After Adam Curry found himself out of work following two desk jobs, he landed an unlikely fit on the green.
The 31-year-old is convinced he has the perfect, though unexpected, job. With a background in electronics, the man who’s only golfed a handful of times never imagined he’d be the superintendent of Juniper Hill Golf Course and a resident manager at Leslie Morris Park on top of Fort Hill.
“I can’t think of one thing in this world I would rather be doing than what I’m exactly doing right now – I enjoy being able to work outside and the freedom of it.”
Adam – born and raised in Frankfort – is a 1999 graduate of Franklin County High School and studied electronics engineering at ITT Tech in Louisville before working for DirecTV in the installation and tech support department.
“How I ended up on a golf course – that I really don’t know.”
Adam started with the city in 2003 at minimum wage in a part time maintenance position after a friend suggested the job for the summer. He thought the fresh air on the golf course would be a great way to spend the summer out of an office.
“But I really fell in love with working outside, the golf course and the people here,” he said. “There was a period of time when it was tough paying bills, and I thought I might want to look elsewhere, but I stuck it out and kept working hard.”
After working part time for a year, Adam was appointed “irrigation guy” as his first “big responsibility.”
“I would come in the middle of the night – because that’s when there’s no golfers and no workers – and water grass for three or four hours. Then I’d go back to sleep for a couple hours, turn around and come back to show up with everybody else in the morning.”
He knew chemicals and fertilizers could only do so much, and water is the key to keeping things green.
He says his dedication to the irrigation system earned him the position as assistant superintendent three years ago and interim superintendent last year.
“It’s funny, because automatically when you tell people you work on a golf course they say ‘you mow grass,’ and yeah, we do that, but that’s one of a million things we do.”
Adam’s team takes care of landscaping, fertilizers and weed control over the 100-acre course, along with maintenance for both water features and the buildings. And while Adam “runs the show,” he isn’t afraid to get out in the rough to help the crew.
“A lot of these guys were working here when I started, and I was just another young guy running the weed eater and digging a hole.”
The majority of Adam’s staff is veteran, and when he took the assistant’s position he was concerned how he would be perceived in a position of authority. However, the 12-man staff has been supportive.
“I won’t ask my guys to do anything I wouldn’t do, and I want to do what they’re doing; I think it keeps me level headed, and it lets me see the finer details,” he said from behind his desk.
Adam’s office sits in the back of a maintenance shed off U.S. 127 on the edge of the golf course, though he tries to get out from behind the desk as much as he can.
“Sometimes we have to get in our ponds up to our waist in nasty pond water and pull weeds out of there – I’ll be right there with them.”
Before he took the lead at the course he’d never regularly worked some of the tasks, but he started training himself to mow and apply chemicals.
The different areas of play – greens, tees and fairways – are each mowed at different heights and with different types of mowers, and there’s a certain technique to create the light and dark stripes, he says. There’s a lot to know, and he’s learned it all while balancing the budget and office work.
“I used to complain about having to mow the grass – it’s definitely something I was forced to do as a kid,” he said.
However, despite the aversion he had for mowing in his youth, the instant gratification that comes with his job makes the chores worth it.
“You come in when things are a little shaggy and need a trim, and there are leaves all over the greens, but then by the end of the day everything is nice, manicured and pristine looking.
“I would feel fenced in if I ever went back to working indoors. Being the superintendent now I have my fair share of paperwork and office work to do, but I actually enjoy being outdoors and working,” he said.
Though Adam works about 60 hours per week at the golf course, his time at home is spent with his two pit bulls, Ali and Kimbo, who debunk the urban legend about the breed being vicious.
“They actually live with two cats, and everyone gets along really well,” he says. “Both my cats are indoors only and de-clawed – so they have no defense really – and they all snuggle.”
Adam lives on Fort Hill near the Sullivan House – a log structure built in 1810 – and is the manager and security over the city park. Since September 2010, he’s been responsible for opening the park at dawn and locking the gates at dusk.
“It works well, because there are almost two miles of walking trails at the park so me and my dogs walk in our back yard and take our hikes.”
Part of his job is to make sure the park is cleared at night once the gates are closed. He hasn’t run into much excitement after dusk other than the occasional group of teens attempting to camp for the night.
He says living on the hill reminds him of Tennessee vacations when he comes home each night.
“Honestly we used to do that – go down to Tennessee and take the dogs to go on the trail hikes to the creeks, so it’s almost like being on vacation – it’s really neat.”
Adam says the park’s history, including the ammunition path and the remnants of former homes, are just some of the perks to the job.
“And, of course it’s covered with deer so I get deer in my own front yard just a couple feet away. I love it up there and I love it (at Juniper Hill); I wouldn’t change it for anything.”