My son is 15 this year and is thinking about a summer job. Of course I'm trying to push him toward employment in the Green Industry, but that is for him to decide. I started my first real job at the age of 12. My dad was general manager of a golf course in Massachusetts and he put me to work in the pro shop and with the grounds crew. I was not much of a “people person” then, and preferred outdoor work to the pro shop where I served the usual pro shop stuff (hot dogs, hamburgers, sandwiches, soda pop, milk, ice cream, candy bars, frappes (called milk shakes outside of Massachusetts), cigarettes, golf equipment and green fees).

I think my dad and the crew were trying to test me in those early years. I got all the lousy jobs and wondered why I couldn't ride around on the utility vehicle — which was not what you think of as a utility vehicle today. It was a 1939 Dodge with dual wheels in back, no cab (no doors, roof or windscreen and no seat belts) and it had a golf club as a stick shift. We called it the “Maplewood” after the course's name. The Maplewood really kicked butt on a straightaway like the par-5 ninth fairway.

The first outdoor job my dad gave me was to mow the roughs with a huge, heavy-duty rotary push mower. The thing probably weighed 50 pounds. The roughs were hilly and loaded with rocks protruding from the surface. I'll never forget the scares and bone-jarring effects that resulted from striking those rocks with the mower. Despite the ordeal, I still liked being outside rather than behind a counter. How could I go wrong working under the sun for 75 cents an hour? Today, I wonder if there were child-labor laws, minimum-wage requirements or laws against minors selling cigarettes back then. I've asked my dad about this, and all he can say is that it was a character-building experience for me. I guess because of it, I'm still in the business today.

Do you employ minors as summer help? This is your chance to mentor a youngster and start his career in the Green Industry. Or is it too much hassle? I'd like to hear from you on this. Please respond to the Reader Poll on the Grounds Maintenance Web site,

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