Joined: 06 May 2005
Location: London, Ontario CANADA
|Posted: Sat Jul 02, 2011 12:53 pm Post subject: Wilson Golf Reed On The Greens - Cheryl Bell Retires
|Wilson Golf Reed On The Greens, by Jeffrey Reed
July 4, 2011
Copyright 2011 London Ontario Golf
When Cheryl Bell launched her career with London’s municipal golf system in 1984, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau ended his career, the Wayne Gretzky-led Edmonton Oilers won their first Stanley Cup, and cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya became the first woman to perform a spacewalk.
Closer to home, Bell, too, was breaking new ground – literally. Thames Valley Golf Club hired her to cut greens and fairways, so she left her post as a cashier and customer service representative at the now-defunct Public Utilities Commission, which back then operated London’s muni golf system. In 1992, the City made Bell London’s first female golf course superintendent.
Bell officially retired last week, but she ended her 27-year stint with Thames Valley in early June, partly because she didn’t want a dramatic goodbye tour interfering with golf course operations. That’s just the type of person Bell is: unselfish to the core.
In fact, despite the fact she was a pioneer on the local golf scene, Bell refuses to take on that title.
“I don’t look at it that way. It’s an honour. I love my job,” said Bell, during one of her last days grooming the carefully-manicured fairways at one of the oldest public golf clubs in eastern Canada.
“I have no regrets from the day I stepped onto this property,” Bell said, eager to get back to work while chatting from the seat of her tractor. “I’ll miss it. It’s going to break my heart to leave, and yet I can’t wait to go. It’s time for me to go. It’s a new era, for me to move on. But a piece of me stays. A piece of my heart stays here.”
With Bell retired, Debbie Dale at London Hunt & Country Club is the city’s only female superintendent.
A lot has changed within the golf industry since Bell traded her desk jockey position for seat on a mower. For example, a computerized irrigation system helps keep Thames Valley one of the nicest muni tracks in all of Canada. Five-plex fairway cutters and modern mowers are much more efficient and precise from tee to green.
“The equipment has changed unbelievably,” said Bell. “The irrigation system is state-of-the-art. When I first started, we were dragging hoses and standing, and now it’s all done by the computer in my office – a big difference.”
Bell’s typical work day started with a coffee. “Gotta have my Timmy’s!” she said. Of course, weather conditions determined each day’s duties. And although Bell went out quietly like a lamb during her last day on the job, this spring came in like a lion. Bell spoke about how difficult it was to remain on schedule with turf maintenance during the monsoon of 2011. But a true professional, she said it was all in a day’s work.
Now that she has put away her work boots and gloves, Bell hopes to do something she has been a part of for her entire career at Thames Valley: golf.
“I would like to take up the game of golf,” said Bell. “I own a set of golf clubs, and I have golf shoes, but a golfer I’m not. I hope that changes in the near future. I have a very dear friend who likes to golf, and I’m hoping that we can hook up a couple of times a week.”
Bell said when she took her new post in 1984, everything was “an adventure.” No doubt, there are scores of new adventures waiting for this trailblazer as she begins a new chapter in her life.
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