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Mr. ‘Greens’ changing course

By Staff | Mar 29, 2010

Jim Brooks

After 40 years of dedicated service as the greens superintendent of Riverside Town and Country Club, Jim Brooks is hanging up his hat and changing courses.

“People always recognized Jim on the golf course because of his cap,” explains wife Cheri. “Whenever anyone was looking for him, they would be told to look for the guy wearing the Yankee’s cap.”

Jim, wearing his Yankee cap, will certainly be missed on the 71-acre golf course when he retires on April 1.

It was at a meeting of the Riverside Board in 1970, Jim Brooks, then of Frost, was interviewed for the job as assistant to the caretaker, Alf Ludtke. He subsequently was hired and worked with Ludtke for two years learning everything there was about the job. Ludtke retired and turned the job over to the very capable Brooks in 1973. With the new job responsibilities also came a new title for Brooks. He was named greens superintendent.

In the summer of 1973, Jim’s brother, Harold, was hired as the assistant to the greens superintendent. A job, he too, will retire from on April 1.

The Brooks team worked well together through the years. They always knew what needed to be done – whether it was mowing or fixing machinery. Together, the Brooks brothers have given 77 years of service to the Riverside Town and Country Club.

Brooks says his brother generally mowed the greens, fairways and rough, while he worked with the watering, spraying, fertilizing, as well as doing some mowing.

In case of storms, both men helped with clean-up duties.

Brooks also recalls the years he spent lying on the dirt floor of the old tin shed doing repairs. Although that building still stands, maintenance now is done in a shop which was built in 1990. Here, Brooks maintains the mowers with oil changes, blade sharpening and other minor repairs needing his attention.

“When I first started, I had walk-behind greens mowers,” says Brooks. “In those days, we had a lot of push mowers.”

Currently, Riverside has seven different mowers that are used. They have six-foot and 11-foot deck rotary blade mowers and a 13-foot 7-gang mower. On the fairway and greens, reel-type mowers are used.

During his 40-year tenure as greens superintendent, Brooks has seen many changes. Probably one of the most noticeable involves the addition of golf carts on the greens.

“There were only four golf carts used in the early 1970s when I started,” says Brooks. “Now there are about 100 and we had to add three sheds. One in 1972, another in 1983 or 1984 and the third in 1990.”

Four members, in particular, were known for their use of propelled conveyances back in the early days of Brooks’ career. The group was known by many names including the Four Horsemen, the Black Knights and less complimentary, the Hell’s Angels. Not only did they speed up golfing times, but they also added a lot of color to Riverside.

At this time there was also talk about purchasing more land to add another nine holes to the course. However, after consulting with a golf course architect and considering limiting factors, such as the land lying principally in the flood plain of the river and the cost of building a new club house, the idea was dropped.

However, Brooks did design and build a new No. 4 green and tee box on No. 7 green in 1999 with the help of his brother, Harold, and son-in-law, Jonathan Weerts.

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