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65-Years of Experience in the Golf Course Industry

Tam-O-Shanter Golf Club in Ontario
Tam-O-Shanter Golf Club in Ontario

Editor’s Note: Many of our readers will relate to Mike Kahn’s story. Despite being an octogenarian Mike is still active in the business side of golf as he and a team of experts offer consultation services.

My first job at a golf course was weeding greens in 1956. My boss back then paid me 50-cents an hour. The golf course, Tam-O-Shanter Golf Club in Agincourt, Ontario, Northeast of Toronto.

I was hired in late 1962 to finish building and then manage a golf center, Liftlock Golfland, which entrepreneur Bert Turcotte created in Peterborough, Ontario – 80-miles East of Toronto. The golf center included an 18-hole par-3 golf course (nine floodlit), a floodlit practice range, a miniature putting course, a pro shop, and a snack bar. We opened for business on Saturday, June 1st, 1963.

In 1967 we expanded the golf course to 27-holes adding several par-4s. These nine-holes were among the first in golf to sew wall-to-wall in bentgrass.

We built the entire 9-hole course with a 1950s John Deere 40 Crawler small bulldozer. We bought the machine, then sold it when we were done with it, so it didn’t cost us a dime to use it.

Lift lock on the Trent River at Peterborough
Lift lock on the Trent River at Peterborough

My office at the golf center was barely 100-yards from the majestic Peterborough LifeLock that raised boats up 60-feet on their journey up the Trent Canal.

In Peterborough, I introduced many new innovations to the golf industry and loved these innovations. The City of Peterborough, Ontario was a North American product test city back in the 60s and 70s. My golf center was also a target for new innovations.

In 1973 I took delivery of the golf industry’s first riding greens mower – the Hahn Triplex riding greens mower. This is a significant machine, in that it is a pioneer in professional golf mowing equipment. With hydrostatic drive and hydraulic lift, it used three electric clutches to engage the cutting heads, and a cable drive to power them. It had belt drive in the cutter units. A most unusual arrangement! The center mower on the Hahn was out front. It was a big seller for clubs who could afford to abandon the then ubiquitous single unit pedestrian machines. It had three independently driven reels – powered (originally) by flexible drive shafts. This riding mower was so revolutionary that golf course superintendents came from Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, and Quebec to Peterborough, Ontario to see it operate.

All the following riding mowers, Toro, Jacobsen, John Deere, had the middle mower behind the outside mowers. Only Hahn had the middle mower upfront.

The Hahn machine was so delicate that decided to put a woman on it – with the idea of better maintaining and caring for the machine. My Hahn triplex greens mower still looked and ran like brand new after several years!

THE RANSOM 5-7 FAIRWAY UNIT
THE RANSOM 5-7 FAIRWAY UNIT

THE HAHN TRIPLEX MOWER WAS AN EASY DECISION.

I financed the triplex mower when I bought it. I easily figured I was ahead money-wise. Here are my calculations:

Before the Hahn riding mower, I was paying two walk-mow operators 8-hours a day, 48-hours a week to mow 27-greens. However, I was only mowing three days a week. The Hahn triplex could mow all 27-greens before noon and be back in the shop cleaned and ready for the next day. Now I was mowing my 27-greens 7-days a week and only 35-hours of labor cost – including its daily maintenance. The savings more than covered my finance cost by $132.52 a month.

The Hahn machine also had attachments for verticutting and spiking. It was also useful for towing the drag-mat after aerating (coring).

NEXT – THE RANSOM 5-7 FAIRWAY UNIT

This Ransom unit was not self-powered and needed to be attached to a tractor. The 136-inch mowing width reels were independently and hydraulically driven. Heights could be quickly set at collar, fairway, or rough heights by adjusting the rollers. The one machine could mow the entire golf course, except the greens. I remember paying $16,200 for that Ransom unit in 1974 – $200.00 more than I paid for my house a year earlier.

MY LOVE OF INNOVATIONS

I introduced the first one-piece golf ball in 1972. Many split in two when struck by a hard swing. I held one of the first graphite shafts. I was among the first to taste Gatorade from Peterborough’s Quaker Oats plant. I introduced the first floating rotary mower great for trimming around ponds and slopes. I was among the first to mow fairways with hydraulically driven reels. I was introduced to cavity back irons clubs. I was among the first to adopt the Scotts Pro Turf virtually fool-proof system of fertilizing and controlling weeds and fungus diseases.

CONSULTING CAREER

I moved to Florida in 1990 where I became involved in financing and brokering golf courses – all around the USA. I also managed golf courses in Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Tampa, Sarasota, and Daytona. I consulted hundreds of courses in the USA and Canada over 30-years. I also evaluated golf courses – not as a licensed appraiser.

Today I work with two experienced associates. Bill McIntosh, is a PGA lifetime member, former golf course owner, and a former management company area supervisor. Cameron White, a former PGA club professional, is now a licensed Florida attorney. Cameron is knowledgeable of golf course legal issues.

The team of McIntosh, Kahn, and White is a 100%, 360-degree golf course and golf business consulting team. We have advised all types of golf course facilities – 9, 18, 27, and 36-holes, Private Country Clubs, Daily Fee, Municipal, Executive, and Par-3 courses. Several we advised were residential development courses that fell into distress. We’ve been to Washington State, Oregon, Mississippi, Florida, the Carolinas, Illinois, California, Texas, Missouri, etc. Feel free to contact me directly for advice and help with your course Mike Kahn, mike@golfmak.com.

Golf Course Trades wants your story. Email golf@thetrades.com to learn more.

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