Quality assurance

EDITOR'S NOTE: Grime Pays is a semimonthly series focusing on area workers whose jobs are hot, strenuous or just plain dirty. If you think your job is tough enough to profile, call Rainier Ehrhardt at (706) 828-3853.


"Work on the quality, and the quantity will come."

Alfred Lee's motto has never steered him wrong.

The 62-year-old equipment technician at Forest Hills Golf Club has always had a strict maintenance regime.

He checks the slack in the chain on large leaf blowers so often he calls it "changing the oil."

One 10-year-old trap rake machine has lasted 5,462 hours; a feat Mr. Lee says even the manufacturer found surprising.

He treats his equipment like it's his own and has a special relationship with the machines.

"The machine talks to me about the operator," he said after figuring out one worker turned right more often than left.

He has even jerry-rigged a few machines.

"You find things that you have to do to prolong the life of it," he said.

But as much as he tries to take care of his equipment, some do break down or kick the bucket.

"I get a feeling, and I know it's time to let it out the door," he said. "A lot in life with this stuff is just good common sense."

Mr. Lee's hands usually stay dirty with oil and grease.

"If I take a three- or four-day vacation, my hands get clean," he said. "I use Gojo, and sometimes I have to use steel wool, because it gets embedded in my skin."

Mr. Lee has been in the business for more than 40 years, 23 of them at Forest Hills, which he believes makes him the oldest greenskeeper in Augusta. Although he had hip-replacement surgery in 2003, Mr. Lee keeps working and doesn't see retiring in his future just yet.

"The only time I sit down a little bit is to rest my back, but something will come about and get me busy again. I'm not going to be a front-porch kind of guy watching people go by, that's for sure."