19th Hole: E.J. Chea

By |  December 20, 2019 0 Comments
E.J. Chea (Photo: Seth Jones)

E.J. Chea (Photo: Seth Jones)

E.J. Chea

Superintendent // Pease Golf Course, Portsmouth, N.H.

E.J., what can I get you? Maker’s Mark and Diet Coke, with a lime.

Tell me about your family. My wife is Beth. Our son Graham is 8 and a half. And we have a yellow lab named Ellis.

What teams do you root for? Boston sports is the easy answer. I try not to say Patriots. Too many people don’t like them.

Tell me about Pease Golf Course. It’s been three different clubs since 1901. It was a private club from 1901 to 1951. Then the U.S. military took over the golf course for Pease Air Force Base, and it was a military course. In 1991, the military closed here and it’s … a municipal course is the best way to describe it today. We are a 27-hole facility, and we are crazy busy. We try to average 50,000 rounds a year, plenty busy for a northern climate.

I’ve never seen a tee box so close to a runway… what kind of planes do you see come in and out of here? We see all sorts of aircraft out here. Air Force One, Marine One, F-16s, F-22s, A-10s. The KC-135 Refueling Tanker is the flagship plane of Pease. The Blue Angels and Thunderbirds are out here regularly. When there’s a special plane scheduled to come in, our parking lot gets swarmed with plane aficionados.

How many years have you been president of the New Hampshire GCSA? Four years, going on a fifth. We’re on a best management practices push for the (GCSAA.) Some guys on the
board and I have put so much time in on it, we want to see it through. We’ll be done with it next year, and then I’ll step down.

What’s your favorite tool in the shop? Our turbine blower. We use it for so many things other than blowing leaves. We use it to clean drains. We use it to fill in aerification holes; it’s more gentle on the grass than dragging it in. We also use it as a poor man’s fan. We idle it down, fill up the tank and use it to relieve surface temperatures on some of our greens.

Fill in the blank: The job would be perfect if you could just get rid of __________. Unrealistic expectations. Every course has a budget. There are certain things you can do when X is your budget … but when Y is your budget, it just doesn’t pay for it.

How is your crew there? They’re great. I have four people with over 20 years experience. I have to mention Bea … she’s been here 39 years. She’s one of our best mowers. She trained me my first day I ever set foot on a golf course! Now she works for me, but I joke that she’s the boss.

As interviewed by Seth Jones, Oct. 14, 2019.

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