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Jay Sisko’s pride can be seen in virtually every square inch of the crown jewel of the 18-hole Idylwylde Golf and Country Club.

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Every green, every fairway, every sandbox has been subjected to the standard of care that has remained the trademark of Burlington, Ont. A native who jumped on board about 12 years ago, traveling to Sudbury for the first time accepting his role as golf course superintendent in 2009.

Still, the Audubon Certified Cooperative Sanctuary designation that was awarded to the Idylwylde property in August 2020, ranking the course among a group of just 93 sites across Canada, may be its greatest source of pride.

The distinction of environmental excellence, awarded via Audubon International, rewards organizations that play a leading role in conservation projects, demonstrating a keen awareness of the importance of water conservation, safety and security. reduction in chemical use and water quality management, among others.

This is exactly the kind of leadership that Idylwylde officials hoped to harness when they hired the graduate of the University of Guelph’s horticulture program after a stint Sisko had in the Port Carling-Muskoka Lakes area. . By then, the avid, if not elite, golfer had long ago decided that he had little interest in returning to the bustle of southern Ontario.

He did, however, want a return, or at least a continued trip, to his roots in the golf industry, having started working in the maintenance of the Tyandaga golf course at the age of 14.

“I think the idea of ​​going out to work every day was a great idea for me,” Sisko said. “The job kept me physically active – and then there was the added benefit of being able to play golf for free. “

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Initially, his pleasure at work had a lot less to do with the magic he could weave on the landscape of a golf course and much more with the social aspect of his surroundings, as one would expect from a typical teenager.

“When I was younger, no matter what the guy asked me to do, I just got the job done, without thinking of an end goal or a bigger picture,” Sisko said. “I had great mentors and the team environment that was created was amazing. We were as much friends as colleagues.

“I just remember that I loved going to work for this reason as much as anything else.”

By the time 2009 rolled around, Sisko had a much better grasp of the general aspects of course supervision with the type of cache the Idylwylde enjoys.

“I knew I was ready to take the next step and I watched when that opportunity presented itself,” he recalls.

“I didn’t know anything about this place; I had never been to Sudbury in my life. But I applied and understood that this was the right job for me.

Obviously, there would be expectations from the membership.

Fortunately, Jay Sisko’s expectations far exceeded those imposed on him by any outside source.

“I explained to them that you must want more of the property,” he suggested. “The club had a few difficult years in terms of the way the course was conditioned.

“The opportunity to be successful here was so great. “

All of this does not mean that life in the North, when it comes to the golf industry, is smooth sailing.

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“The biggest challenge working here is surviving the winter 100%,” Sisko said. ” It’s easy. “

Idylwylde greens are a mixture of creeping curved grass and annual bluegrass – pretty much the norm in these areas.

“The grass is alive; he needs oxygen. If there is ice on the greens, they suffocate.

But where annual bluegrass can survive for about 45 days, creeping curved grass can almost triple that. That kind of knowledge, along with some progressive thinking, from a technical perspective, can help fight the fight for healthy greens in the spring.

“They experimented with a tarp system in Alberta,” Sisko noted. “I gave it a try with a green that we’ve always struggled with, and it held up really well. It is the thick black carpet that is used in the stabilization of the banks. This appears to allow the plants to still breathe under quite detrimental conditions. “

And while the entire course requires constant care and vigilance, it is often the greens that attract the most membership.

“Over time, the grass lines will reduce the size of the greens. I pushed them back to pretty much what they were originally, and that opened up pin slots for sure.

As one can imagine, it is difficult to reach any consensus regarding the course requirements of Idylwylde members. The regulars of the day for seniors aren’t likely to keep pace with the handful of elite golfers who might be preparing to make the provincial playoffs.

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Sisko and his team have to find a happy medium – and they are.

“Day to day we try to set the place up for everyone to enjoy, all golfers, because that’s really what’s important,” he said. “This is not the group of guys with a low handicap. But we’re working really hard to make sure we’re protecting the integrity of the score here; there is no doubt about it.

Playing from the black tees, golfers cover some 6,656 yards from hole 1 to hole 18. Yet few can conquer the course with any consistency.

“The defense of this place is not in its length,” said Sisko.

No, Idylwylde’s defense, appeal and uniqueness is due, at least in part, to the work of the transplanted southern Ontario native, whose approach to each working day is not very different from his summer job on the golf course back in Burlington.

“I probably wouldn’t be able to do it if I wasn’t excited yet,” Sisko said. “I just think this place has such limitless potential.”

Randy Pascal is that athletic guy from Sudbury. You can read his column regularly in The Sudbury Star.

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