LOUDONVILLE – Trent Kaufmann has a special relationship with Shaker Ridge Country Club, one of the Capital Area’s premier private facilities located across from the Albany International Airport.
The 51-year-old “Director of Golf Operations” is considered part of the Shaker Ridge CC family, and why not? Kaufmann has been associated with the club for 41 years in various capacities, and he’s considered an extremely valuable member of the staff, led by new head pro Mark Jorgensen and including course superintendent Jim Seaman and assistant pro John Andrews.
In an era when even longtime employees can’t be certain about job security, Kaufmann is treated like a brother. And the feeling is mutual.
When one of the Shaker Ridge CC members – or staff — needs the answer to a question, they ask Trent. If some odd job needs to be done, it’s Trent that gets it done. He coordinates tournaments, fills in at the pro shop, helps out on the grounds crew occasionally and even cleans up the driving range.
“You have to do it all in this business,” he said. “I fill in the gaps.”
The greatest example of how much Shaker Ridge members and employees appreciate Kaufmann is how they treated him during the extremely stressful time period when is wife, Kira, battled hepatitis-C and eventually required a liver transplant.
“It all started when my wife had a car accident,” Kaufmann explained. “She needed a transfusion after the accident, and it was tainted with hepatitis-C. It took a turn for the worse in 2014, when she learned she had liver sclerosis. Eventually, we knew she needed a transplant.”
SEARCH FOR ORGAN DONOR
Originally, Kira Kaufmann was being treated at both St. Peter’s Hospital here in Albany and at Mt. Sinai in New York City. She spent 200 days at St. Peter’s, and Kaufmann had to work around his work schedule to see his wife.
“I would work some hours here, go to the hospital, and then come back to the club to finish up with my scoring duties,” he said.
Eventually, Kira was able to rise to the top of the list for a liver transplant at Mt. Sinai, but when she contracted pneumonia, the surgery had to be postponed, and she dropped off the list.
“That’s when I decided to look into moving Kira to North Carolina, because there were a lot more available livers for transplants down there,” Kaufmann explained. “Sadly, in New York, there weren’t enough organ donors. Originally, our doctor didn’t feel it was necessary to move her to North Carolina, but he quickly changed his mind and felt it was the best option.”
Kaufmann quickly made arrangements to move his wife down south. It took only a few days to complete all the paperwork, and after a donor was found, the surgery was performed within a week of that decision.
“It went quickly once her pneumonia cleared up,” he said. But Kaufmann still had his job back at Shaker Ridge, and he didn’t want to let his employers down.
“I went back and forth to North Carolina 18 times during that stretch” he said. “I was fortunate to be there for the surgery which was one of my wife’s requests, but I had to go back and forth for my job. The club was extremely generous to me. They offered me a leave of absence, but I couldn’t in my own mind accept it.
“In this business, there is just too much work to do during the golf season. So I would work Saturday through Tuesday at the club, drive back down to North Carolina on Wednesday and Thursday, and then drive back up here on Friday.
“All the members stepped up and helped out during this time,” Kaufmann said. “People brought me food and helped me out with gas cards for my trips. The staff here helped out, as well. Everybody worked extra hours to cover me. It was very helpful. And I was very fortunate that my father lives in Charlotte, so I could stay with him every time I drove back down there. My brother helped out by taking care of my dog. I’m very lucky to have such a good support structure.”
Although his wife still struggles with a few medical issues, she is doing much better now. The couple celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary in June.
Kaufmann was born in DeKalb, IL, but his father, employed by General Electric, moved to Clifton Park when Trent was just 5. He attended Shenendehowa High School and Hudson Valley Community College.
But Kaufmann’s ties to Shaker Ridge CC began when he was an extremely young caddie at age 10. He eventually became the caddie master at age 16 and in 1985 took over from Jeff Kelley (current Titleist equipment rep) running the club’s tournaments. I started helping out Chas (former longtime Shaker Ridge CC head pro Chas Conrad) at the club. I worked with Chas for 39 years.”
Kaufmann became the Director of Golf Operations in 1985 and has helped out in numerous capacities ever since.
“My favorite job is running the tournaments,” he explained.
“I love setting up the flights, teams, pairings, scores and results. I do that for all the tournaments, and even the leagues. My most challenging duty in that regard is plugging in the 84 hole-by-hole scores for the 84 players in the Tuesday Night Men’s league. They all want their scores within a half hour so they can go home.”
WORKS UP TO 80 HOURS A WEEK
Kaufmann’s averages about 45-50 hours a week, but at times, he works as much as 80 hours in a week, depending on the season. “I would say my strength is running the computer, and doing all the scoring. I’m also very familiar with the rules, and I’m good at getting organized and putting things together. I try to make things easy for everyone to understand,” he said.
“There is no doubt that I feel like part of the family here. This whole club is like one big extended family.”
Shaker Ridge CC was established in 1929 as a private, member-owned club. It was originally designed by Jim Thompson and remodeled by Stephen Kay and Doug Smith. It has hosted numerous major events, including the Ellis Hospital Skins Game, the PGA Empire State Open and both the NYS Men’s Mid-Amateur and NYS Junior Championship.