By Mike Jiggens
Golf Canada has made available the transcript of an interview with Wade Peckham, superintendent at Edmonton's Royal Mayfair Golf Club, which was the site for the 2013 CN Canadian Women's Open on the LPGA Tour, played Aug. 22-25.
THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, thanks for joining us in the media room for our annual presentation from the Canadian Golf Superintendents Association. Very proud to introduce Mr. Keith Blayney, superintendent with the Edmonton Petroleum Golf and Country Club to make a special presentation to our host club superintendent.
KEITH BLAYNEY: The Canadian Golf Superintendents Association represents almost 1,400 individuals involved in the profession of golf course management. The CGSA provides education, certification and representation to its member superintendents, providing them with the latest tools and techniques to assist with consistent course conditioning, environmental protection, and over 50 core competencies identified in the National Occupational Standards For Superintendents required in the operation of golf facilities.
Part of the ongoing effort to recognize the importance of the superintendents of the golf course involves a presentation of a national tournament plaque to members that host these prestigious events.
The individual we are about to recognize is the superintendent of the Royal Mayfair Golf Club, who has 22 years' experience in the industry and has been a member of the CGSA since 1990.
The CN Canadian Women's Open is one of our tournaments, and it is my pleasure to call upon Wade Peckham of the Royal Mayfair Golf Club to accept this CGSA national tournament award.
KEITH BLAYNEY: Maybe a few words on behalf of the whole team, about accepting this award, the whole experience of being the host superintendent. Share some thoughts with us.
WADE PECKHAM: Sure. First of all, I'm very honored to accept this award, and I accept it on behalf of the Royal Mayfair Golf Club but especially my turf care team and the volunteers that have helped out in the last week.
I was talking to someone else, and I'm like a coach. I'm here to guide the staff, but they're the ones that make me look good, from my assistants, Eric Mitskopoulos and David Smith, all the way down to our summer students that only have three months' experience. I owe them everything.
You can't do this job without great people behind you. I tried once, and it'll drive you crazy. I appreciate all the support I've gotten from Golf Canada, from the LPGA and especially some special gentlemen, my general manager, Wade Hudyma; head pro Robb James; Kevin McKee and Don McGarvey. They've just been wonderful and very supportive.
I don't know what was to say other than the fact that I'm glad this tournament is started, and I'll be real happy on Sunday afternoon. It's been the highlight of my career, and I promised my staff I'd drop some names, so I think Eric and Dave will be happy. I'm glad they were here with me. It'll mean a lot to them in their career. So thank you.
THE MODERATOR: As you prepare for a national championship, tell us from your perspective what goes into it sort of in the longâ€‘term, media, shortâ€‘term and obviously leading up to this week. It's a crazy period for you, but how far back does preparation go?
WADE PECKHAM: Well, normally it would probably go a little farther â€‘â€‘ probably only had a year's heads up on this, and before that we had spent upwards of two and a half million, $ 3 million renovating the golf course, so 2010 fall, we had started a lot of work on the golf course, improved the bunkers and some architectural work, so we've been through a lot in the last two years, and I think it improved â€‘â€‘ I know it improved the golf course to the point where we could host a championship like this, and then we were â€‘â€‘ it was announced we were going to have it.
But we had already set in place some good agronomic practices to â€‘â€‘ it's for the membership, but I think this just so happens that having a tournament, it all went together. Medium: Maybe a year out, we started just changing a few things that the LPGA wanted us to deal with, fairways, but not much. It was our normal practices. We then implemented some other turf care practices, let's say, that has helped for the week or two out before the tournament.
In the shortâ€‘term, it's basically just fine tuning the staff. I think making sure the staff understand what is coming, and once the equipment started to roll in and the suites started to go up and Eric and I and Dave started to get a little more uptight, they figured out that this was for real.
Once everything was all set up, I've used it a lot. They bought into the program. The last week we basically haven't had to do anything. They're in a routine. We just keep an eye on them, put out fires, and I think they're enjoying it, too, and it's just â€‘â€‘ it was difficult a week ago. It's getting easier as we go. The only thing I'm worried about now is weather and whether the course will be alive on Monday for the members.
THE MODERATOR: Karrie Webb in an interview yesterday, and I'll quote it, said that "Royal Mayfair is the best conditioned course" she's "played on this year." Obviously she's someone who's a senior member and star with a LPGA Tour. What does it mean to get an accolade like that from the world's best?
WADE PECKHAM: Well, right off the start, I hear it, and I'm like, okay, settle down. We still have three days to go. So I think on Sunday when I reread that quote, I'll be a happy guy.
I'm very â€‘â€‘ I know she's been around a long time. She's played here before. She's one of the most respected members on the LPGA Tour. I'm cautious when I hear it, but it makes me very proud of the entire facility, and as I said before, my turf care team.
Q. I think I speak for the entire membership of Royal Mayfair along with the organizing committee, my leadership team, the staff, just how proud we are of Wade and his team. We see it every morning. We see it every night just what they give. They give blood to their trade, and please enjoy the week, Wade, because it's special, real special.
WADE PECKHAM: Thank you. I appreciate that. I think what you'll see maybe Sunday night at the maintenance facility is I might let it down a bit. We get there, I'm going to be â€‘â€‘ I have a trailer rented, and I'm not going home.
THE MODERATOR: I just want to thank you from Golf Canada's side and all the suppliers. You have been one of the best superintendents we've had to deal with during setup.
WADE PECKHAM: I really appreciate it, thank you.
THE MODERATOR: You're accommodating in every way. You know we're coming in, we're here on your course, but you worked with us with everything, and we really appreciate it.
WADE PECKHAM: Thanks, Chris. You guys are fun. I have a good time with you, honestly.
Q. Wade, what specific issues do you need to deal with as a course superintendent in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, say as opposed to California or Florida or something like that?
WADE PECKHAM: Well, the obvious one is winter, coming out in the spring alive, and after that â€‘â€‘ our summers are not too difficult here compared to what I hear about in the rest of â€‘â€‘ it's pretty temperate. It can get dry here, but this year has been a little unique. We typically get enough rain, but all the rain seemed to come in seven heavy downpours that wiped out the golf course. So that was a challenge for this year was rebuilding the golf course. The bunkers were washing out. I'd lost count how many times our 77 bunkers or whatever we have were washed out, and that takes a toll on a staff, eight hours of everybody out there pushing it back. Keith knows what I'm talking about. So just to have them do that, I think that's the biggest challenge is getting through those dramatic weather events, and then winter comes around again, and it's just preparation for winter, and a lot of intense play in a short period of time. So that's pretty much it.