On BuffaloGolfer, we’ve been fortunate to introduce our readers to professional golfers, club professionals, top junior and adult amateurs, and golf course architects. Today, we have the great thrill of our first interview with a golf course builder and repairer. Tony Grenzy is the brains and the brawn behind Faery’s Golf, based in Ransomville, NY. His team has worked on many courses, from Buffalo to Rochester, and Tony was kind enough to answer our usual spate of questions. His responses are thoughtful and insightful. It is a pleasure to toss you on to nine questions with Tony Grenzy, of Faery’s Golf. Enjoy, and happy holidays.
1. Tell us a bit about your background and how you came to be involved in the golf course construction business.
I got into the golf course business by answering an ad for a mechanic at Niagara Falls Country Club in the early 90’s, My first year there I worked in the shop in the winter and on the golf course in the summer I had no knowledge beyond basics of golf before working there. I learned a lot that summer and really enjoyed it at the end of that first summer and while working in the shop the superintendent at the time Greg Davis approached me about possibly being his assistant. His comment was that it would be easier for him to teach a mechanic about turf than to teach a turf guy about mechanics. So, after 9 years as an assistant and Greg’s teaching I had learned a lot more. During those years I learned that I really had a passion for the construction and inner workings of the golf course (irrigation, and drainage). Jack Faery was our go-to guy when it came to construction projects that were too big for us to handle in house so to make a long story short when it came time for me to switch jobs he was my first phone call, and luckily he was looking to expand his golf course construction business also. That was 20 years ago, and the learning still continues.
2. Break down your jobs in western New York and let us know exactly what you did on those sites.
Golf courses that we have worked on in the Buffalo Area:
Park Country Club: Bunker renovation, Tee construction and leveling, Creek bank restoration.
Crag Burn Golf Club: Bunker restoration, Practice facility, Drainage.
Orchard Park Country Club: Bunker renovation, Green construction, Tee construction.
Harvest Hill golf course: Cart path edge repair, Irrigation.
Country Club of Buffalo: Tee construction, Sod nursery.
Bob-o-Link: Tee construction and leveling.
East Aurora Country Club: Tee construction, Irrigation.
Glen Oak: Bunker renovation, Drainage, Tee leveling, Creek bank restoration.
Moon Brook Country Club: Bunker restoration, Tee work.
Transit Valley Country Club: Bunker restoration, Driving range, drainage, pond construction.
We also do a lot of work in the Rochester area as well.
3. What does the average golfer have no clue about, when it comes to the golf course that she/he plays every week?
For the most part the average golfer does not know all the working parts of a golf course basically what they can’t see. They all know it has an irrigation system because they can see the heads but have no clue the amount and the size of pipe and wire that is needed to make it all work, not to mention the technology.
There is a lot of science and technology involved in golf course construction and maintenance and due to lack of knowledge golfers tend to simplify it especially if there is an issue on the course.
4. What golf course haven’t you worked on, that you would love to help improve/return to prominence?
That’s a tough question so I will make it a little more generic, Due to lack of funds there are quite a few municipality courses that have been neglected. It would be great to see those course brought back to there original glory, as some of them are the predecessors to the major country clubs we know today. It would be good for golf especially daily fee golf to see more restoration work being done to them.
5. Pick any site in western New York that is NOT a golf course currently and tell us why it could/should be a great golf course.
With the current state of golf in the United States new builds are not being done as much as they have been in the past. Again, as in the last question I am going to say instead of building new courses we need to pool the golfers and the revenue so that we can improve the courses that we have.
6. You’ve worked with Ian Andrew (golf course architect) on a number of local projects. What expertise does an architect lend to a project?
Let me first start by saying we have worked with a lot of great architects over the years on a lot of projects in the Buffalo and Rochester area. We have been luck enough to work with Ian Andrew on a few of them over the last couple of years.
In my experience working with an architect brings a whole new dimension to any project as contractors we are good at all the technical stuff meaning we know how to build it and fix it. Architects on the other hand look at golf courses different than we do or maybe I should say I do. When I look at a golf course, I see the way it all fits in to the area around it its what we call tied in in our business. Architects look at the strategic lay out of the course basically all the ways to play a hole with all the risk and reward involved. Ian mentioned last year that as a shaper I am really good at seeing how it ties in from 20 yards as where he needs to look at it from at least 200 yards. All golf course could benefit from having an architect visit them once a year it helps to prioritize needs and to quantify the work that needs to be done to improve the course.
7. What repair/restoration is the most difficult to make to a golf course in western New York?
In western New York it is not the project that is difficult it is our climate, the perfect season for golf is also the best time to do construction we have no slow golf season when construction can get done like in other areas of the country. So, over the years we have learned how we can do our job and also allow golfers to play at the same time obviously it is not a perfect situation for either of us but we have learned how to make it work. We pride ourselves on being able to get any project done with minimal disturbance to golfers and to the golf course.
8. What should golfers know about the soil, the topography and other elements of the Buffalo-Niagara area, that will help them become better golfers?
With the short season that we have and the amount the weather can change from year to year we need to understand what it takes to maintain a golf course to the standards that we have set in the United States. The grass may be greener than next door but due to soil, topography, and the ability for our weather to be different in less than a 50-mile radius it is not an easy task to maintain perfect conditions every day. I can’t help golfers improve their game, but the experience would be better if they just take the time too look around and enjoy the setting.
9. What does the future hold for your company? What projects do you have in the hopper for 2020 and beyond?
We have been talking with a few courses on bunker renovation and other work over the next couple of years. As far as 2020 we will be at Penfield Country Club in the spring finishing up a bunker renovation that we started in the fall of 2019, we also have some drainage work to complete at Country Club of Rochester.