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Keeping the course running on an even par

By Staff | Jun 1, 2010

After 40 years on duty at Riverside Town and Country Club, Jim Brooks (top right) has turned his keys over to his successor, Jake Goodnature The new general manager, grounds superintendent began work in March.

After last years bitter winter, July-like temperatures are bringing golf-starved enthusiasts back to Riverside Town and Country Club by the carload.

Not only are these golfers met with the sight of lush greens and flowering shrubs, but also with two fresh faces in the clubhouse…Jake Goodnature and Cindy Sorgenfrie.

On March 15, 2010, Jake Goodnature, a native of rural Albert Lea, was hired as the new general manager/superintendent of Riverside. He succeeds Jim Brooks, who retired this spring after a 40-year stint at the golf course.

Sorgenfrie began her job duties as the clubhouse supervisor just 10 days later.

The dynamic duo has already made for some happy golfers as well as attendees at a Ladies Opening dinner, a Cinco de Mayo celebration, Mother’s Day brunch and a wedding reception.

Jake Goodnature and Cindy Sorgenfrie

The social activities have seemingly already reignited a spark in the members.

“I have been connected to the people of Riverside for many years,” says Sorgenfrie. “It was great to see their excitement and to hear them say ‘it’s just like old times’ about the Cinco de Mayo event.”

A real people person, Sorgenfrie, with her North Carolina accent and hearty laugh, is a good fit as the clubhouse supervisor. Her duties include ordering for concession, as well as the bar and kitchen, paying the bills, scheduling and hosting events and organizing tournaments.

“I stay in contact with the members of the club via email and newsletters and also register new members,” adds Sorgenfrie. She also does the Ladies Lunches on Wednesdays, answers the phone, prepares payroll for the 12 employees and handles all correspondence with vendors.

She deals with the balancing act well and brings a lot of experience to the job.

“I worked as a waitress at Double Play for almost three years and before that I ran a shipping company out of North Carolina. I also helped manage my father’s private business for many years,” she explains.

Although she has lived in the area for 15 years, she and her husband did not move here permanently until 2001. Prior to that, they had a home in both North Carolina and Minnesota.

Sorgenfrie is already planning to expand the menu for Riverside members and to hold more events during the season.

Both Goodnature and Sorgenfrie are fired-up and ready to meet the challenges facing Riverside during these tough economic times.

Goodnature’s responsibilities, as general manager/superintendent, include overseeing the entire course by caring for the grounds and the greens seven days a week during the six to seven month golfing season.

Usually at the course by 5:30 a.m., it isn’t long after this Goodnature can be found mowing the greens every single day. Five to six times a week he cuts the cups and generally every Monday, Wednesday and Friday he is mowing the fairways and the tees with his younger brother, Nate.

Even though mowing is a constant, he says every day is different with various tasks needing his attention on the 80-acre plus site.

Currently, he has been tweeking the new irrigation system which was installed last fall. He also has been working on the bathroom lines out on the course and doing equipment maintenance.

“I haven’t had any serious issues yet,” he says, “but we do have a lot of old equipment.”

Loving the game of golf, he knows first-hand what a golfer likes about a course and is more than qualified, as a result of his education and experience, to meet any challenges which might be awaiting him.

Since he was 19 he has worked at a golf course. First, he worked at Albert Lea’s. Then, while a student at Rochester Community and Technical College, he did a student internship at the Wilds Golf Club in Prior Lake. After earning a two year degree in horticulture and turf grass management, he returned as the second assistant at Wilds and remained there for a year

His next career move was to the Crystal Lake Golf Club at Lakeville where he remained four years before coming to the Riverside Golf Club to assume the management position.

“I was the assistant superintendent or second in charge at Lakeville,” says Goodnature. “I supervised the crews, did irrigation repair and maintenance, in addition to the chemical and fertilizer application there.”

Applying for, then accepting the position at Riverside was a “no-brainer” for Goodnature.

“I grew up hunting in this area,” says Goodnature. “I would often drive by Riverside never dreaming one day I would work here.”

Goodnature says one doesn’t realize what all goes into maintaining a golf course until you do it. Most people think it just involves mowing the grass.

In addition to having a degree to work at Riverside, Goodnature also has to periodically renew his pesticide application license as part of the grounds superintendent position requirements.

“The best part of the job is getting up with the sun and hearing the birds,” says Goodnature.“I love being outside. I couldn’t stand being behind a desk. This job is always different and there is always something going on. It’s a nice challenge.”

The two new faces at Riverside, Goodnature and Sorgenfrie, are like a coat of fresh paint. They have livened things up at the club considerably.

To read more of this story, see this week’s Register.