There are many moving parts in any given golf course operation. Most employees are cross trained to do almost anything on the course on any given day. Many staff members are performing multiple tasks at different places on the property, all working together to accomplish the goal of perfect playing conditions. It's a beautiful thing when it's working properly. There are also some great staff members that you rarely see on the course yet they are — to a great extent — the glue that holds the entire department together. They are the administrative assistants. Any operation that has someone in that position knows their value.
A perfect example of one of these key employees is Vicky Menendez at Birmingham Country Club. This is the first club I visited in my new role as Southeast Regional Field Staff many years ago while they were hosting a USGA championship tournament. There were plenty of people moving all around the agronomy building, lots of cart traffic and people new to the course. Far more activity than you would normally see at this 36-hole facility. But once you stepped inside the office, things calmed down. The first person you see is Vicky with her broad smile wishing you a "good morning." Suddenly, things don't seem as hectic. The first thing she wants to know is how she can help you. Are you looking for someone, do you need a cart, would you like some breakfast? You are the most important person on earth at that moment. She has remained that very same warm and welcoming person every time I visit the club. In fact, I usually stop in and see her first when I visit.
On my most recent visit to the club, I was told that Vicky was leaving to spend time with her soon-to-arrive grandchildren. After 25 years of guiding the department with her big smile and warm personality, she was going to retire. I had a chance to talk with many of the staff that day about her impact on the day-to-day operation and what I heard was nothing but glowing praise for her. She helped everyone on the staff in every way, not only taking care of the administrative duties of the department but also looking after the personal well being of everyone. She helped every aspect of the operation work more effectively. These were not co-workers and staff, this was her family and she always looked out for them no matter what they needed.
I know on my next visit things may look the same at the club, but it will be different without Vicky in the office. She leaves big shoes to fill and I'm sure things will be smooth going forward. I certainly wish her the best on the next phase of her life and I'm thankful that I got to know her through the years. I'm sure there are plenty of other examples of staff similar to Vicky at other clubs throughout the world but I can't imagine anyone more friendly and welcoming than she has been. She was truly the heart of the operation!