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Move from Golf Course Super to Racecourse Manager

Tuesday 23, Feb 2021

ATM editor Brett Robinson catches up with former golf course superintendent David Morrison who for the past three years has been track manager at Clifford Park in Toowoomba, one of the country’s premier twilight racing facilities.

If there is one truism in the sports turf management industry it’s that you never stop learning, no matter how many years you have been in the game. Take David Morrison for instance. It was 1982 when he took his formative steps in the turf management profession, leaving school to take on a position at Brisbane’s Oxley Golf Club. Over the years he would rise to be course superintendent at Jindalee Golf Club for two years, Hills International Golf Club for a decade and finally Windaroo Lakes for seven. 

Towards the latter part of his time at Windaroo Lakes, Morrison openly admits he was getting stale. He had achieved what he had wanted to do there and felt that a change was in order, but didn’t want to leave the industry. Like many superintendents before, he decided to give a trade role a go, picking up a job as a technical sales rep with Living Turf. In that role for three years and despite enjoying the change, it ultimately wasn’t for him, so when an opportunity to get ‘back on the tools’ came along, albeit in a different sector of the industry, he invested all his resources into making it happen. 

With over 30 years under his belt in golf, including the best part of a decade on the committee of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of Queensland, racing had only ever been a fun hobby for Morrison. He was part of syndicate run by a well-known current-day Gold Coast superintendent and loved a punt and a few coldies with his mates. While he admired and respected the work that racecourse managers did, he had certainly never considered it as a possible career choice. 

All that changed when Toowoomba Turf Club advertised for a new racecourse manager for their Clifford Park facility. Popular track manager Chris Nation had just secured the plum gig over at Belmont in Perth and they were looking to hire. Living on the Gold Coast at the time, Morrison saw the ad but didn’t apply, but after telling his wife about it and being summarily told “why aren’t you putting your hand up, that role is so you!”, Morrison rang Nation to sound it out. “Go for it” was the response and within a week he was being quizzed by the club’s chairman and then interviewed by the chief executive. In July 2017, at the age of 52, Morrison was officially appointed as Clifford Park’s new racecourse manager and found himself moving to Toowoomba.

 

CLICK HERE to read the full article, originally published in Volume 22.6 of the Australian Turfgrass Management Journal.