Golf Course Management

JUN 2019

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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42 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 06.19 Top: The current full-time mainte- nance staff at Pebble Beach stands at 31 strong, and will be augmented by countless volunteers when the U.S. Open rolls into town this month. Bottom: Crews tend to the 18th hole at Pebble Beach, and the renowned surroundings are not lost on those who tackle that work. "It's Pebble Beach," says crew member Hector Mejia. "Who doesn't want to be at Pebble Beach?" when Mother Nature is flexing on you and letting you know she's still in charge. But everybody kept their cool, stayed calm and knew they were going to work longer and harder and do the best they could under the circumstances." A dependable, seasoned staff at Pebble Beach includes irrigation tech Mark •omas, whose top priority is moisture management when he isn't doubling as tournament coor- dinator, acting as a liaison to vendors' needs. Sixty-year-old spray tech Rick Pieper has seen plenty at Pebble Beach, his employer since 1977. His father has deeper roots there; in the 1940s, Ernest Pieper won two Califor- nia state amateurs at Pebble Beach. "You get up in the morning and look for- ward to coming in. We're going to have fun. It may be at somebody's expense, but you're going to have some fun," Pieper says. "It's a lot of pressure, but we keep things loose. We're around customers who want to be here, are happy to be here, and that makes it special to us." Before he arrived in 1993, Mejia spent his days picking strawberries, cauliflower and broccoli in the fields of Salinas Valley. He left that job to come work on a golf course and found his niche. "To me, it's my second family," Mejia says, "and it's Pebble Beach. Who doesn't want to be at Pebble Beach?" Keeping his crew refreshed isn't some- thing Dalhamer takes for granted. "Some- times it's hard, obviously. You get tired, but you've got to figure out ways. I think we work hard to keep them excited, whether it's a barbecue or a team morale-building event like bowling, things they enjoy doing," says Dalhamer, who with his wife of 20 years, Di - onne, has three daughters — Stephanie, Al- exandra and Ashley. "•at's critical to keep them excited and enthusiastic about work." •e assistant-in-training program is in- grained at Pebble Beach, and Michael Knoll has been part of it for three years. Asked how he stays refreshed, Knoll perked up. "I adore what I do. I'm working at a place where the whole world is looking at you. I love it," Knoll says. When Knoll and his mates prepped for the U.S. Amateur, it also served as a trial for the U.S. Open, which is the first at Pebble Beach since 2010. Since that time, four greens (Nos. 9, 13, 14 and 17) have been rebuilt. Darin Bevard, director of champi- onship agronomy for the USGA, has built a relationship with Dalhamer. "He really understands the need to bal- ance the Pebble Beach Co.'s needs and the needs of those who are guests for various events. And it doesn't hurt to have a really nice environment to grow grass in most re- spects," says Bevard, noting how the course is recovering nicely from harsh storms and saltwater that caused thinning of ryegrass fairways. "He's just a great dude that holds it all together. He wants it to be the best it can be for whatever he has there. It takes a special person not to get beaten down over and over again. He seems to embrace it. For sure, he doesn't get bored there." •at's no lie. And, after the U.S. Open, it will be only a few months until the PGA Tour Champions event returns. So, at a revered location where Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer left their spike marks, Dal - hamer and his bunch will continue to make their mark on the busy and picturesque spot that, especially now, brings new meaning to high maintenance. "You watch your golf course get beat up, put it back together, see it get beat up again," Dalhamer says. "•e repetition of that can be a challenge, but I think it's one of those challenges we're all up for and enjoy doing." Howard Richman (hrichman@gcsaa.org) is GCM 's associate editor.

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