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Part-timer has full-time impact at Jack Tone
Hector Pelayo, 36, is the only mechanic at Jack Tone Golf Course. He is a part-time employee, getting less than 10 hours a week, but hes had a full-time impact. - photo by James Burns

Tim Buzzini is in the business of fixing golf handicaps.

Not planes, trains or automobiles.

So when it came time for the co-owner of the Jack Tone Golf Course to find a mechanic, he tailored his search to fit his needs.

Buzzini needed someone who understood golf-specific machinery and lawn care, and he needed that person on a budget.

 “We knew that we needed a high-quality mechanic,” said Buzzini, who also manages the 3,715-yard, 18-hole course at the end of Jack Tone Road.

“We’re a smaller facility, so our needs aren’t as great. It’s hard to get a full-time person because we don’t have the work to bring on a full-time person. When Hector came to us, it was just perfect.”

Hector Pelayo, 36, arrived on recommendation from George Guerra, an assistant superintendent at Spring Creek Country Club.

Pelayo, a Modesto native, has worked as a full-time mechanic at the Dublin Ranch Golf Course for the last 11 years. He joined the staff at Jack Tone Golf Course on a part-time basis in June.

His day typically begins at 5:30 a.m. in the hills above the East Bay, and he won’t arrive at Jack Tone till 3 o’clock in the afternoon.

Surprisingly, for a man that spends so much time on the links, Pelayo knows very little about the game.

“I don’t play,” he said. “I just fix the machines. I enjoy the work.”

So simple and understated, yet Pelayo’s been an unsung hero in Buzzini’s business model.

Until now.

Buzzini sang his praises on Monday, as spring-like conditions drew golfers out of hibernation.

“His role is integral,” Buzzini said. “Having proper equipment is key to the quality of a golf course.”

Pelayo’s hours are tied to the work. He stays only as long as it takes to get the course’s machinery operational.

He says he’s currently working about six hours a week at Jack Tone, servicing five mowers, tractors, a fleet of golf carts and the course’s other equipment.

Machines that don’t require new parts are often operational again by close of business, Buzzini said. Those that require a part may be down one or two days, depending on the severity of the repair.

Pelayo pays special attention to the mowers’ blades and the height they’re set at, ensuring each area of the course receives a proper cut.

His impact has been felt on the greens, where many of the regulars have raved about the speed and cut. The greens haven’t been stimped in a few years, says Buzzini, but he believes they’re rolling at 9 or 10 feet.

“In this last year, since he’s been on board, there have been nothing but good comments about the conditions, in particular the greens,” Buzzini said.

While compliments are most often shared with the front-counter staff, Buzzini knows the kind words belong to the part-time Mr. Fix It in the back shop.

“You have to have a mechanic, whether part time or full time. They’re integral,” Buzzini said. “Just like a farmer, if you don’t have a tractor or a harvester, you can’t farm. And if it breaks down, you’re costing yourself money.

“If we can’t mow or use a piece of equipment to fertilize, it’s going to affect the product. You need a mechanic and good ones are hard to come by, so when you find one you really appreciate it.”