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Green, green grass of Kurt’s new home

Carterton Golf Club’s new head greenkeeper Kurt Tautuhi at work on the course. PHOTOS/ELI HILL

GOLF

Eli Hill
[email protected]

Four months of toil by volunteers to keep Carterton Golf Club decently dressed for play ended last week with the appointment of Lower Hutt’s Kurt Tautuhi as head greenkeeper.

Tautuhi, who started work at the club last Wednesday, has worked at the Royal Melbourne Golf Club, one of whose courses is rated among the best in the world.

Tautuhi, 29, entered the industry with an apprenticeship at Lower Hutt’s Shandon Golf Club in Petone aged 17.

“I asked mum if I could leave school and go do an apprenticeship and she said no.

“So I went to the golf club and said, ‘Yeah, I want to start’, so my boss had to talk my mum into letting me out of school,” Tautuhi said.

After completing his apprenticeship in four years, Tautuhi continued working at the club for another 2½ years before applying for a job at Royal Melbourne in Australia.

“I knew that if I wanted to be the best possible greenkeeper I could be, I had to go over to Australia, and the Royal Melbourne is number one outside of America.”

Kurt Tautuhi

In 2013, he found himself working as a greenkeeper at the first World Cup held outside of the United States, as well as the Australian Masters on succeeding weeks.

“I was among a couple of the boys in charge of cutting fairways, starting each morning with a 4.15am meeting, then a 4.30am start.

“It was a big learning curve. Over there, everything’s different. You’ll walk out on the greens and it’s like carpet.”

After 3½ years at Royal Melbourne, Tautuhi got a job as assistant groundskeeper at Sanctuary Lakes Golf Course on the eastern side of Melbourne.

In his three years at the course, Tautuhi learned about the management side of greenkeeping, before he decided to return home.

“I learned as much as I thought I could learn and decided to move home in August last year for family reasons.

“I applied for a job all around the place, a couple of dad’s friends had played at the Carterton club and they said I should be trying out for head greenkeeper . . . and now I’ve got the job.”

Tautuhi was full of praise for the volunteers who’d cared for the par-71, 5612-metre course in the four months since the previous head greenkeeper left.

“They’ve done an excellent job for people with no formal qualifications. I’m really impressed with how short the grass is.”

However, there’s more to grass than just mowing, and for now Tautuhi’s focus will be on manicuring the greens back in good health.

“There’s plenty of diseases out there that’ll affect the grass, so that’s what I’ll try to sort out first.

“My approach is to do it from the greens up, because when people come away from the golf course they don’t say, ‘Oh the hedges were nice’ — they’ll always talk about the condition of the greens.”

While Tautuhi is commuting from Petone, the club is preparing its cottage for him.

“I really like the people here. Everyone I’ve talked to has just been really nice and welcoming. The place has a really good atmosphere.”

Carterton Golf Club president Tony Reast said there had been three “very good’ candidates for the job.

“What it boiled down to the end of the day, is that Kurt’s very young. We’re looking at longevity and keeping someone here for a good period of time.

“There was also his enthusiasm, and he had excellent references. We’re really enthusiastic about having him here, he’ll be a real asset to the club.”

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