These days are filled with mixed emotions for Kevin Black, the 62-year-old longtime golf course superintendent at Prairie View Golf Links in Worthington, Minn., a small town of 13,000 people and just one McDonald’s.
Black has been at the course since 1995, and he has worked there for the last 21 years, including Saturdays. That is until earlier this year, when the city council voted to cut funding for the golf course and decided not to open it for play this season.
“I guess I could see the writing on the wall for a number of years,” said Black, a 23-year member of GCSAA and recent recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the South Dakota GCSA, where he is a member. “We were losing about $160,000 a year, and I think we only did 5,000 rounds last year. But it’s a shame. It was a good run. We did a lot of good out here, and golfers were always satisfied with the course.”
Black started his journey in golf course management in Iowa, where he attended Iowa State University and worked at the municipal golf course in Spencer for 13 years. Along the way, he earned distinction as a certified golf course superintendent (1996) and certification in several areas of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf, which teaches students environmentally sound principals while protecting wildlife on the course.
At the height of business for Prairie View, Black had 12 employees and enough funding to barely make ends meet. Now, he spends his days on the course with his yellow Labrador, Auggie.
“It’s just me and my dog now,” said Black, who is still grooming the bentgrass greens to perfection so they can be sold for sod later this year. I still think that if this golf course were located in a metro area, we’d would have been making money hand over fist. I won’t lie. It’s hard when something you worked on for so long is not going to exist anymore.”