SAN ANTONIO – One by one, the motors on a row of lawnmowers inside a garage near the Brackenridge Park Golf Course roar to life, waking up the birds sleeping in the trees nearby.
It’s a sound that signals that, even though it’s still the middle of the night for many people, the greenskeepers are getting to work on a long list of chores.
“They know the course pretty good. They know exactly what they’re gonna do, what mowing pattern they’re gonna do that day,” said Robert Cano, superintendent of the golf course.
Cano oversees the team charged with the upkeep of the course. On any given day, it consists of about a half dozen or so people.
Their goal is to get that to-do list done before the first group of golfers tees off each morning.
In the dark, they groom the grass and reposition all 18 holes to keep the game challenging.
Often, they have to watch out for hazards, themselves, that go beyond just sandtraps.
“(There are) usually a lot of skunks out here. Skunks, mainly. Raccoons. Possums,” Cano said, talking about the wildlife they encounter.
All of that, though, is part of the package that comes with this historic oasis in the center of the city.
Brackenridge is part of the Alamo City Golf Trail and the oldest public 18- hole golf course in Texas.
Still, taking care of it is not without the use of modern technology.
“If I want to water something, I can just pull my phone out and test a sprinkler,” Cano said. “Or if that green needs water, I can water it with (an app on) my phone.”
Taking care of the greens, Cano says, requires both a scientific approach as well as a bit of an artistic flair.
“You gotta have a passion for it and there’s a lot of ins and outs to it. It’s not just a matter of mowing and watering and cutting grass,” he said.
If all goes as planned, Cano and his crew do all of that and more each day before the sun is up.