By Casey Neill
Warburton Golf Club’s reigning champion Paul Mason swears his role as the greens superintendent doesn’t give him an unfair advantage.
“People will say that because I work here,” he laughed.
“The other golfers would know the greens as well. They’ve played here enough to know.”
The Yarra Junction local has won five of the last six Club Championships, including picking up the latest title on 1 December, so he must have some advantage over the other players.
“Maybe it’s experience, I guess,” he said.
“I’m a bit older than some of the other guys.
“Jonathon (Cross) came second and he’s only 24 or 25.”
Mason explained that the championship involved four rounds of golf.
“The lowest score at the four rounds is the Club Champion for the year,” he said.
“It was the ninth time that I’ve won it,” he said.
“I’ve won five of the last six. The other four were 10 or 12 years before that.
“I had a break when we had children so I didn’t play for about five years.”
He’s played the game since he was 15, so about 30 years.
“I was playing footy and cricket and then the grandparents were golfers,” he said.
“I used to quite often stay with them. They lived in Lakes Entrance.
“Once I became decent at it I gave away the footy and the cricket and just played golf.”
Mason enjoyed that it was an individual sport.
“You’re always striving to be better,” he said.
“It’s you against the golf course.”
He’s taken care of the breathtaking Warburton course for the past 22 years.
“I take it for granted because I’ve been here for so long,” he said of the views of the towering mountains throughout the course.
“It’s a nice course. It’s quite hilly.”
Mason did his apprenticeship at Olinda Golf Course, where he played his junior golf while growing up in Monbulk.
“I knew a few guys that were here and there was a job going,” he said.
“I’ve been here ever since. I was lucky enough to get the job.”
That was in 1996. Within three or four years the guy who was in charge moved on and Mason grabbed the opportunity to step up to course superintendent.
He’s responsible for maintaining all the playing surfaces and setting up the 18-hole course for golfers.
“I think it’s over 100 acres,” he said.
“There’s only two of us so that keeps us very busy.
“We mow our greens four to five times a week, because you only mow your greens at 2.5 millimetres so they’re very short.
“It’s a lot of repetitive mowing.”
Then there’s the watering, fertilising, spraying to stop pests and disease, and weed removal.
Mason has to keep an eye out for snakes along the creek, and also encounters echidnas, kangaroos, wombats, foxes, rabbits and a lot of deer.
“They do a fair bit of damage in the winter,” he said of the deer.
“The wombats dig around the tees, which is annoying.”
On his future goals, Mason said he’d like to win more Club Championships.
“Each year I play in it. Obviously I want to win it each time I play,” he said.
“I am playing more now than what I used to. I’m fairly keen on my golf again.”