In nearly 30 years in the business, Forest Hills golf course superintendent Darren Davenport thought he'd seen it all.
Then club member Bob Bracy came along.
Last fall, Bracy told Davenport he'd like to volunteer his services to improve the golf course. Did he have anything he could do?
Since Davenport doesn't have a large enough staff to fill in divots on the course on a regular basis, he did need help in that area. Bracy embraced the idea.
He started doing it once a week, filling every divot on every hole.
"This is the first time I've seen this happen," Davenport said.
A few months ago, fellow member Dick Thruwell heard about Bracy's dedication, and decided to join him.
Both are retired (Bracy is 69 and Thruwell 73) and met through the Geezers, a 60-over group that plays a couple times a week at Forest Hills.
Their work has made a difference in the condition of the course, which plays host to the 54-hole Augusta City Amateur beginning today.
"It helps tremendously," said Davenport, who calls the fairways the best they've been since he started at Forest Hills in 1999. "I ride by and thank them every morning I see them. They do a tremendous job. They're like 30-year employees."
Golfers are supposed to fill in their divots. Bottles of sand are attached to all golf carts, but Davenport said "if you get 50 percent of them to use it, that's good. There are a lot of divots out there, with as much play as we have. It really helps the situation to have somebody do that."
Bracy believes more golfers are filling in their divots because they see the work that he and Thru-well are doing. Bracy and Thruwell volunteer on Tuesday mornings, arriving just after 7.
"It's gotten to the point we know they're coming and we have the sand ready for them," Davenport said. "You can set your clock by them."
"The cart guys the night before get a barrel of sand ready for them to take off," said Forest Hills head pro Bill Robinson.
It used to take Bracy until early afternoon to fill in all the divots. With Thruwell's help, they're usually done by noon.
They were even working Thursday in preparation for the city amateur.
"Bob asked if there was anything they could do; they're out there painting yardage marker blocks right now," Davenport said Thursday.
Like Davenport, Robinson has never been at a course where members work for free on a weekly basis.
"It's kind of a neat deal that they come out here to do that; that they care about the golf course so much," Robinson said.
Said Thruwell: "We do it for ourselves and the course."
"They take pride in the golf course," Davenport said. "It's their home to play golf and they want it the best they can make it."
Bracy decided to help out because he admires how hard Davenport and his eight-man staff, which includes assistant Cary Callaway and equipment technician Alfred Lee, work.
"I felt like, 'heck, they're always shorthanded,' " Bracy said.
Bracy and Thruwell don't want recognition for their work.
"Some guys have come up to me and said 'thank you,' " Bracy said. "I don't do it for that. I do it for relaxation and knowing the course would be improved."
Instead of pats on the back, Bracy said he'd rather have some more help on Tuesday mornings.
"More people are seeing how it's helped," he said. 'If we got a few more volunteers, we could really make it look good."
Reach David Westin at (706) 823-3224 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
DEFENDING CHAMP SIGNS UP
Two-time defending Augusta City Amateur champion Jordan Johnstun was a late entry in the tournament, which begins today at Forest Hills Golf Club.
The Evans resident and former Georgia Southern golfer signed up Thursday morning.
Johnstun played in the U.S. Amateur Public Links in Norman, Okla., this week. After two rounds of stroke play, which ended Tuesday, he failed to advance to match play.
Jay Blackburn, who won a record-setting 10th career Regions Cup tournament Sunday at Goshen Plantation Golf Club, is also among the favorites.
There are 123 players in the city amateur, including defending senior division champion Greg Scurlock.