Desperate Turfwives

It takes a different kind of woman to put up with the crazy world of managing turf at a tenth of an inch.

August 9, 2011


Pat Jones


I have a confession to make: I am completely whipped.

When I say “whipped,” I mean the kind of whipped you get when you are head-over-heels in love with a woman and you’ll do anything, say anything and put up with anything because you want to keep her happy and content.

Here’s how bad it is: she is a fan of the seemingly endless series of garbage cable shows about the “Real Housewives.” You got your Real Housewives of Orange County, your Real Housewives of New York, New Jersey, Atlanta, Miami, etc., etc., etc.

They all follow the same format: awful women doing and saying awful things to each other while the cameras roll. They are wealthy, they are dumb as stumps and they are generally the most self-absorbed human beings on the planet.

And because I am whipped, I have watched them and…God help me…I’ve started to actually enjoy them. Yes, I know! It’s horrible.
That’s why, as a Housewives junkie, I stopped in my tracks one day when I was scrolling through Facebook and noticed a new page had been created called: Wives of Turf.

Holy crap!

They’ve organized and are using social media! You guys better watch out!

No, seriously, this awesome idea is the brainchild of Mychal Brown, wife of Bill Brown, the superintendent at Hartefeld National GC near Philly. Bill, as you might know, is one of the profession’s leading Twitterheads and an expert on communicating with members, peers and others on every platform. It’s not surprising his wife has the same mad skillz… and that she’d use them to commiserate with her counterparts across the nation.

Thus far, she has the Facebook page (Wives of Turf) and a Twitter feed (@wivesofturf). Both have a few dozen followers. Hopefully they’ll have more after folks read this.

“I was already a ‘mommy blogger’ writing about kids and diapers and sitters and such, so this was kind of a natural transition to write about the trials and tribulations of being a turf wife,” Mychal told me. “It’s a weird job with weird hours. Everyone else is going on vacation when we’re stuck at home. It’s a unique industry and it’s nice to know that there are other women out there going through the same thing.”

She’s been Tweeting things like: “You know you’re a turf wife when you fall asleep next to a snoring husband and wake up in an empty bed.” Sound familiar?

“There’s definitely a commonality. No matter how long you’ve been married, old or young, kids or not, you have a husband who will bolt from a nice family event because there’s an irrigation break at the course. We’ve all been there, done that and have that t-shirt to prove it. That’s the common thread of being a turf wife.”

I’m no marriage expert, but I’ve always been told that there’s a higher-than-average divorce rate in this business. Mychal suspects the same and says simply that it takes a different kind of woman to put up with the crazy world of managing turf at a tenth of an inch: “It takes a special woman to tolerate the level of commitment it requires. Sometimes the romantic weekend away takes a backseat to work.

“You have to be patient and remember that the summer doesn’t last all year. And we squeeze in time at the course with him during the summer. Our boys are two and five and they love riding around on the Gator. Then we get to enjoy him in the off season. By the time summer rolls around you’re ready to get rid of him and get back to our routine.”

I told Mychal that those memories of riding around with dad in a Cushman are often what leads the children of superintendents to follow in dad’s footsteps. Did that bother her? “I hope they do follow in his footsteps. Turf is something you can be truly passionate about. You see and enjoy it every day. You know what you’re doing is making a difference. I’d be proud if they did. Bill would have them be anything but superintendents!”

I bet deep down he’d be proud, too.

I’ve met hundreds of turfwives over the years and the story is pretty similar in most cases. They adjust their lives around your wacky jobs. They learn the lingo (“I speak turf!”) and they listen patiently as you gripe about pinheaded green chairmen and lazy crew members. They wash your stinkin’ clothes and feed you at odd hours. They live the job with you.

I’ve always said that being a superintendent isn’t a job, it’s a lifestyle. Now, as we conclude another summer, it’s a fitting time for all of us to thank the not-so-desperate housewives of turf who share that lifestyle with you.