Raymond golfers may have noticed a new face on the grounds of Shoal Creek Golf Course this summer as they bid farewell to Tom Irwin, who served as superintendent for the past three decades.
Succeeding Irwin is Drew Eilerman, who resides in Zanesville Township with his wife and their two children.
"I'm very bad at golf," he said with a laugh. "But I love playing."
A native of Carrollton, he became familiar with Montgomery County when he began farming in Litchfield about 11 years ago. During that time, he served as a golf course superintendent for Oak Hills Country Club in Girard for a year.
Eilerman heard of the job opening by word of mouth, and he looks forward to the upcoming improvements to the grounds during his tenure. His responsibilities include the chemicals and grounds side of paperwork and maintaining equipment. With his experience in mechanics earned from Nashville Auto Diesel College in Tennessee, he provides all mechanical work to the equipment.
"We're going to try to improve the course to make a better playing experience for anybody that wants to come out," he said. "Make the course more competitive again."
Recently Shoal Creek received 12 new gas golf carts and equipment – mower and sprayer – and are currently undergoing several other changes to its course. Grounds employees are vigilantly working to convert the fairways to zoysia grass, a warm season grass that provides a better playing surface. The process takes roughly three to four years, however, golfers should see results the very first year.
"A lot of the bigger courses have already converted to it," he said. "Litchfield Country Club would be the best course to look at zoysia grass." He also commended its superintendent, Mike McMahon on his efforts in groundskeeping.
In addition to zoysia, Shoal Creek employees are installing new pins, flags and existing T-box signs and markers, and are refurbishing the gazebos and benches.
Eilerman plans to extend the driving range and build a new T-box for that addition in the near future. Additional impending changes include a new women's/senior T-box on number 4, as well as an update of the irrigation system.
"I believe when we make the improvements, playing will increase drastically," Eilerman said. "Tom and the town board have been very helpful and willing to make the changes and improvements that I would like to do. They're very easy, good people to work with."
Located at 505 North West Street in Raymond, Shoal Creek Golf Course is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week. For more information, call 217-229-4545.