29 April 2024

From trolleys to tractors, Weipa golfing community celebrates greenkeeper Tom

| Lyndon Keane
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Well-known Weipa identity Tom Lankester has swapped supermarket aisles for fairways after completing his greenkeeping apprenticeship at Carpentaria Golf Club. Photo: Supplied.

He might be more readily recognisable to long-term Weipa residents in a Woolworths uniform, but Tom Lankester has swapped the supermarket for the carefully manicured greens and fairways of the golf course.

Tom, the Carpentaria Golf Club family and greater Weipa community are celebrating the completion of his greenkeeping apprenticeship, which started with a leap into the unknown during the midst of COVID-19 in 2021.

He told Cape York Weekly the global pandemic had presented a bumpy start to his apprenticeship, but that he was incredibly proud to have reached the finish line and obtained his qualification.

“Well, I’m glad that COVID didn’t unravel things too much for me,” he explained.

“I thought there might have been a few hiccups along the way, because some of the courses I had to do were closed.”

With potential hiccups in the rear-view mirror and a bright career as a greenkeeper ahead of him, Tom said he loved living close to the course he was now responsible for, adding having an open air office was one of his favourite elements of the job.

“It’s great,” he said.

“I basically live on the golf course, and I get to walk to work every morning and do a job I want to do.”

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After substituting trolleys for a tractor and aisles for fairways, Tom said he enjoyed being recognised by former colleagues and shoppers each time he returned to the supermarket as a customer.

“Everyone knows your name, and I have to go back to Woolies, because it’s the only shop in town,” he said.

“A lot of people do remember me, which is really nice.”

Course supervisor Steven Jensen said Tom’s dedication to his apprenticeship meant he was able to sign off on his qualification almost six months ahead of the usual three-year indenture period.

“He’s struggled through it, but he got there in the end, which is the main thing,” Mr Jensen said.

“He’s a quiet, loyal young bloke, and he’s going to be a big asset for the club in the future.

“Tom, obviously, was working at Woolies when I put him on, and he seemed like a nice young fella, so I gave him the opportunity.”

Ahead of presenting his first course as a qualified greenkeeper for the 2024 Weipa Goodline Open this weekend, Tom said he hoped competitors would be impressed with what they saw.

“I honestly hope that they appreciate it, because we’ve had quite a few busy weeks preparing it,” he reflected.

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