Welcome to the first of many articles featuring members of the Wives of Turf. We thought this would be a fun way for the world to get to know a little bit about us and our lives on the course.
Dirt? Soil! It is all Rooted in Semantics.
Name: Kristen Liebsch, married to Joe Liebsch, CGCS
Children: MegAnne, 16; Alec, 13; Ragan, 7
Career: editor, writer, publication and document designer, manager
Hobbies [to keep me sane]: running, endurance training, reading and writing.
Early on in our marriage, when our now teenagers were in or just out of diapers, I would make the mistake of saying the word “dirt” and be reprimanded. By one of the children! “It’s NOT dirt, Mommy, it’s soil!” One thing about this profession is that it has the ability to spread its roots in to all the corners of your life, much like dirt!
My first encounters with the golf turf industry were through Joe. I can remember when we were dating and he was studying at Rutgers, we would sit around and do the “Pin Oak Dance!” Eventually, I was rooted in the industry, too, using my writing/editing/publishing background to do contract work for his facility and the Philadelphia Association of Golf Course Superintendents.
Being married to and working in the industry is not uncommon. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right? Sadly enough, all of the long hours, career instability, and extreme pressures have beaten up more than a few marriages. Joe and I have not found any one magical lifesaver to keep us afloat, but me working for the industry that Joe loves so much has somehow been integral to this family’s survival. That and a few aeration sessions: it helps to poke a few holes in the relationship, pull out the weak stuff, and insert a little new life, as disruptive as that may seem.
Our children experience the struggles and the stress, too. They miss their father all season long. They LOVE when he surprises them by showing up somewhere they don’t expect him [me, too!!], but they have been reduced to tears when they find he is not around when they hoped he would be.
The toughest struggles to date revolve around the current recession and what I call the auto-correction of the golf industry. The industry, though currently stymied, is in the process of redefining itself. It has left us facing unemployment, uncertainty, and all the things that accompany them. Yet roots are tenacious life forces.
Meg, Alec, and, lastly, Ragan, have grown up on and around golf courses, maintenance sheds, golf carts, aerators, grinders, piles of sand and mulch. They had little choice in the matter if they wanted to see Daddy. They love to drive the golf cart, to help cut cups, to get on their hands and knees and examine the soil profile, to climb the mounds of mulch and dirt [sorry, but it just isn’t soil until it has roots growing in it, right? I always lose that argument.]
I have written before that golf courses are places of beauty where people can gather to relax and de-stress while feeling part of something. Golf courses provide much-needed areas of open space for many communities. The professionals who care for the turf, provide for the turf, and improve the science and technology of turf are critical to the industry’s survival and ability to thrive going forward. I am proud to be rooted as a wife of turf and advocate for the industry.
If you’re a member of the Wives of Turf and would like to have your story of life on the course featured here please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.