A famous Golf architect was once asked how he was going to fulfill his grandiose promises for a new course. "With lots of money and Mexicans," he replied. Mexicans, in fact, are the backbone of the golf construction business in the U.S. and make up about 80% of the labor force on all course projects. "We're used to working hard," says Martin Rosas (above), a trackhoe operator for MacCurrach Golf of Jacksonville.
Rosas, 34, grew up on a farm in Cortazar, in central Mexico. He left home when he was 16, working sporadically in the U.S. before catching on, in 1989, with architect Pete Dye's Ocean Course team on Kiawah Island, S.C. Rosas has helped build courses throughout the U.S., returning to Cortazar twice a year to be with his wife and three children. "He's one of the best hoe operators in the country," says Florida project manager Tom Weber. "He gives these bunkers a look that the dozers can't." On this job, architect Bobby Weed instructed Rosas to tilt the bottoms of the bunkers up toward the green and to keep them flat on the low side to avoid downhill lies. "Bobby wants to make them a little concave," Rosas says, "flashing the sand up so you can see it from the tee."
Rosas reported to work late one recent morning but was greeted with hugs. That's because he had come from the Jacksonville Immigration and Naturalization Service office, where he was told that within 90 days he would be sworn in as a U.S. citizen. "It's like a dream," Rosas says, smiling broadly.