The grass has begun turning from tan to green.
Kalona Golf Club Superintendent Nick Leach walks on the ninth green and looks out over the fairway.
“We let some members come out and play last weekend,” Leach said on a recent spring-like day.
Soon the course will be filled with golfers, enjoying the lush fairways and the expertly trimmed greens.
Earlier this year, Leach was honored as the nine-hole golf course superintendent of the year in Iowa.
The award came at the annual winter superintendents meeting in January.
Leach’s award follows honors given by the Iowa Golf Association to the course itself as the nine-hole course of the year in 1984 and 2010.
The 1984 award came the year the current course configuration was built under the direction of architect Edward Lockie.
The greens are bent grass; the fairways are blue grass and winter rye. Two ponds pose water hazards on a number of holes.
The fairways on rolling hills are tree lined.
All of it is Leach’s responsibility to maintain.
He attributes the award to “good, hard work and a passion for the job.”
“I really enjoy being outdoors,” he said. “I really enjoy being around golf.”
Keeping the course in pristine condition is a year-round job. During the golf season, Leach has help from a couple of part-time guys.
Together they keep the grass mowed on the course. With six different heights of cuts, that is not an easy job. The finest cut is on the greens, which are cut to an eighth of an inch.
The days can be long because the job is much more than just keeping the grass trimmed.
“I’m here until the day’s work is done,” Leach said.
During the season that means fixing broken irrigation pipes and sprinkler heads.
Throughout the year, there are long-term projects such as removing ash trees, an ongoing project that started seven or eight years ago. Leach is treating 20 trees to save them, but the others are being removed.
At the same time, he is working to installing tiling on one of the ponds to improve drainage. Right now, his focus is on getting the greens ready for the season, a process that takes two or three weeks of applying different fertilizers so the grass will stand up to the short cuts coming for the season ahead.
The multiple projects keep Leach busy, and that’s what he loves.
“Every day, there’s just a new challenge coming up,” he said.