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19th Hole: Jeff Smelser

By |  April 27, 2021 0 Comments
Jeff Smelser, CGCS (Photo: Michael Rayman, CGCS)

Jeff Smelser, CGCS (Photo: Michael Rayman, CGCS)

Jeff Smelser

CGCS // Galveston (Texas) CC

Jeff, drinks are on me, what do you want?

A Budweiser, or eight. One always leads to multiple.

Tell me about your family.

Kellie and I have been married 30 years. We’re both from central Illinois, and we moved to Texas in 1989. We have one daughter, Karlie. She just graduated from Stephen F. Austin. She’s a registered nurse at Dallas Children’s Hospital, and she’s a member of the Texas National Guard.

Tell me about Galveston CC.

It’s the first private club in Texas, established in 1898. It’s been at its current location since 1940. It’s 18 holes of paspalum greens, tees and fairways. It’s all at sea level. Every time we get a 1-inch rain or a high tide, the course floods. There’s not a lot of damage — a lot of debris, a lot of cleanup — but not damage because the water just rises and then goes down.

What teams do you root for?

The Cubs and anybody playing the Cardinals, but I love all sports. I am a diehard Cubs fan. I try to go to a game every year.

What’s your favorite tool?

Right now, it’s a little homemade sprayer on the back of my golf cart with three nozzles that I just drive around with and spot spray dollar weed and whatever needs sprayed.

When I’m in Galveston, where do I have to go to eat?

Primos. It’s a little hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant. Best breakfast in the world and the hottest, spiciest sauce. You just want more and more. It’s fabulous.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen on a golf course?

When I was an assistant back in 1990 at North Shore CC, Portland, Texas … our old irrigation system had a clock on the wall where you set little pins. I went to the maintenance barn on a Sunday afternoon to set up the irrigation. I walk in, and there’s a guy doing jumping jacks! I went back to the mechanic’s bay and grabbed a crowbar and called 911. I kicked the door open and yelled at him. He left and went down in this ditch … I’m just watching him to see where he went, and then two cops draw their guns on me and yell, ‘Get on the ground!’ I told them, ‘He went right there!’ They put me in the police car to identify him. As I’m driving up in the backseat, I’m looking out, and my general manager looks at me with the most dumbfounded look. Turns out it was an escaped person from the mental hospital. They think he had been living up in the attic of the maintenance building for two or three days. When we would close, he’d be in the shop all night.

That’s crazy! I’m glad I asked.

To add a moral to the story, now I never go to my maintenance barn without my handgun.

As interviewed by Seth Jones, March 16, 2021.

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