MEEKER I Long-time Meekerite Scott Bowman will be the new greenskeeper at Meeker Golf Course this summer. On Saturday he spoke of his thoughts and visions for the Meeker course.
Originally born in Brush, Colo., Bowman, 49, arrived in Meeker when he was 2 years old, and he has always called it his home.
“I started playing golf when I was 12 or 13,” Bowman said. “I was always messing around in the backyard with a plastic club, or even a stick, and the lady behind us asked me one day, ‘I have a set of golf clubs; would you like to buy them?’ They were $250, which was a big deal back then. She let me play with them for about a month, and my folks let me buy them.
“I mowed lawns back then, but when I didn’t have any lawns to do, my mom (Viney Bowman) would bring me out here at 6:30 or 7 in the morning and I would walk around playing as much as I could,” he said. “Nine times around was my best ever. I learned the game of golf by making my own mistakes.”
Bowman said that by the time he was graduated from high school, he was getting pretty good. After entering the United States Navy, he was stationed in Idaho for six years and got down to a six handicap.
According to Golf Digest magazine, a six handicap is obtained by only about five percent of all golfers. The average handicap for men is, in fact, about 14 and about 26 for women.
“So, I thought I was going to be a good golfer,” Bowman recalled. “But then I played in the Jackson Hole Invitational, a pro/am tournament.
“One year I was paired with Robert Anthony Gamez and another year with (two time Masters champion) José María Olazábal,” he said. “Playing with those guys made me realize I would never be good enough. They just never hit a bad shot.”
Much of Bowman’s strength as a greenskeeper comes from the fact that he has played more courses away from Meeker than most locals simply because of how many places he has been over the years. He also plays in numerous tournaments on the Western Slope.
“I’ve seen a lot of courses, how they’re set up and arranged, and so I see things that we should do,” he said. He also feels that one of his greatest strengths is his extensive knowledge of grass and how it should be cared for.
As for Bowman’s vision for the course, he said, “I told the board I don’t want to reinvent the wheel. We have a beautiful course; all we have to do is clean up what we have.”
Bowman went on, however, to outline three major projects: Replace the planks on the bridge on hole No. 5; take care of the “swamp land” on the backside of green No. 5; and figure out a way to get rid of “Gilligan’s Island” on hole No. 4. The latter is a patch of tall boggy grass in the middle of the fairway that has swallowed many golf balls over the years.
Also of concern is the snow mold on several greens, but Bowman was optimistic about their recovery.
“Part of my vision is just to water it, mow it and clean out the dead branches in several ditches,” he said. “The proposal we gave the board was to ensure that the course made some money. Our biggest vision is to just keep the doors open.
This course has been operating on the jagged edge throughout its existence,” he said. “There’s been good years and bad years. We just want to get the course solvent.”
Besides watering the course—he prefers to do it at night, which our dry climate allows—Bowman also mentioned the importance of some other critical tasks. One such task is verti-cutting the greens. This procedure cleans, thins and removes thatch and excessive top growth and this allows the grass to breathe and promote root growth since water and nutrients can more easily penetrate.
He is also concerned about the poor condition of the ladies’ tee boxes, an issue he’s committed to work on, along with improving the sand traps.
“I think sand traps should be pretty,” he said.
Bowman is more than happy to receive expert advice and other help from Jim Cook, a former greens keeper for many years and a PGA professional.
More help has come and continues, from many others, including: Debbie Cook, Becky Ridings, Les Sprod, Donnie McPherson, Irvin Griffin and Bowman’s wife of four years, Julie, who is manager of the clubhouse as well as a kindergarten teacher here in Meeker.
In addition to all those, Bowman passionately praised the many club members—too many to list—who volunteer their time to accomplish various little projects on the course.
“While Julie and I run the place, it simply would not work without the dedication of all these other people,” he said.
Bowman also emphasized still another important aspect of the future of their golf course: promotion.
“We need the out-of-town play,” he said.
He then specified that one important way to accomplish this is for Meeker club members to play in local tournaments to encourage other players to come here. To help with this, the board authorized a Tournament Reimbursement Fund, which helps pay for members to play in such events.
While there will no longer be a full menu restaurant in the clubhouse, Bowman said, “We’re going to do a hot dog bar kind of thing—pizza, snacks and we’ll cater for the tournaments.”
Of his life, Bowman said, “I found my niche in the nuclear world for a while (teaching nuclear physics in the Navy), and after I retired I found my niche with grass.”