By Rob Kiser
Call Sports Editor
Kirt Huemmer may not be as visible as the Golf Course Working Supervisor at Echo Hills as in the past.
But, you can be sure he will continue to make the golfers experience a more enjoyable one — something local golfers have benefitted from since 1987.
Huemmer recently retired from full-time duty, but will continue to work up to 30 hours a week.
“I am not going to be out here as much as before,” Huemmer said. “They want me to limit it to 30 hours. I couldn’t do that if I didn’t have such a great crew. I couldn’t do it if they were kids. I have 3-10 guys — they are all retired guys — they all do a great job and know what they are doing.”
One reason Huemmer is sticking around is his commitment to the golf course.
“The debt (for the new nine) will be paid off in 2019,” he said. “I wanted to stick around until then for them. I told them I would give them three to five years.”
Another is Assistant City Manager/Financial Director Cythina Holtzapple.
“I have had eight supervisors — and she (Cynthia Holtzapple) is the best. She is easy to work with and always has your back.”
The golfers could say the same about Huemmer — and the course they have to play now is a far cry from the nine-hole layout when he arrived.
Huemmer was a standout golfer for Springfield Shawnee High School and never lost his passion for the game.
“I had worked off and on at Reid Park in Springfield for eight years,” Huemmer said. “That was when I was going to Wittenberg (University). Someone told me I should switch to Turf Agronomy and I got my Associates Degree from Clark State. I had only been working at Sugar Valley Country Club in Xenia for six months when the job in Piqua opened up in 1987. I moved my family up here.”
He certainly didn’t have high expectations after his first look at the golf course.
“After my first day, when I got back home to Xenia, I told my family I wasn’t sure what I had gotten myself into,” Huemmer said. “The entire course was cut the same length. There was no definition between rough and fairway. That was different than any golf course I had ever seen. There was no irrigation system. The only thing that got watered was the greens.”
And there was not exactly state of the art technology.
“They had to hand-walk the greens when they mowed them,” Huemmer said. “They had one part-time guy. They only had four mowers — and they needed them. Because there was always at least one that needed worked on. “One of the first things I did was put out a survey to all the members and ask them if they would be willing to pay $50 a year more for membership to put an irrigation system in. It came back about 90 percent in favor — so we put that in in 1988. We also went from mowing three days a week to six days a week.”
Huemmer again proved invaluable to the community and City when Echo Hills added a second nine in 1994 — becoming an 18-hole golf course.
“When they put the new nine in, the company that did it was going to grow it in — I told the City they didn’t need to do that, that I could do that,” Huemmer said. “I lived out here for about two months, but it saved the City $70,000.”
Huemmer has always focused on the recreational golfer in the course setup — and giving them a reason to come back.
“You want the recreation golfer to be able to come out and have fun,” he said. “About 90 percent of the golfers don’t break 100 — those are the people you cater to. You want them to be able to enjoy themselves and make it fun for them so they will come back.”
And fortunately, local golfers can continue reap the benefits of Huemmer’s work for a few more years.