If you golf at Sandy Hollow in Rockford or you drive by it you know it’s a beautiful golf course. It takes a lot of people to maintain it including one very special man.
In the early morning when the sun is coming up and light starts to fall on the Sandy Hollow Clubhouse, one man is already at work.
He’ Ray Putnam. He climbs on a mower and heads out onto the course. Putnam is 90 years old. He started here many years ago.
“I think it was ’92 or ’93,” says Putnam. “It’s somewhere in that area.”
That was after he retired from being a truck driver.
“I get up at four every morning,” says Putnam.
He is on the course well before the golfers are. He mows the areas around the greens and the tees.
“He has a system,” says Sandy Hollow Superintendent Ken Giesler. “He does four laps because he wants to make sure that they’ve (golfers) got quality grass that they can hit from right around the greens and tees. He moves right along.”
“You’ve got sidewinders there and the decks move back and forth,” says Putnam locking down at the mower. “When I go around you can move this deck either way depending on which way you’re going over toward the sand trap. The idea is not go get in the sand trap. Ha!”
So has he ever had any mishaps?
“Yes Ha-Ha! I had one yesterday. Ha-Ha!”
There are times when Putnam has to stop and move rakes, rocks and debris that block the path of his mower.
What does Putnam like most about his job?
“You’re outside, and I meet a lot of people here.”
“He never misses any work,” says Giesler. “He always wants to work and lots of times I can’t even get him to go home.”
So what is Putnam’s secret to being so fit and having so much energy?
“The only thing I know,” he says “Is eat right, sleep right and exercise.”
Putnam gets plenty of exercise. When he’s not on a mower you’re likely to find him on an exercise bike or a regular bike. He is a masters champion bicycle racer. He recently competed in a 12 and a half mile competiton in Moriarty, New Mexico.
“I broke a national record (for his age group),” he says.
Putnam will continue to ride his bike, but his mowing days at Sandy Hollow will soon be over as he retires at the end of this golf season.
So what made him decide it’s time to hang it up?
“My wife ha-ha!”
Putnam and his wife plan to do some traveling. Putnam is originally from Danville, Illinois where one of his classmates was comedian/actor Dick Van Dyke. Putnam also is a World War II veteran.