Turf & Rec

Features Profiles
These superintendents really are ‘super’


February 11, 2013
By Mike Jiggens


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Sometimes I think it would be fascinating to be able to get into the
heads of golf superintendents who are preparing their courses for PGA
Tour events. In only the past few months, I’ve heard from two such
individuals who, respectively, played host to a U.S. Open and a Ryder
Cup event.

These guys must go through a complete spectrum of emotions, from the day they learned their course has been awarded the event to the day the final putt landed at the bottom of the cup on the 18th hole on the event’s last day.

No doubt an overwhelming feeling of pride is the first such emotion experienced. It would be a feather in anyone’s cap to have included U.S. Open or Ryder Cup host superintendent on his resume. But as the few years of advance notice begin to dwindle into months and then weeks before opening day of the event arrives, other emotions must surely come to the fore.

Golf superintendents, no matter how many years of experience they may have under their belts, are still human beings, and nerves must surface at some point along the way. If the weather forecast for tournament week looks “iffy,” does that mean some sleepness nights for these people? Are the demands of the Tour so stringent that their stress levels have significantly increased?

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John Zimmers, superintendent at Oakmont Country Club in Pennsylvania, spoke about his experiences with the 2007 U.S. Open at November’s Ontario Seed Company/Nutrite professional turfgrass seminar (see page 6), noting the challenges he faced then and will face again in 2016 when the tournament returns to Oakmont. And in late January, Curtis Tyrell, superintendent at Illinois’ Medinah Country Club, spoke at the Canadian International Turfgrass Conference and Trade Show, about his involvement with last year’s Ryder Cup tournament (to appear in the March issue of Turf & Recreation).

Both successfully accomplished the task at hand, excelling in both their agronomic know-how and their ability to lead a small army of volunteers to get the job done. Getting through these types of events must take nerves of steel and a drive that is off the charts. It’s no coincidence that the cream of the crop of superintendents manage to gravitate to the golf courses best suited for such events as a U.S. Open or a Ryder Cup.

Those same types of superintendents exist here in Canada as well. Anyone who has ever served as host for a Canadian Open or a President’s Cup tournament is at the top of his game.

No doubt that once such as tournament has run its course, these superintendents are breathing a huge sigh of relief and welcome a return to their regular routine. Whether or not they’d want a steady dose of having to prepare for the same event year after year is another matter. That would take a special individual to be able to endure such a monumental task.

In keeping with the water and irrigation theme for this issue, we present three stories which deal in different ways with the precious commodity that is water. With lengthy periords of summer drought becoming more the norm anymore, the need for water is greater than ever before. But with resources dwindling, waste can no longer be tolerated and we must learn to do more with less.

This concern applies to all sectors of the industry. Golf courses may have to learn to deal with browner fairways for awhile and homeowners may have to take shorter showers and do fewer yet larger loads of laundry if they still wish to have some water left over for their lawns.