled saying, “So sorry, amigo. We still friends?”
When the month was over and we had finished spraying both courses twice, our pedometer registered 118 miles to spray the Cochise course, and another 111 miles to spray the Geronimo course. An unexpected benefit how pleased my wife when she learned I lost 35 pounds in the process.