Eagle County golf pro will help with 2008 Olympics | VailDaily.com

Eagle County golf pro will help with 2008 Olympics

Melanie Wong
Vail CO, Colorado
Theo Stroomer/Vail DailyWith mowers and other equipment behind him, course manager Chris Chase holds up a golf ball in the maintenance area of the Eagle Ranch Golf Course in Eagle. After six years at Vail Golf Course and two at Eagle Ranch, Chase will be moving to Hong Kong in January to manage the Hong Kong Golf Club.

EAGLE, COLORADO ” Chris Chase likes to say he majored in “dirt,” and now that knowledge is taking him to Hong Kong.

The 34-year-old Edwards resident, who studied “soil science” in college, has kept golf courses groomed and green for eight years in the Vail Valley, first at the Vail Golf Club, then at the Eagle Ranch Club.

But in January he will be heading for new turf as superintendent of the Hong Kong Golf Club. The club is a 54-hole complex, and the site of both an international professional tournament and the 2008 Olympic equestrian events.

Chase, originally from Wisconsin, said it will be hard to leave his snowboard and all his friends in the valley, but after eight years here, he is ready for change.

“I’ve always wanted to work overseas, and it’s going to be amazing being part of the Olympics,” he said.

He will be in charge of grooming and helping build the 6-kilometer course for the cross country equestrian event. While he may know his way around grooming a cross country ski course, he admits he has no idea what to expect for an equestrian course.

“And then after the horses rip it up, we’ll have to re-do it for the pro tournament!” he said.

Jeff Boyer, director of golf at Eagle Ranch Club, said that while he is sad to see Chase go, it is a great opportunity.

“The (Hong Kong) course is pretty old. For someone in the golf industry to work at a place that has a lot of rich history is exciting. Also, there’s the fact that it’s in China,” he said.

Also, with Chase’s experience managing the courses, he will be ready to move up to a bigger club, Boyer said.

“Chris has a good eye and great knowledge,” he said. “It takes quite a bit of education and understanding of how to manage 100 acres of turf that is manicured to high specifications. It’s much more intense than your front lawn!”

Looking back over his time in Vail, Chase said he is amazed at how much golf in the valley has grown.

One by one, he has seen the courses pop up ” the Cordillera Summit Club, Red Sky Ranch, and Brightwater.

“There’s definitely a lot more courses. When I first got here, Eagle Ranch wasn’t even open. There was definitely a boom after 2000,” he said.

He has been able to see the valley make a name for itself not only as a ski destination, but as a golf destination, he said.

“This valley’s definitely become a golf hotspot. It was still popular back then in the summer but now there are a lot more people who come out for the summer season,” he said.

And not only has his job allowed him to be around a sport he loves and to work outdoors, he has met many friends and interesting people working on the Vail course, he said.

“It’s been great meeting members, playing golf with lots of the people you meet, especially in Vail,” he said.

Chase has never lived abroad before, and he said he knows there will be challenges.

Moving from the dry Vail climate to Hong Kong, which is very humid and has a monsoon season, will be a big change, he said.

His first visit to Hong Kong when he interviewed for the job in the fall was quite new experience, he said.

“The skyline was amazing,” he said of the towering skyscrapers. “All the people and congestion were definitely different for me, too.”

And while he has bought a book on learning Cantonese, the dialect of Chinese spoken in Hong Kong, he knows adjusting to the language and culture will take more than some airplane reading, he said.

“People definitely seem more reserved there, but that could be a big city thing, too,” he said.

Despite some nervousness, overall he is just excited to be there, Chase said.

“I’m at a point in my life where I wouldn’t mind a new experience and a new challenge,” he said.

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 748-2928 or mwong@vaildaily.com.

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