The 19th Hole: Steve Houlihan

By |  May 11, 2017 0 Comments


Steve Houlihan
Superintendent // Blue Mound G&CC, Wauwatosa, Wis.

What can I get you? I’ll have a Captain and Coke.

Tell me about your family. My wife, Kate, and I have two daughters. Aubrey is 5, Brynn is 3. They like to be active, especially now that the snow is melted.

Tell me about Blue Mound. It’s a classic course, a Seth Raynor design, opened in 1926. I relish the history component of the course. Each hole is modeled after a famous hole in Scotland. It’s our goal to keep restoring the course back to its original design.

What kind of wildlife do you see at Blue Mound? We seem to be a magnet for stray dogs, so I have to put on the hat of animal control every once in a while. Lots of deer, coyotes, turtles, ducks. Last year, I put on a new hat and I became a pheasant farmer. I’m feeding them and trying to keep track of them.

Did you go to UW-Madison specifically for turf? When I first got to school I wanted to design golf courses, but they reminded me I’m not Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer or Tiger Woods, so you better take this soil science program and be a golf course superintendent. I had four uncles who were superintendents. I saw what they did and I wanted to model what they were doing. I thought it’d be a good career choice.

Are your uncles still in the business? Two of them are still in the business. I’m part of the Shaw family tree — Jim, Pat, Charlie and Dan. They’ve all been superintendents in the Milwaukee area.

What did you learn from your uncles? And did any of them advise you not to get into the business? One of them told me to run far away, but I stuck my feet in the mud and haven’t gotten out. It’s cliché, but they taught me not to overthink things. It’s not rocket science, use common sense.

You went to UW-Madison, I’m guessing you’re a Badgers fan… Packers, Badgers, Brewers, Bucks, you name it. I’m a home-grown guy.

What’s something you never leave home without? I have a soil probe with me at all times. When I see something, I want to dig into the ground and see what the ground is showing me.

Did you see that the new Star Wars preview came out today? I didn’t! I grew up a Star Wars fan. I’m a movie buff.

Have you considered what age, and in what order, you’ll let the girls see the movies? They’ve already watched them all! We started with the new one, they liked it so much we went back and watched one through six, and now we have a date to see number eight when it comes out in December. Start ’em early, right?

Photo: As interviewed by Seth Jones, April 14, 2017.

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