Glenwood Golf Course greens keeper Kirk Blaszyk is in heaven on ‘The Hill’
Glenwood Springs Post Independent contributor
During the early winter of 2019, Glenwood Springs Golf Club superintendent Jim Richmond faced a difficult decision.
Richmond has been at the helm of the 9-hole course — known by most as “The Hill” — for the past 34 years. Late in the autumn of that previous year, he lost his assistant, Jim Farris, to a long battle with cancer.
For the better part of 15 summers, Farris had been at Richmond’s side, and now there was a big void to fill on the grounds crew that has always been a two- or three-man operation.
“He was a good friend. I spent more time with him during the golf season than I did with my wife,” Richmond recalled. “It was a big loss.”
Richmond still had part-time mechanic, Clarence Muhme, whom he calls “the glue that has held the Glenwood Golf Course together through the years,” to help keep things running smoothly. Muhme, who owned the Little Engine Shop in Glenwood Springs before coming to the golf course 20 years ago, has fixed every machine, both big and small, for Richmond in helping to keep the fairways and greens on the West Glenwood course in top shape.
“I think he has worked on everyone’s lawn mower in Glenwood at one time or another,” Richmond said.
With springtime inching ever closer, and the course opening for 2020 just around the corner, Richmond spotted a familiar face taking some practice swings one afternoon on the chipping green near the maintenance building. The smooth stroke belonged to Kirk Blaszyk, who is a regular player on “The Hill” and who also possesses 22 years of experience as an assistant superintendent at the nearby Aspen Glen Golf Club.
“I just walked over to him, kind of joking around, and asked when he was going to come over to the public side of golf and leave the private course,” Richmond said. “He was interested in the position, but I wondered if we could pay him enough.”
Richmond need not have worried, because the money was never a consideration to Blaszyk when the opportunity to join many of his longtime friends at the GSGC presented itself. A dream job had come knocking at his door.
“Losing Jimmie (Farris), I knew that Jim needed help and I knew that I could step in and do a good job for him,” Blaszyk said. “I was also looking forward to working with (general manager) Jerry Butler and his assistant, Jim Roy.”
Blaszyk’s first calling was a career as a chef after graduating from high school in Rockford, Illinois, and attending culinary school in Chicago. He served as an executive chef in that city, as well as Milwaukee and Denver, before his indoctrination into the world of golf. His love of the game has continued to blossom ever since.
“My mom introduced me to the game when I was 9 years old,” Blaszyk remembered. “She was the president of the ladies club at the Sandy Hollow Golf Club in my hometown. The course was loaded with big trees and narrow fairways. I enjoyed every minute of being out there.”
Blaszyk’s official title is assistant superintendent to Richmond, but with his many years of navigating the 18-hole layout at Aspen Glen, he pretty much knows what to do before he is told.
“He sees pretty much everything we need to work on,” Richmond said. “He knows exactly what needs to be done without me telling him.”
Blaszyk even falls back on his extensive skills in the kitchen from time to time in the Greenside Grill at the golf course.
“I cook for many of the special events they have up here, whether it’s a club party, wedding or a class reunion,” Blaszyk said.
A highlight of Blaszyk’s lifelong golfing passion was winning the Glenwood Open Golf Tournament in July 2017. After having won the men’s club championship the previous fall, Blaszyk said winning the Open was the icing on the cake to a rewarding golf season.
“I finally got good enough to play in the championship flight and was fortunate to be able to win. It was a big thrill for me.”
It would be safe to say that being at the Glenwood Golf Course is akin to a daily visit to Shangri-La for Blaszyk. But what he likes most about the gig has nothing to do with mowing fairways or marking a birdie on the scorecard.
“I love helping to keep things looking so nice up here and the competition of playing golf, but I just enjoy the camaraderie of being around all of these guys. Listening to the old Glenwood stories from people like Roy, David Vanderhoof, Todd Thulson, Terry Wilson, Mark Smith, Richmond, and all the other guys up here is wonderful to me,” Blaszyk said. “And, you get a lot of ‘Thank you’s’ at this place.”
It’s beyond a hunch that there will be plenty more remarks of appreciation at the Glenwood Golf Course as long as Richmond, Muhme and Blaszyk keep doing their thing for many years to come up on the hill.
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