19th Hole: John Gurke

By |  January 3, 2020 0 Comments
John Gurke (Photo: Lou Ferraro, South Park Photography)

Photo: Lou Ferraro, South Park Photography

John Gurke

CGCS, Aurora (Ill.) CC

John, what are you having? I’m a bourbon guy … Knob Creek.

How big is your family? We’re the definition of the nuclear family. Jen and I married two years ago. She has three daughters, Tanya, Jessica and MacKenzie. I have two kids, Tre and Taylor. Taylor blessed us with two grandkids, Jayden (5) and Juliana (5 months.) That’s our social life now, having the grandkids over and having fun with them.

Tell me about Aurora CC. Aurora is the second-biggest city in Illinois, an old river town, working class. The club has been here since 1914, both Tom Bendelow and William Boice Langford had their hands on it. I have overhead photos from the 1920s, and there’s hardly a tree on it. Now, we’re a treed-in parkland-style course. We’ve been working slowly but surely. I’ve been here for 30 years — I’m removing trees that I planted.

What teams do you root for? Bears, Cubs, Blackhawks and the Fighting Illini when they’re not terrible. Thankfully, Lovie Smith has them playing decently this year.

What’s your favorite holiday treat? I used to gorge myself on my mom’s Christmas cookies. She made several different types, but the butterballs were the best. She’s not with us anymore, so part of it is the memory of her. Also, vanilla zingers, but those are an everyday treat.

What’s your favorite tool in the shop? We bought a used PlanetAir HD50 — it’s a mad, crazy aeration device. We paired it with an old Cushman. Anything we want to poke holes in and not have people notice — that’s what we use. It solves a lot of problems for us, and you can go as fast as you want.

How long have you been playing golf barefoot? Since my first round at Arrowhead Golf Course, age 8. My dad used to tell me that Sam Snead golfed barefoot, and he’d also stop to fish during his round. In my mind, that made it OK. Jen and I play barefoot together to this day. Now, if I ever get invited to play Skokie CC, I’m probably going to wear shoes.

Do you have any fond memories of your first boss? I have so many! Eddie Fischer hired me twice, at Butler National when I was in high school and during the Western Opens, then he hired me again when he went to Old Elm Club. Dave Blomquist (CGCS-Ret.) and I showed up late daily, especially on the weekends, because we were out partying. He would always find us on the golf course, look at us, look at his watch, shake his head and then just drive away. He never gave us too much of a hard time at that young age, and I think that’s why we’re both still in the industry today.

As interviewed by Seth Jones, Nov. 18, 2019.

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