Break room beautification benefits S.C. course crew

Volunteers show appreciation for maintenance team by refurbishing run-down facilities at Oldfield Golf Club: ‘They deserve someplace nice’ 


Oldfield crew in break room
Oldfield Golf Club staffers actually make use of their break room now that it has been scrubbed, repaired and upgraded by a club volunteer group. Photos courtesy of Rick Stafford

Conditions as the old staff break room in the maintenance building at Oldfield Golf Club in Okatie, S.C., used to be so bad, staff members would eat outside.

“Nobody would use the refrigerator,” says Rick Stafford, Oldfield’s GSCAA Class A superintendent and a nine-year association member. “Guys were bringing in their own microwaves and stuff.”

Not anymore, and the crew has the Oldfield Volunteer Corps to thank for its swank new digs.

Stafford, who has been at the Lowcountry course for a year and a half, says nearly 20 OVC members helped turn the maintenance building’s lounge, offices and bathrooms into a space not to be avoided but actually used — and enjoyed.

“No, I’ve never heard of anything like that before,” Stafford said of the willingness of his club’s members to go above and beyond to show their appreciation for the crew. “Normally, golf maintenance shops are the least of everybody’s concerns. Most of the shops I’ve worked at were nice, but none are as nice as this is now.”


Members of the Oldfield Volunteer Corps worked four- and five-hour shifts for nearly a month to make the maintenance team’s break room more comfortable.


Oldfield volunteers


The Oldfield Volunteer Corps is made up of members of the larger Oldfield living community. Previous projects included building a chicken coop, a playground for Oldfield children and a community garden. OVC also holds philanthropic fundraisers: proceeds from the sale of handmade American flags were channeled to BackPack Buddies, which helps feed vulnerable children; the sale of Adirondack chairs benefited the Mercy Mission food pantry in Hardeeville, S.C.

Not all volunteers are golf club members, but the OVC’s Guy Cali thought the shop spruce-up needed to be handled primarily by that subset of OVC volunteers.

“As an equity golf member, I felt the volunteers we asked to help should be golf members,” Cali says, noting the volunteers were men and women. “We have a superintendent here who we really want to stay. We want his crew to stay here. We realize how hard it is to get a great superintendent, and we realize how hard it is to get hard-working people. Ricky is somehow able to maintain his crew, the same people, and in this environment, that’s amazing. You can’t get waiters. You can’t get help. It’s just really difficult to get workers everywhere. 

“And we’re so appreciative of him, so we wanted to do something to show our appreciation for him — and his crew. He and his crew are out there at 6:30 in the morning. They come in for lunch, get their orders, then go right back out again. We appreciate all they do, and they deserve someplace nice.”

Though the club provided most of the funds that paid for the project, all the work came from OVC volunteers.

“We’re very fortunate we have some skilled people in our community,” Cali says. “Most of the people in our community are from corporate America. We have successful entrepreneurs, jet pilots, rocket scientists, lawyers. And we have people who know how to swing a hammer.”

Rick Stafford
Rick Stafford has been at Oldfield Golf Club for a year and a half.

Those were the folks who labored — for about a month, often in four- or five-hour shifts, in the evening hours after the crew had mostly gone home — to turn the space from homely to homey. They replaced water-stained ceiling tiles and repaired or replaced damaged, dingy walls. They reupholstered furniture and replaced cabinetry. 

“It had been neglected since the building was installed 20 years ago,” Cali says. “And the kitchen was unfunctionable. They’d go in there and want to put their lunches in the microwave at the same time. Now there are four or five in there they can use, and we gave them a new refrigerator so they all have room for their lunches. It just makes their lives easier.”

Stafford was blunter.

“It was nasty,” he says of the before. “The board was doing a capital review, and I brought them down to the shop and showed everybody what we were living in. It’s hard to make the course excel, it’s hard to boost team morale, when you come into a dirty work environment like that every day.”

Oldfield golf course break room
Golf course maintenance crew members at Oldfield Golf Club in Okatie, S.C., are thrilled with the work volunteers performed to spruce up their break room and other maintenance-building facilities.

Stafford built on the OVC’s break-space beautification — which included the installation of monitors to display daily work assignments, replacing the “old school” whiteboards — by cleaning up the work areas as well. Stafford and crew threw out four dumpsters’ worth of “old junk laying around” and organized equipment storage and the fertilizer barn.

“It was kind of a learning situation for them and us,” he says. “I showed them what a good shop should look like, cleaned it up inside and out.”

Naturally, the crew digs its new digs.

“They’re thrilled. They take a lot of pride in it,” Stafford says. “When they’re done eating lunch, they all work as a team, and everybody cleans everything up. They’re taking a lot of pride and ownership in it.”

All of which thrills Cali and the OVC volunteers.

“We just love Ricky and his crew,” Cali says. “They turned our golf course around 1,000% from what it was. He can grow grass. He talks to members. He listens. We just wanted to do something to show our appreciation for him and his crew and the work they do. He said, ‘Hey, look, my employees need a better environment — deserve a better environment — to work in.’ So we went in there and fixed and painted and scrubbed and straightened and took care of him and his staff. We’re just so appreciative of what he and his crew do.”

Andrew Hartsock is GCM’s senior managing editor.