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The Drill: Wethor keeps local golf course looking its best

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WORTHINGTON -- Bob Wethor, grounds superintendent at GreatLIFE Worthington golf course, says you can’t learn much about course management just from watching “Caddyshack.”

Managing a golf course requires a whole lot of knowledge and a whole lot of physical work, especially if you’re the person in charge of the Worthington 18-holer, widely considered one of the gems in southwest Minnesota.

Wethor grew up in Luverne and began his interest in golf as a boy. At age 14, he was a night waterer -- “back in the days when we didn’t have automatic irrigation,” he recalled.

In his 15th season in charge of keeping Worthington’s course inviting, Wethor oversees greens, turf, trees, fairways, ponds, etc. He’s also a mechanic, ensuring that the equipment he and his crew uses are in working order.

He has more than paid his dues. Indeed, after Worthington was hit by a major ice storm in early April of 2013, the golf course was devastated. Trees were stripped, and large limbs snapped while burdened with heavy ice. Thousands of city and rural residents were without power.

Damage to the golf course took months to solve, and even now -- as the trees have mostly recovered -- some of them hide dead branches shielded by lush green leaves.

But to look at the course today, you’d say it has returned to its glory. In early September, Worthington will play host to its annual Labor Day Classic, which brings in some of the best amateur golfers from several states. They’ll gush about the conditions of the course, like they always do.

The Globe spoke with Bob Wethor about his professional duties for The Drill. You can see the video online at www.dglobe.com. Here’s a sampling of the interview:

QUESTION: How difficult was it to deal with the 2013 ice storm?

ANSWER: “Obviously, everybody in Worthington knows how bad that ice storm was. … It was a lot of painstaking effort (to clean it up). We had a ton of volunteers help us out, to get this thing opened up. I don’t think we were open the full 18 holes till the end of May or early June.”

QUESTION: What’s all involved in keeping the fairways and greens so outstanding at the Worthington course? It’s not just a matter of mowing the grass, is it.

ANSWER: “Taking care of greens and fairways is mainly a lot of scouting. We’re looking for problems, diseases, issues. Obviously, to treat every disease or issue is very costly, so we try to take care of the ones we can afford to deal with. Greens, you watch those every day. You babysit those.”

QUESTION: Tell us something Caddyshack fans don’t know.

ANSWER: “The biggest thing of anything on the golf course is water management. Too much water is never a good thing. So you’re trying to be on that line of the right amount of water to get the surface you want without losing turf.”

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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