Kevin Ault was about 5 years old when he first put his hands on a golf club.
That first and probably awkward experience got him started with a game that he's now turned into a career in his hometown of Fort Dodge.
Ault is the manager of Lakeside Municipal Golf Course, and he realizes that he is lucky to be making a living in a game he loves.
Kevin Ault, manager of Lakeside Municipal Golf Course in Fort Dodge, checks the inventory of new golf clubs for sale at the course’s clubhouse recently.
''I'd say I'm very lucky because this is something I've been wanting all my life - just to be around the game of golf,'' he said.
But it would be wrong to think that Ault collects a paycheck for playing a leisurely 18 holes a day. In fact, he rarely touches a set of clubs during a typical workday.
His hours - which can be quite long when the course is open - are filled with doing all the things that keep the course and its clubhouse operating smoothly.
At Your Service
Position: Manager, Lakeside Municipal Golf Course
Office: Golf course clubhouse, 1417 Nelson Ave.
Hours: Vary according to season and golf course events
How to reach him: 576-6741 or email@example.com
Ault is in charge of scheduling events and league play at the golf course. He's also responsible for the clubhouse, which means he does everything from starting the coffee in the morning to depositing the daily receipts. Since taking over the job in March 2008, he's also had to become something of a food service expert because the kitchen and bar in the clubhouse are part of his domain.
However, he doesn't do anything with the actual golf course. The tee boxes, fairways, greens and sand traps are the responsibility of Chad Graaf, the course superintendent. Ault and Graaf knew each other before taking their current jobs. Now they work together as equals.
''It's a lot of fun to work side by side with someone you know real well,'' Ault said.
After winter weather closes the course, Ault begins making plans for the next golfing season. He orders supplies, winterizes the golf carts owned by the course and does maintenance work in the clubhouse. Winter is also when he takes his vacations.
His first season as course manager produced a stream of rewarding moments for him. He said he likes seeing the reactions of people who play at Lakeside for the first time.
''It's one of the best 18 holes around,'' he said.
Witnessing the celebrations that follow after someone plays their best round or hits a hole-in-one are other highlights of the job for Ault.
Golfers are passionate about their game and about Lakeside Municipal Golf Course, which can spawn complaints that inevitably come his way. That, he said, is the part of the job he hates.
He played at Lakeside only occasionally while growing up in Fort Dodge.
While he first played the game as young boy, he didn't become an avid golfer until he was a student at Fort Dodge Senior High School. He said he wasn't very good, so he began playing from sun-up to sundown to improve his game. He played at what was then the American Legion Golf Course northwest of the city (today's Willow Ridge Golf Course) and at Fort Dodge Country Club.
During his high school years, he played golf and football. After graduating in 2002, he went to Wartburg College in Waverly, where he was on the golf team for four years.
After graduating with a degree in business administration, he worked a few jobs in the business world before coming to the golf course. At first, he sold computer software. Then he became a manager trainee at Menards, which he followed with a stint as a production supervisor for Bertch Cabinet Manufacturing Inc. in Waterloo. Those last two positions taught him bookkeeping and personnel management skills that he uses at the golf course.
''Menards and Bertch gave me a lot of real life experience,'' he said.
Contact Bill Shea at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org