The 18-hole golf course at Augusta (Maine) Country Club will be the site of this month’s Maine Senior Four-Ball Championship. Photo courtesy of Augusta Country Club
Chris Barnicoat works nowhere near Georgia, but sometimes you wouldn’t know it.
As superintendent at Augusta Country Club in Augusta, Maine, Barnicoat has stories to tell about that other golf course with a similar name located more than 1,140 miles away.
“One time I got the bill for Augusta National’s soil reports,” says Barnicoat, referring to Augusta National Golf Club, home of the Masters. “Sometimes we get the wrong emails. I did a brief stint as general manager here at the club, and it was around the time when there was some controversy regarding women at Augusta National (women were not allowed membership at the time of the controversy Barnicoat mentioned, but in 2012 the club introduced its first female members). I came into work with thousands of emails of protest. It took me hours to delete them all.”
You cannot, however, erase the mark that Barnicoat (right) has made in the industry. A 22-year GCSAA member, Barnicoat has put his degrees in turfgrass management from the Stockbridge School of Agriculture and plant and soil science from the University of Massachusetts Amherst to good use. He interned at legendary The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., and was also a key leader as assistant superintendent in the grow-in at Friar’s Head (Riverhead, N.Y.), the No. 15-ranked course in Golf Digest’s “America’s 100 Greatest Golf Courses” biennial ratings for 2019-20.
“I ran the day-to-day operation. The grow-in served me well,” says Barnicoat, 43, who was also an assistant at another top 100 course, No. 51-ranked Garden City Golf Club in Garden City, N.Y. “We had some ice damage here this year, some greens that were completely gone, but the grow-in gave me a green thumb and the know-how to handle things.”
Barnicoat has Augusta Country Club ready for the Maine Senior Four-Ball Championship on June 18. It seems he was destined to become a superintendent. “I was obsessed with mowing my parents’ lawn,” says Barnicoat, who is the father of 11-year-old Ewan. “I liked striping it up, making it look good. We used it for whiffle ball. I’d make the checkerboard and diamond patterns. I’d double-cut it so the stripes would get darker and darker. I don’t think my friends knew how intensely I mowed it.”
He also maintains a keen ear. “When I pick up the phone and hear a Southern accent, I know they’ve got the wrong club,” Barnicoat says.
Howard Richman is GCM’s associate editor.