Patty Reedy can do a pull-up with one arm. Her muscles are taut. She thinks that it’s because she is part Blackfoot Indian. Maybe true, but the shoveling and hoeing may also have something to do with it.
Three years ago, Reedy came to L.A. with her golden retriever, Lulu, to work as superintendent at one of the city’s most exclusive golf clubs — so exclusive that she isn’t allowed to name it. The position is not only high up for a person of her age, 29, but is also rare for a woman. It’s her job to make sure that 18 holes are smooth and rough where they ought to be. She knows grass better than a pothead, and she manages a team of 20 men who depend on her to keep the place looking right. Otherwise they all catch the ire of angry club members.
“Hell,” she says with the nearly imperceptible drawl of a youth spent in the swamps of southeast Texas, “sometimes you even have to give yourself a pep talk and tell yourself that you can do this even though you stick out like a sore thumb. You basically have to roll up your sleeves, grab a shovel and work your ass off, all the while keeping your mouth shut if your back hurts or if you chip a nail.”
But Reedy’s hands, gently smoothing the red hair on top of Lulu’s head, are worn from years of work. In 2001, she earned a degree in agronomy at Texas A&M University. After that, she moved to Chicago, where she and Lulu rode their carts through three different courses. Her latest appointment is too posh for that — no Lulu allowed.
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Lately she has spent her days preparing the course for certification as an Audubon Sanctuary. This means protecting and attracting certain species of birds, insects and native plants by changing some of the accepted practices into environmentally conscious ones. It is stuff like this that Reedy loves. She can even find the beauty in a weed.
“A weed has a place somewhere,” she says. “They go through the same processes that the human body goes through. Converting food into energy for survival. They are alive, but what’s amazing is that you can manipulate them. Manipulate them so much, in fact, that you can, for the most part, control their growth rate, color and even the way they take up and utilize nutrients. How else would you be able to putt on grass that’s cut at less than an eighth?”
Photo by Kevin Scanlon