Golf Course Management

APR 2013

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

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der-par 70 during the fnal round, while Scott Fogg, an international GCSAA member from Queenbeyan Golf Club in Australia, carded a 71 on Tuesday. A simple change to his putting stance had led to a signifcant improvement in Costello's golf game as he headed into the 2013 GCSAA National Championship. "I'd been putting and playing the best golf of my life the last couple of weeks before the event," he says. That didn't seem likely as the National Championship turned toward its fnal nine holes. Following his opening-round 1-overpar 73 that had left him tied for the lead with two others (Jim Torba, the Class A superintendent at Wilderness Country Club in Naples, Fla., and Bryce Koch, the Class A superintendent at Cypress Lake Country Club, also in Naples), Costello continued to shine on the frst nine holes of his fnal round. His even-par 36 gave him a one-shot lead at the turn. One hole later, the lead had grown to two shots thanks to missteps from his closest competitors. "I was incredibly nervous the frst nine holes of the tournament, much more so than I usually am," Costello admits. "But none of that carried over to Tuesday. I was unbelievably calm the whole day. I really don't know why, but I was just never nervous or worked up during the fnal round — just focused on what I need to do." He gave one of those shots back on the par-4 14th hole — with the tees pushed up, Costello attempted to drive the green, but ended up in the rough on the left side of the green and had to settle for a bogey — but as he climbed the 18th tee, Costello still led by a shot over one of his playing partners, David Buckles, and two other competitors playing in other groups (more on them later). Costello played his frst two shots per86 GCM April 2013 fectly; a booming drive down the left side of the fairway that left him 220 yards to the center of the green, then the lay-up to within 90 yards of the putting surface. Buckles, the Class A superintendent at Carmel Mountain Ranch in nearby El Cajon, Calif., followed suit, but where Costello's third ended up wet, Buckles' landed comfortably behind the hole on the back of the green. If Buckles could two-putt from that position, he and Costello would square off in a playoff. Unfortunately for the 27-year GCSAA member, he couldn't. Facing the prospect of having to match Costello's miraculous second wedge shot with an equally impressive putt of his own, Buckles' frst putt rolled several feet past the hole. Now needing to make the comeback putt to force extra golf, the short second putt slid just past the hole. Buckles did win the senior division crown with his two-day total of 2-over-par 148, but the big prize that has eluded the perennial National Championship contender went to Costello. Buckles shared runner-up status with the two previously mentioned players, who both charged up the leaderboard on day two with the only sub-par rounds of the tournament. Michael Stieler, CGCS, the 2012 champion, who is from Riverbend Golf Club in Madera, Calif., fred a 2-un- An unexpected performance In a feld flled with scratch golfers, former tournament champions and perennial contenders, Costello was an unlikely candidate to raise the trophy when the event began. He carried a handicap index of just 3.9 into the tournament — a dream come true for some, but not normally one associated with the top of the leaderboard at the GCSAA National Championship — but there had been a few signs that something remarkable might be in the offng. The frst was a tip he received from a teaching pro that he plays with in a regular game at Phoenix Country Club. Not giving away exactly what the tip was, Costello says, "I tried what he suggested on the practice range, but it didn't really work. I fled it away and messed with it a few rounds later, and something really clicked. I really started hitting the ball much more solidly, much more consistently." The second revelation came on the putting green, courtesy of a sand wedge that has always been a constant companion in Costello's cart when he's on the job. "I use it to chip, putt, test green speeds when I'm out on the course," he says. "I've battled the yips for the past few years when I'm actually playing, but I never have that problem with the sand wedge. I even started using it to putt occasionally when I played, and had been looking for a putter that looked like Indiana superintendent cards tournament ace The 2013 GCSAA Golf Championships will be one to remember for Matt Cielen. The GCSAA Class A superintendent at Warren Golf Course in Notre Dame, Ind., recorded a hole-in-one during play in the second fight of the GCSAA Golf Classic. The 12-year member of the association aced the 122-yard, par-3 third hole at Aviara Golf Club and, in the process, won round-trip airline tickets. Cielen fnished tied for ninth in the gross competition of the second fight.

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