April 2016

A Day in the Life of Osprey Valley Golf’s
Head Mechanic, Jason Sharples

Jason Sharples’ alarm goes off at 4:00 a.m. five days a week. And that’s only over the winter. Once our 2016 golf season begins, the alarm will go off at three, six days a week. Given Mother Nature’s recent wintry blast up here in Caledon, Osprey Valley’s Head Mechanic may just have a few more days left in which to catch that extra hour’s sleep.

2016 will mark Jason’s 11th year here at Osprey Valley Golf and we are grateful to have him. “Jason has passion, enthusiasm, and great attitude. He’s always in good spirits and a magician with the machines,” says Dave Hunter, the Superintendent of Hoot and Toot. Upon talking to Jason, that passion for his work becomes immediately apparent. “Probably the toughest part of the job is when a machine doesn’t want to cooperate,” he says with a wry smile. “It comes in broken and you work on it, and it appears to be fixed and it goes back out, and it comes back in broken. There are always one or two machines a year that decide they don’t want to leave the shop. See, machines have personalities too, and sometimes they just don’t want to work one year.”

Jason came to Osprey Valley in September of 2005 with a background in Private Investigation and Canine security. “At the time, I had been travelling all over Canada, doing labor dispute security,” he says. “I had absolutely no social life. Then I met my wife-to-be, and right then I decided I really needed to stick around. I had a little knowledge about small engines, and I applied to Osprey Valley Golf and one other place. Osprey called ½ hour earlier than the other place.” Here in Osprey Valley, we know how lucky we are that we made the earlier phone call. And we really should thank Jason’s wife, Tanya, for helping him decide to stick around. It’s not just every man who can begin a job with a “little knowledge of small engines” and become the Head Mechanic for a three course facility like Osprey Valley Golf in ten years.

Over the long winter, while our golfers are busy skiing, snowmobiling, or taking golf trips to balmier climes, Jason and our Agronomy team continue to work. No longer mowing grasses and fixing sprinkler systems, the “off season” is the time when all the equipment that keep our courses in tip top shape is repaired and made ready for the spring.

“This time of year I’m generally at work by 5:15 or 5:30,” Jason says. “I try to arrive about an hour before the rest of the staff starts. In season, they come in at 5:30, so I come in at 4:30.” He and our other invaluable mechanic, Ron Robinson meet and have their coffee and talk, setting their game plan for the day. Then they get down to work.

“Over the winter the mechanical work isn’t just me and Ron,” says Jason. “It’s all hands on deck. The superintendents and the assistants all come in and work with us. When we’re all working together it allows me to spend some time on the orders & choreographing what needs to be done.”

And what needs to be done is quite a lot. As you might imagine, our three, 18-hole championship courses in Osprey Valley require a lot of equipment to keep in the outstanding condition our golfers have come to expect. One of the biggest single tasks involves the repair, cleaning, drying and sharpening of the 120 reels used on nearly 30 different mowers. “Usually we try to get the reels done before Christmas,” Jason says, “so we can spend the next few months on the rest of the equipment.”

If those 120 reels sound like a lot to repair and maintain, just wait, there’s more. There are the mowers themselves, the Sidewinder rotary mowers, used to cut the 2-inch rough on either side of fairways, and the larger, 5 deck rotary Groundsmasters used to cut the wider areas of the rough on Hoot and Toot. Then there are the 9 Workman heavy utility vehicles, used to haul grass piles, dirt, fertilizer, the 6 tractors (including their large “bush hog” attachments that cut Heathlands’ fescue grasses every fall). There are also are nearly 40 of what Jason calls the “people movers,” two-seater vehicles used to transport the agronomy staff around the grounds. There are the 4 beverage carts, the 10 trimmers, the 6 backpack blowers….the list goes on. And on. And on.

Still, Jason doesn’t mind the work. “You know, you have those jobs where you wake up and you say, ‘Ugh. Another day?’ With this one, well, I may say, ‘Whoa, it’s early,’ but I never mind coming to work. I’m up before the kids, but I’m home  in time to pick them up from school and I’m with them until bed time. Of course, in the summer time I’m actually in bed before they are, but it’s not until the evening’s well on…”

Another fun part of the job is that by all accounts, the Osprey Valley Agronomy department is like a family. Jason agrees. “We all hang out together, even after work we have get togethers,” he says. “It’s a great atmosphere in the shop. This time of year we work until about two and have a late lunch lunch together. We’re there 5 days a week over the winter, but it’s a little more relaxed, with some breaks for snow days. Just a week ago we had a bad ice storm and the power was out for two days, so the mechanics had some time off. Unfortunately, the superintendents and the assistants had to spend a lot of time cleaning up the damage.”

When asked what his favorite thing about his job, Jason says it’s the changing seasons and the changing work. “It’s never the same thing. Day in and day out there’s always something different, something new. And there are seasonal changes too. Just when you’re getting bored of summer and cutting grasses, fall arrives and it’s time to fix the machines. When the machines are all set it’s open season again. It’s always something different.”

Now, in April, as winter in Caledon makes what we all hope will be its last stand, it is, in some ways, the lull before the storm for our Head Mechanic. “All of the major work on the equipment is done by now. Now is the time of year where I don’t feel guilty about taking the kids down to Myrtle Beach for March Break. Now, we hurry up and wait.”

We hope you won’t be waiting too long, Jason!