Working the fairway mower is just one job for a golf course superintendent.
Working the fairway mower is just one job for a golf course superintendent.
Cutting the cup on hole No. 2 at Brown Deer Golf Course.
Cutting the cup on hole No. 2 at Brown Deer Golf Course.
Rolling the green adds up to a foot and a half of speed to the surface.
Rolling the green adds up to a foot and a half of speed to the surface.

Shift switch: Golf course superintendent

A golf course is a living thing, with insects, weather, grasses and trees all affecting how it plays on a given day. All of those things, and a host of others, must be managed daily by that course's superintendent to make it playable – and aesthetically pleasing – for the golfer. To work it requires a long day, and there are a lot of duties.

I traded places (well, kind of) with Brown Deer Golf Course superintendent and Milwaukee native Tim Wegner to get a better feel for what exactly he does, and I found out how hard it really is.

Your work day begins nearly when the clock does in the summer, with Wegner rallying his team in the maintenance building when most others are sleeping.

On my way to the golf course located at 7625 N. Range Line Rd., I saw only two oddly motivated (or cross-wired) runners and an annoyed man with a dog, along with two cars.

This is what the outside of the office looked like upon arrival:

Now, in the late summer, Wegner’s crew is a little smaller – it’s at nine people now that school has started, down from 14. In the near darkness, we hit the course in a cart make a quick check of the property – making sure nothing unexpected or severe happened overnight – while picking up loose debris.

"Kinda the nice part of the morning," Wegner says.

We also take a look for disease that may be growing on the fairway grass – its light coloring makes it easy to spot in the near-darkness. That helps Wegner determine how much chemical to use, and where to disperse it.

The light comes fast, and the crew is already hard at work mowing the greens. With a smaller crew, the tasks of changing the cups (the flag placements) on the greens and mowing the putting surfaces require immediate attention.

This is where he put me to work.

Job 1: Changing the cups

To change all 18 holes is a process that takes about three hours, and it’s not just as simple dropping a cutter in the grass to make a hole. It requires a lot of thought and a little bi…

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Tyler Thornburg looks to prove, again, that he can pitch regularly in the big leagues.
Tyler Thornburg looks to prove, again, that he can pitch regularly in the big leagues. (Photo: David Bernacchi)

Thornburg healthy, ready for big year

Tyler Thornburg has been pitching for the Milwaukee Brewers since 2012, but last year was to be his first as a full-time reliever.

He started well, but was then lost for the year with an elbow injury. the 26-year-old is back and healthy at the start of 2015 and hopes to prove, again, that he belongs in the majors.

OnMilwaukee.com caught up with right-hander at the start of the season.

OnMilwaukee.com: You pitched in 27 games last year before being shut down, and the team when it a vastly different direction after that. Does right now feel like a continuation of last year, or that it almost didn’t happen at all?

Tyler Thornburg: A little bit. I feel like anytime something like that happens you have to kind of like, re-prove yourself. I think anytime someone’s coming back from an injury for an extended period of time, whether it’s surgery or guys that maybe didn’t play the last few months, sometimes you have a to prove to yourself that you’re, number one, healthy, and two that you’re still productive.

As far as what role I’ll be in at the beginning, its one of those things where I have to prove myself again, prove that I was the same guy that I was in April (14 games, 0.61 ERA) when healthy, and go from there.

(As of April 22, Thornburg has struck out 8 and walked 3, compiling a 5.59 ERA in 9.2 innings across 6 starts this season.)

OMC: Since you had success in this relief role, does it put you in a good mental state? Or is it different because you’re also thinking about your arm feeling a certain way?

TT: I think it’s just one more thing that I have to concentrate on. When you’re feeling 100 percent and you’re not worried about your body at all, then you’re just concentrating on one thing and that’s being productive, having a good outing, whatever it may be.

So, right now, leading up to the game, I’m just trying to do everything to get my body healthy and make sure I’m healthy when I go out there and pitch. It’s a long season, so to…

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As his second full season got underway, Khris Davis was feeling confident.
As his second full season got underway, Khris Davis was feeling confident. (Photo: David Bernacchi)

Davis felt good as season got underway

Khris Davis rocked back in the chair in front of his locker in the Milwaukee Brewers clubhouse, positioned for the first time next to veteran and former National League Most Valuable Player Ryan Braun.

"I feel great," he said as Opening Day loomed. "I can’t ask for a better situation and I just love coming to the ballpark and being able to compete with my teammates."

The Brewers left fielder expects himself to exceed the 22-homer, 69-RBI season of a year ago. (Through 13 games, the Brewers are 2-11 and Davis is batting .283 with no home runs and 2 RBI.)

OnMilwaukee.com: 2014 was the first time you made the Opening Day roster, and began in this position. What can you apply from that experience to this year?

Khris Davis: Yeah, nothing really changes. It’s all about winning. At the end of the day, that’s like what we make our paper off of. That’s it.

OMC: Last year you went through some adjustments with your approach to hitting – where are you at in that regard at the start of this year?

KD: I mean, like, I’m not different from most hitters – you know, seeing a good pitch and putting a good swing on it. That’s as the most basic it can get. I mean, nobody’s trying to reinvent anything. I’m just taking it pitch by pitch, you know?

OMC: Was there anything specifically this winter that you wanted to add to your game?

KD: Just work on good habits, as far as my routine. If you do that you just get rewarded. It’s just that simple.

OMC: How do you reflect on the start of last year, which wasn’t as good as you wanted?

KD: Yeah, I didn’t start that great. I mean, shoot, it is what it is. I’m not sure you choose to go through those struggles but I have scars from those struggles, you know? That’s all I can do is make mistakes and try not to make them same mistakes over and over.

OMC: Like anything, it heals …

KD: Yeah, everything gets better. That’s all I gotta do is just keep working hard and enjoy it. I’ve been completely happy.

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Giannis Antetokounmpo's lonely start in Milwaukee has allowed him to improve.
Giannis Antetokounmpo's lonely start in Milwaukee has allowed him to improve. (Photo: David Bernacchi)

Lonely start allowed Antetokoumpo to rise

There is a door just a few steps outside the film room at the Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin Training Center – formerly the Cousins Center – which leads to a short staircase that winds down to the practice court.

It’s nothing special, unless you’re looking for quiet. For comfort.

It’s a place you could find a teenage Giannis Antetokounmpo after practices in his rookie year. There he would sit, a phone hidden in his capacious right hand, his left hand wrapped around his left ear, head bowed.

These are small stairs, and at 6-feet, 9-inches his knees rose to the top of his head as he sat curled like Rodin’s Thinker. Only, he was reaching for home, for family in Greece.

Once, he wandered up to that film room, and saw former Bucks assistant Nick Van Exel.

Coach, do you ever get lonely?

As his family struggled to get out of Greece, Antetokounmpo couldn't help but feel that way, even though he had two advantages in an easier acclimation.

One, was his personality.

Charming, funny, and always honest, he endeared himself to his older teammates. Like how he once wired all of his money home, requiring him to run to the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Or by learning to drive on a team employee’s Subaru Outback Legacy station wagon, and mastering parallel parking. By experiencing the wonders of his first snow and smoothies through his tweets and YouTube videos.

The second advantage was a Bucks roster that featured fellow international players Zaza Pachulia, Ersan Ilyasova, Miroslav Raduljica and Carlos Delfino.

"That makes it easier — I believe in that," Pachulia said of the bond between international players. "We want all the best for him. We are his teammates, we are his family members now, so we definitely want all the best for him. But again, everything starts with personality obviously. If he wasn’t a good guy it was going to be hard to play with him, work with him, be friends with him. But everything starts from there and obviously you build from t…

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