At Boavista Resort we realise the importance of having a team that reflects the identity of the resort and every team needs a captain.
Joaquim Costa (JC) is the golf course superintendent at Boavista Golf & Spa in Lagos. The course is now one of the most sought-after venues among the 39, or so, Algarve courses. Its popularity is due, in no small part, to the dedication and hard work that JC and his team have put in over the last 22 years.
JC, as he is affectionately known, meets the criteria of having both experience and dedication to lead the golf team at Boavista Golf & Spa. Over the past 37 years he has worked on golf courses in Florida, Germany, and Belgium and for the past 22 years here at Boavista Golf & Spa. He was instrumental in the creation of both the Gramacho and Vale da Pinta courses at the Pestana Resort back in 1989. Having trained in the USA (G.C.S.A.A.) and in the UK (B.I.G.G.A.), he now lectures at the National Golf Course Superintendents’ Association and has a pedigree in golf course management that is second to none.
In some ways, golfers are similar to football supporters! Patience please, let me explain the analogy! On a Saturday afternoon 40,000 supporters watch a football match. Suddenly 40,000 people from all walks of life are top class referees and football managers. Each has his own opinion and belief as to how the team should play, coupled with intimate knowledge of the referee’s ability and parentage. Now I am not suggesting that golfers are quite so vociferous when expressing their opinion of golf courses, but we all have our own thoughts on how this should be done – This bunker shouldn’t be there. Fancy letting the rough grow that long! Who put that lake in front of a green, surely that can’t be right? And so on and so forth.
The poor old courses superintendent is on a bit of a hiding to nothing. To quote Abraham Lincoln: “You can please some of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all off the people all of the time.”
It doesn’t happen in five minutes and it has to happen while we are playing. The logistics of working around the paying public are in themselves extensive. Work starts just after 7am and continues throughout the day until 8pm. The staff has to contend with the inconsiderate golfer who does not repair pitch marks, does not rake bunkers and who obviously out of frustration, can cause damage when driving motorised buggies where they should not. I can tell you from spending time with the staff that they all take enormous pride in their work and what they achieve. To hear “their” golf course being praised by the playing golfer is just reward for their hard work.
“It is impossible to understand golf without learning to play it”, said JC, so he teaches his team to play golf so they can understand exactly what they are doing. “We need to see the course from the clients perspective so we can take some details into consideration”, explained JC.
“This also helps our staff understand their work better. For example, when the staff carries out maintenance work, they are able to take into account that high noise levels can interfere with the player’s concentration and consequently change the course of the game. For this reason, we try to do the most potentially disruptive work in winter.
Not only is it important for JC to provide the best experience for golfers visiting the course, it is also important for him to nurture a positive environment for all his team: “We try to give the best conditions to our staff; we know the importance of this and understand why we are doing it. For example, during the summer, in the hottest months, employees are able to have a 3 hour lunch to avoid the highest temperatures the day”.
“Here we promote the flexibility and independence of our staff; a great team is made up of staff who are focused on objectives and the customer,” explained JC.
The team, which is made up of 12 people, is multidisciplinary and works together. Among irrigation technicians, machine operators, mechanics, and technicians responsible for fertilisation, they are always learning new things; which avoids people finding their jobs monotonous.
“Despite all the team having different areas of expertise; we often see our staff helping each other when they finished their work without ever being asked to,” said JC who then added: “I have one of the best teams in Portugal”.
So the next time you are out there enjoying your round and the flora and fauna, spare a thought for what it takes to provide us with a superb golf course. And remember to repair those pitch marks!