In his two-volume work, author Mark Leslie introduces readers first to the design aspect of the game in “Putting a Little Spin on It: The Design’s the Thing!” by exploring the landscape architecture behind golf courses.

In his second book, “Putting a Spin on It: The Grooming’s the Thing!”, Leslie goes beyond the engineering and mechanics of the course to reveal how grooming can make or break a golf course.

“The golf industry is just a lot of fun,” Leslie said, adding that any day at the golf course is better than a day at work.

Leslie, of Monmouth, said that although he grew up playing golf, he never gave a thought as to how the course got there in the first place.

Having the opportunity to interview some of golf’s greats, Leslie said that many masters of the sport, as they became less active in competition, turned to designing courses.

In his books, Leslie shares interviews with the likes of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Ben Crenshaw, who went on to become golf architects.

“Crenshaw had just won the Masters and I gave him a call,” Leslie said, and Crenshaw’s response was: “The phone’s been ringing off the hook — they want me to design golf courses!”

It’s in the magic of what a professional like Palmer can do when he sees 150 acres. “I look out, I see a pile of dirt,” Leslie said. “Landscape architects see it quite different.”

“What I want to do is give people an idea of what goes through these guy’s minds,” Leslie said.

Attending gatherings of the American Society of Golf Course Architects, Leslie said he had the unique opportunity of being the only journalist in the crowd.

The society meets every fifth year to play a series of great courses. Playing beside them, Leslie said, sheds light on “why they did this or that in a course design.”

Not to give all the credit for great courses to the architects, Leslie said, “Ask folks who pay the freight — that is, the golfers — and the survey says: If it’s an extraordinary design but kept in lousy condition, we’ll trip on down the road and play the not-so-great design that is beautifully manicured.”

Leslie said his friend and course designer Kyle Phillips said the architect is the mother and gives birth to the course while the superintendents are the nannies.

While many people in America have come to know course superintendents through characters like Bill Murray’s Carl in “Caddyshack,” Leslie is quick to point out that at some private courses superintendents can often be found in a suit and tie.

Leslie said superintendents receive a turf grass degree, often through schools such as Penn State, U Mass and Texas A&M.

As for the number of boots on the turf on a given day, Leslie said a course like Martindale in Auburn may have around eight people working the turf in season while some private clubs may have as many as 20.

In purely Maine terms, he said Belgrade Lakes Golf Club would have more grounds workers than Springbrook in Leeds.

In his book, “The Grooming’s the Thing!” Leslie describes superintendents as a close community that can, at the same time, compete with and support each other for the betterment of their profession.

In a case of high tech meets low tech, Leslie describes the methods of Springbrook Golf Club owner and General Manager Joe Golden.

“While superintendents around the country enthuse about their latest irrigation systems — ones that can be controlled from outer space, perform miracles normally reserved for God and ultimately cover every inch of turf you want covered, but not a square-inch less or millimeter more — Joe treks out to his 1968 American LaFrance fire engine in the middle of the night armed with a wristwatch and a starter key.”

Golden, a former fire engine salesman, boasts of being able to water the 6,800-yard course over 200 acres in just 15 to 25 minutes.

Of course, it takes a lot more than water to have a successful course. Much more is laid down, making concerns for the environment an issue.

Leslie quotes golf course architect Ed Seay saying, “We’re getting so high tech in soil now that dirt’s no longer dirt.”

It is the soil that may be the paydirt for superintendents. In Leslie’s books, he points to the glory of the green thumbs as well as those who undeservedly see career-ending assaults from Mother Nature.

He relates a story of traveling with superintendent Dick Fahey at Poland Spring Golf Course and noticing the presence of grass growing in the pittance of dirt accumulated around his pickup truck vents.

Leslie describes science-inspired pest control and the move away from a purely chemical approach. Ants that attack cutworms and grubs wage a silent war on the turf, while dragonflies patrol the skies to cut down on mosquitoes and water features are stocked with mosquitofish.

Other predatory friends of the turf include the purple martin, tree swallows and bats.

And what about Caddyshack icon Carl? Have subsequent generations improved upon gopher termination?

Leslie writes about the inventor and genius who wields “The Gopheneator,” which includes a high-pressure dose of propane and oxygen, followed by touching off the ignition.

Leslie’s stories have a little something for everyone, whether they spend the occasional weekend swatting around their local municipal course or whether they’ve just come off tour.

In one story, Leslie explains the advent of golf in the late Cold War Soviet empire. According to Leslie, Red Army soldiers were given rudimentary instruction in golf as the first golf course was christened.

On the course, Leslie said Mikhail Gorbachev’s wife, Raisa, asked how golfers were supposed to throw the little ball across the water hazard.

In Russia, Leslie said you didn’t know whether to duck, drink or hit the ball.

“Golf is a great sport,” Leslie said, “and a lifetime sport.” Leslie said that after reading the “Putting a Spin on It” books, “Every golfer will be driving down the street and see a field and see it in a different way.”

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