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After 43 years, golf superintendent Pat Steinbacher retiring at Belles Springs

Situated just outside of Mill Hall next to the Clinton County Motor Speedway and fairgrounds sits the Belles Springs Golf Course. It’s a quiet, 18-hole course with great views.

But part of the reason the greens look sharp and the fairways are well maintained is because of Pat Steinbacher.

His father originally owned the land its situated on — it started out as a farm in 1964 — and by 1967, the county offered to buy the land to build a golf course.

Steinbacher, his seven brothers and their father all talked and voted on what they should do.

“The majority wanted to go with golf and so we went with golf,” he said.

Steinbacher found himself going from farming to grass maintenance at the new golf course.

“I check the greens every day, apply herbicides, it’s a superintendent’s job. You take care of the grass and keep the grass alive,” Steinbacher said. “You’re basically a farmer, just cutting the corn shorter than your neighbors.”

The former farmer turned golf superintendent is set to retire soon after 43 years at Belles Springs Golf Course.

It’s been a long journey for Steinbacher, but he never really reflected back on everything. He still has the same approach as he had in 1968 when it was first built: take things day by day, week by week.

“I never thought about it,” Steinbacher said with a laugh of the past four decades. “I just go day to day, one week at a time. That’s pretty much how I’ve done it for almost 44 years.”

Steinbacher started out on the course by mowing the greens and planting trees in the late 1960s. In 1972 and did a tour in the Navy before coming back in 1976 to the course.

He was a mechanic at the golf course from 1976-80 and then took the superintendent position after his father was killed in an accident. His father was the first superintendent of the course and Steinbacher became the second.

“They gave me the job and that’s what I’ve done ever since,” Steinbacher said.

“It felt like home. After traveling in the Navy, I saw everything from the South Sea to Israel and everything in between,” he said of coming back after his tour with the Navy. “I figured it was time to sit still. So I just felt at home there (at the course).”

Steinbacher is planning on staying at the course next year on a part-time basis to help with the transition for the new superintendent. Part of that is due to the fact that given Steinbacher’s been at the course since it was built in the late 1960s, he knows where everything’s located at. That includes the nearly 7 1/2 miles of pipe that run underground and where everything is for the irrigation system.

“There’s a lot out there that seems normal in your day to day stuff. Golf Professional Judd (Caruso) and I were talking that it’s the little things we do that we never think about. We just do it,” Steinbacher said. “Someone else coming in is not going to understand that.”

Steinbacher noted that some of the changes he was glad he was able to see happen were putting in women’s tees, adding a few blue tees for the “big hitters” and putting in some senior tees.

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