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Charting a new course

January 03, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - In Hagerstown city records, 2003 can be marked as P.S. - post-Seacrist - because it will be the first year since 1953 that a member of the Seacrist family is not the greenskeeper at Hagerstown's Municipal Golf Course.

Allen Seacrist, 63, has retired as greenskeeper after serving in that role since 1961. His final day was last month.

Seacrist said he retired to travel and spend more time with his family.

While he is through working full time, he is applying for part-time jobs at private golf courses.

His father, James "J.C." Seacrist, served as greenskeeper of the nine-hole course from 1953 to 1961. James Seacrist died in a 1961 accident while clearing land for the course.

Allen Seacrist and his mother, Dorothy, took over James Seacrist's duties, with Allen Seacrist maintaining the grounds while his mother managed the office.

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His mother stopped doing that work in 1989 and has since died.

Now, Allen Seacrist has left the city's employment and while city officials say they do not know who will take his place, Seacrist does not have a relative looking to take his place.

"It is going to be a little strange not to have a Seacrist at the golf course," Hagerstown Mayor William M. Breichner said Thursday.

As greenskeeper, Seacrist was in charge of course maintenance, with work including mowing land, spraying for bugs and cleaning.

Until about two years ago, Seacrist even lived next to the golf course in an apartment rented by the city of Hagerstown above the golf course office.

"He has been very dedicated to the golf course. He has been a fixture in managing and maintaining the course," City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said.

James Seacrist was working as a greenskeeper at a golf course in Martinsburg, W.Va, in 1953. He arranged with the then-Hagerstown groundskeeper to switch jobs. Allen Seacrist also worked at the Hagerstown course.

During some of that time, he also used the course to make some spare change as he and friends gambled while golfing, he said.

They would each chip in about 15 to 25 cents per hole, he said. On a good day, he would make $15 to $20, he said

Then his father, a well-liked man, died and things changed.

Golfers helped him through the difficult transition by not just providing emotional support but also physical support by cleaning balls, picking up trash and doing other work, he said.

"They took me under their wing," he said. "That was the respect golfers had for (his father). There is not a day that goes by that I do not think of him."

Over time, Allen Seacrist began to play golf less often. While he would still play when he would go to meetings elsewhere with other greenskeepers, he rarely played the Hagerstown course for fun anymore, he said.

About 98 percent of the people he dealt with were nice and friendly, he said.

"I am going to miss the public and the work," he said. "I loved the work. You are outside and it is healthy and most people were nice," he said.

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