A Working Day in the Life of ... Lew Means, Starter and Ranger for Soldiers Field Golf Course - By Jennifer Koski
An avid golfer for 40 years and counting, Means has attained the revered but rarely realized hole in one, a shot he landed on a 165-yard drive at Maple Valley golf course in 1994. But golf isn’t Means’ only sport. In fact, Lew Means may be the only hole-in-one golfer in Rochester who’s also bowled a 300 game and sits on Rochester’s Bowling Hall of Fame. He was placed in Rochester’s Bowling Hall of Fame in 2003 for superior performance, averaging over 200 for more than 40 years. “I’m actually a good bowler and a mediocre golfer,” Means says with a laugh. “But I love both games.”
So why spend Thursday mornings working the links when he could be playing? “It’s important to give back to the community,” Means says. “If people don’t give back, the community won’t grow.” A man of his word, Means is also a member of the Olmsted County Park Board and serves as president of Rochester’s First Tee program, an organization that teaches children life skills and core values through golf. He has also been a member of the Olmsted County Social Services board, a Diversity Council facilitator, a member of the Community Health Care Access Collaborative Advisory Council, and has volunteered with other community organizations.
This morning, though, it’s all about men’s golf. And senior men’s day at Soldiers Field starts bright and early.
6:30 a.m.: Means arrives at Soldiers Field. He makes sure the golf carts are ready to go, and takes a look at the morning’s list of tee times. It’s important to review this list. Once, a golfer accidentally signed up for three different tee times on a single morning. “Oh, we gave him a hard time,” Means says, chuckling.
7:15 a.m.: The first foursomes of the morning arrive. Means jokes with them over a cup of coffee as they ready their bags and take a few practice swings.
7:34 a.m.: First tee time of the day. Means positions himself outside the door, where he can see both the front (1st) and back (10th) starting tees. Today, the first players of the day have arrived on time and tee off on schedule. Means bids them good luck—and reminds them to stay out of the water—before greeting the next foursome coming around the corner.
8:00 a.m.: The phone starts ringing, and Means starts answering. Starting at 8 a.m., players can call for tee time reservations good for the next five days.
8:16 a.m.: A group wants to know if they’re too late for their 8:14 tee time. Means tells them they’ve barely made it, and hurries them onto the front tee. “I try to accommodate as many people as I can,” Means says. “But if they miss their tee time, there’s no going back. We have to let the next group through.”
9 a.m.: Everything’s running on schedule, and Means takes a few minutes to chat with some players who’ve come in early. He talks to them about his First Tee program, which is based at Rochester’s Hadley Creek Golf Learning Center. It’s a topic about which he’s especially passionate. “First Tee introduces kids to the game, teaches them to set goals, helps them move through skill levels,” Means says. “It’s just a great, great program.” He hopes to get the First Tee into the school district, providing training to physical education teachers.
9:37 a.m.: A foursome starts at the wrong tee, so Means jumps in a cart and drives out to redirect them. Sometimes, Means admits, the problems on the course aren’t so easily fixed. “A guy threw his clubs in a tree once,” he tells me, laughing. “I had to get a ladder so he could fish them out and continue his game.”
10:06: a.m.: The last group of the morning tees off. Means sticks around out front for a few more minutes to make sure everything is going all right. He chats with the groups returning from earlier tee times, cheering their successes and commiserating with their frustrations. “Greens are fast this morning,” one man tells him. A few minutes later, another golfer languishes, “I would’ve had a birdie on 7 if it wasn’t for that slow green!”
11:30 a.m.: Means calls it a day, heading home until next Thursday. Well, except for the two or three times he’ll be back out this week to shoot a few holes himself.