Get To Know: Lucas Schroder, Construction Manager
Lucas Schroder calls it a "sickness." Building a golf course from scratch may feel like a two-year marathon, but once you complete the mission? Once you finish that 10,000 piece jigsaw puzzle?
You can't wait to do it again.
Schroder, a general superintendent for Landscapes Unlimited's world-class construction team, has dirtied his hands at golf courses from Northern California to the Nebraska Sandhills to a famous club in Georgia, where the azaleas and dogwoods sparkle in the spring.
For the next two years, his home turf is Sioux Falls. He'll help lead Mapletøn's construction. The Nebraska native is excited by LU's next big project.
"The horizon lines here are amazing," Schroder said.
In late-October, Landscapes broke ground and started pushing dirt near the future clubhouse, hoping to complete a couple holes and "get everybody fired up." But with the mild weather, Landscapes got a significant headstart on 2024.
"We never thought we'd work this long," Schroder said.
In addition to completing No. 10 and 18, Landscapes has made significant progress on No. 9 and 11. They've also stripped topsoil on 8, 12 and 17. It's a big boost going into 2024.
The shaping process is tedious but fascinating to watch. Through technology, Schroder's team can apply architect Scott Hoffman's grading plan and analyze elevations and slopes down to the inch. Where the dirt is and where it needs to go.
Scrapers move dirt long distances. For short distances, the bulldozers do the work. Parts of the Mapleton site look flat now, Schroder said, but they won't be flat a year from now.
"The thing I'm most excited about is to see Scott's vision for 2, 3 and 4," Schroder said. "That's what will blow everybody's mind when they realize it was a flat bean field. When he's done, it's gonna be impressive."
Schroder never imagined he'd build golf courses for a living. Growing up outside of Lincoln, he worked maintenance at a local course. Schroder spent 10 years at Woodland Hills, moving up to assistant golf pro. At 25, he started re-thinking his career.
Bartending in the offseasons, he discovered Landscapes Unlimited. A few weeks after an interview in 2011, he headed to South Dakota to help build Sutton Bay. Schroder didn't know the first thing about construction. During the interview, he may have slightly overstated his ability to operate equipment.
"I had to figure it out."
Schroder spent a few months digging ditches and staying at the State Motel in Pierre. When winter arrived, Landscapes sent Schroder to Georgia, where LU frequently does work.
The nomadic life wasn't easy; Schroder was newly married. But his wife supported his passion and Schroder slowly became an expert. After a series of renovations, his first new construction — start to finish — was CapRock Ranch, recently named America's best new private club.
"I've been blessed to get paid to go around the country. There aren't many places better than out in the Sandhills."
Even though the construction procedure might be the same, every project is so different. For a course in California, for instance, the environmental hurdles are significant. In other places, weather is the challenge.
"Look at Lost Rail," Schroder said. "Everybody's having the time of their life and then we get hit with three rainstorms and we're rebuilding 3-4 holes three or four times. The guys start getting down because they're like, 'Gosh, we've already done this twice.' Are we ever gonna get past this?"
The 38-year-old superintendent, quick with a belly laugh, enjoys team-building and problem-solving. Something as simple as using a new piece of equipment to efficiently construct a bunker. He loves getting to the end, looking back and knowing his team built something that will last.
"I've done a lot of renovations, but the Lost Rails, the CapRocks, the Sutton Bays, those are really, really special just because it was nothing when you got there."
Right now, LU has seven workers at Mapletøn. Two dozers and three tractors. At full speed in 2024, Landscapes will have 65 workers! Schroder will be one of multiple superintendents on site.
So far, the team is ahead of schedule thanks to a late fall in South Dakota. Schroder isn't getting cocky yet. Mother Nature won't always be so kind.
"If I'm going to be there, it's going to rain, OK? Just plan on it."