High-maintenance work

While golfers were sweating over trying to save pars at Point Mallard on a sizzling Friday morning, the man mostly responsible for the course’s difficulty sat over a plate of hash browns.

Sipping a cup of fresh coffee, Doug Floyd had already finished his work before those who braved the heat had even made the turn.

As a member of Point Mallard’s maintenance crew, Floyd’s daily chores include relocating tee boxes and pin placements. Like an artist with a paintbrush, he meticulously tucks away pins in challenging spots just after sunrise each morning.

“I try to make it fair but challenging, and sometimes they aren’t too happy with it,” Floyd said with a grin. “I like to tell them I make them a better putter.”

Floyd is one of the valued crew members who arrive at work early and leave late to keep Point Mallard one of North Alabama’s top golfing destinations.

Point Mallard, which is operated by Decatur Parks and Recreation, employs an average of 15 workers during the summer months. They’re usually clocked in by 6 a.m., unless tournament play requires them to be at work by 5.

Minutes later, they’re mowing greens and fairways, raking traps and restocking ball washers with fluid so golfers can fully enjoy their Point Mallard experience. Other strenuous tasks performed by the maintenance crew include weed trimming, course construction and irrigation repair.

“A lot of people think it’s just like taking care of your yard, but it’s a lot higher maintenance than that,” said David Yarbor, who is beginning his fourth year as the course superintendent.

“These guys care about the golf course and about how it looks. A lot of times, this job can be monotonous because you’re doing the same thing day in and day out. Three days you cut tees, then cut fairway for three days. You try to be courteous to the golfers, but, at the same time, you try to get work done. At times, that is very challenging.”

Taking pride in course management begins with respecting the sport.

“I know what I expect as a golfer, and a lot of my friends are out here playing. I know what they expect to get out of the golf course,” Floyd said. “If they relate problems to me, then I go back and talk to David about how we can fix things.”

The work is hot and demanding, but it’s also rewarding, especially for Matt Parker, a 25-year-old Decatur High graduate.

“This isn’t a job for people who don’t like to be outside,” said Parker, who wore a wide-brimmed hat Friday to escape the sun.

“There are days when I’m ready to go home because it’s too hot. Yeah, it’s grueling work, but you get to be outside and get to enjoy the outdoors. I get paid to play in the dirt, basically.

“We’ll be in the clubhouse and hear people brag about the course. That’s kudos to our superintendent for sure, but hearing them compliment you and respect the fact that you’re out here giving them the best possible playing conditions is pretty special.”

Most of the compliments Point Mallard earn are directed toward the superintendent, but Yarbor’s quick to acknowledge his hard-working crew.

“A lot of people think just because you cut grass that anybody can do it,” he said. “For the most part, anybody can. They just have to want to do it. A lot of times, people don’t see the details or the smoothness of the grass. My theme is to strive for excellence. We’ve came in and have made improvements, but have further to go.”

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