Muni sports nine holes and one green thumb

July 28, 1997


Staff Writer

Allen Seacrist is the one person who probably knows every inch of Municipal Golf Course's 43 acres.

Seacrist, 57, has been the greenskeeper at the Hagerstown course for 40 years.

"Since I was 8 years old, the golf course has been a part of my life. I'm not thinking about retirement," Seacrist said.

In 1957, Seacrist, a city employee, started as an assistant greenskeeper at the South Cleveland Avenue course, mowing the greens and fairways, changing cups and raking sand traps.


"There was a lot more walking, but it wasn't with sickle and scythe," he said.

With modern three-deck lawn mowers, cutting takes about two hours compared to five or six in the old days, he said.

Allan Seacrist worked for his father, Jay Seacrist, who had been the supervising greenskeeper at the course since moving to Hagerstown in 1953 from Martinsburg, W.Va.

Jay Seacrist was killed at work by a falling tree in 1961.

"He had the patience of Job. He taught me to listen and learn as much as I could from other people," Allen Seacrist said. "He had a knack. People used to say he could make grass grow on a rock."

In April 1961, Allen Seacrist became supervising groundskeeper at the 9-hole, par 34 "modified executive" course.

Seacrist traces his increased on-the-job frustrations to television.

Sports programs "don't show how to take care of the golf course. They show the shot, but they don't show the person running over to replace the dirt," said Seacrist, who wrote to ESPN about his concerns.

He said a divot, a big chunk of sod dug up when a golfer takes a swing, must be replaced and pressed in so it will re-root.

During the last five years, Seacrist has worked to renovate the greens.

"There's no room really for expansion. We're landlocked. So we improve what we have," Seacrist said.

He said that the 1960s and late 1980s are the most notable in the course's history.

Until 1963, the course had two holes across Dual Highway, where the Burger King is now. That year, all play was was moved to one side of the highway.

"In 1968 or 1969, we went to the schools and promoted junior golf and got the Junior Golf League started," he said.

In the late 1980s, the course almost closed to make way for a shopping mall.

What tips does Seacrist offer golfers?

He said that in summer weather, golfers should wear light-weight, light-colored clothing and caps.

Stay in the shade, even if it means opening an umbrella, he said.

Seacrist and his wife, Cheryl, 53, who celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary, live on the second floor of the clubhouse. He said that when Mother Nature cooperates, the course is beautiful.

"I live in the greatest cathedral there is," he said.

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