KPU Turf Campus News - “It’s Not Just a Game to Me”

by Turf student Kaleb Fisher

It's funny how some people still consider that golf is not a sport - to me they are right.  Golf has never been a sport to me, it's been my way of life. 

I began working in the golf industry as a back-shop kid when I was 13 years old, picking up range balls, cleaning carts and clubs.  I remember riding my bike up the mountain to work for 6:00am and staying there till dark all summer long.  It was that summer that would change the direction my life would take.

I slowly got better over the next few years and decided to dedicate my life to the game, graduating high school early to turn professional after having a very successful summer as an amateur.  As you expect, life takes some crazy turns and I decided to go play collegiate golf at the University of the Fraser Valley spending 3 years there, off and on, before deciding that wasn’t where I needed to be.  Soon after, I turned professional and started playing on the local mini-tour, the Vancouver Golf Tour.Kaleb Fisher at Vancouver Golf Tour event

Golf has given me a lot in my lifetime, many friends, jobs, and unforgettable experiences. I can remember one morning in Phoenix with a bunch of friends.  We were preparing for the upcoming season and after a 5:15am wakeup, we sat on the first tee waiting for the sun to rise. When it did it was incredible.  In that moment it was like the earth stood still, the humming of the green's mowers all around us, the birds chirping, and the sun rising over the mountains in the distance.  It was a moment of total peace and I knew that I needed to figure out a way to experience this sensation for the rest of my life.

During this time, two very good friends of mine took over the rights to operate a local executive golf course and asked if I wanted to come along and see what we could do with the place.  It was here that my passion would shift from playing the game to maintaining the turf.  

Once everything got up and running, I started dabbling into rolling, cutting greens and changing pins.  That summer, I worked half my shifts inside and half my shifts outside on the grounds.  It was a battle trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life as playing professionally was becoming harder and harder.  My boss asked if I’d ever thought of going to turf school and to be honest, the thought hadn’t crossed my mind!

I finished that summer and started to evaluate what the next year would look like, was I heading to trades school just to have something or should I give this turf thing I real chance?  I knew one thing was certain, golf was my everything but the more I thought about it, it wasn’t just golf that I was enjoying, it was these beautiful properties that we were able to play the game on.

I worked my next full season as lead hand on the grounds crew and fell more and more in love with everything the turf side of the industry was about.  Between fixing machines to cutting new cups at 5am, I was all in.  This fall, I started attending the turf program at KPU (Kwantlen Polytechnic University) and quickly I realized this was exactly where I was supposed to be. 

In the first semester, I was able to get involved with the KPU Turf Club and have been asked to be President.  We are currently running a Golf Pass Contest to raise funds for turf research, soon have volunteer work at the WCTA Turf Conference coming up in February and will then plan for the Pat Dooley Memorial Golf Tournament.  I have never been so excited to be part of a team of young people who have the same desires in life.  As much as we are all individuals trying to make it in the adult world, we are a team figuring it all out together. 

Kaleb Fisher in a KPU "Turfgrass Operations" lab

To me, the people on the grounds crew are the most important part of any golf course.  They are the ones who set the course up each day for people to play.  For most golfers, the most important experience they will have on the golf course will be their first overall impression of a facility.  There's nothing better than pulling into the golf course driveway and seeing the perfection of the different cuts of grass, perfectly manicured bunkers and a back left flag tucked behind that deep bunker to get the juices flowing on a summer Saturday morning.

I plan to complete the turf program in the next few years then find an Assistant position at a golf course like what I grew up with and eventfully become a Superintendent.  I will always be a pro golfer as it has allowed me to meet some incredible people and go to some cool places and I now hope to transition into becoming a turf professional and meeting some new people and going to new places.

Golf is not just a game to me, it’s a lifestyle I choose to live, and I wouldn’t change it for anything.