Huge numbers of Elk winter on the greens at Ironbridge, Glenwood Springs.
Huge numbers of Elk winter on the greens at Ironbridge, Glenwood Springs.

John Weider and his unusual VIP winter guests

Posted on December 06, 2012 at 12:00 PM

Colorado, Glenwood Springs… a tidy little town on the edge of some of the best skiing in the world, is the home to John Wieder, Ironbridge Golf Club, and the famous hot water spa.

“We have a tough climate here. The winters are hard. It’s dry in the Spring and Fall. And then there’s the Elk. Big creatures - around 1000 lb. We get some spectacular wildlife on the course – some visitors like Brown Bear, and Mountain Lion visit occasionally in the early morning. The golfers don’t worry about them at all, but some more persistent groups of Elk do create a few problems for us. We have around 150 of them each year. When the rivers freeze further up the mountains, they come down to set up residence for 2-3 months.”

As lovely as they are, they do make a mess, so we have to work pretty hard to get on top of the problem.

The club members have been amazing. This year we had 42 volunteers. We worked together for 5 hours – cleaned up the patches, scarified them down and filled them with sand and seed mixture. We did all 18 holes, plus the practice facility and got the place back into shape. I think it gives the members a sense of ownership.”

John loves working along side the club members, and the experience allows them to understand the challenges of the job of maintaining a golf course, whatever the weather, whatever the wildlife. “Players do comment on how nice the course looks, and how fast the greens play.”

John has been using Bernhard grinders for over 12 years and is a devotee of the brand and the company. He told me, “These machines are so easy to set up, true each time. The speed on and off is very impressive. I go through a bunch of reels – you can pop them on and off, no fiddling, to get the adjustment right.

I have used other makes over the years, but no one makes grinders like Bernhard. “

Born and bred in Colorado, John learned mechanics at an early age, as part of the family business, and came to golf via Goodyear, where he worked for many years. He’s now had 25 years on golf courses and loves the environment and the job.

When we met at GIS John was sporting a broken arm after a bike accident he’d had on the way to Vegas. He told me he now rides his Harley for pure pleasure – after many years of racing big V8’s at Pike’s Peak – the second oldest race in the US. So the challenge of a few Elk are nothing to John, but he’s a happy man.

He has his course, and his Harley, and his Bernhard grinders.