Golf Course Management

SEP 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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Muirfeld Village's owner/designer Jack Nicklaus (far left) reviews changes that have been made to the course in advance of the 2013 Presidents Cup with director of grounds operations Paul B. Latshaw, CGCS (second from right), and Muirfeld superintendent Lucas Lownes (far right). Also pictured is Chris Cochran of Nicklaus Design (behind Nicklaus). Photos courtesy of Muirfeld Village Forgive Paul B. Latshaw, CGCS, if he didn't get much sleep these past six months. You see, the director of grounds operations at Muirfeld Village in Dublin, Ohio, has been feeling the pressure to prepare the home that Jack Nicklaus built for not just one, but two PGA Tour-sponsored events in the same year. Come October, Muirfeld plays host to the 2013 Presidents Cup, just fve months removed from hosting the annual Memorial Tournament. Added pressure? Sure. Sleep deprivation? You bet. But Latshaw takes it all in stride. The 47-year-old is no stranger to prepping golf courses for big-time tournaments. He arrived at Muirfeld in 2004 from Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, N.Y., where he prepped that classic Donald Ross design for the 2003 PGA Championship. This past August, his good friend and former assistant, Jeff Corcoran, repeated that task when the year's fnal golf major returned to Rochester. Before his tenure at Oak Hill, Latshaw spent seven years at Merion Golf Club (1992-98). So, while grooming courses for major events is old hat for Latshaw, hosting two professional golf events in less than six months is a frst, even for this seasoned superintendent. When it rains … Latshaw knows too well that things don't always go as planned in golf course management. Just a few weeks removed from Matt Kuchar's win at a rain- and weather-plagued Memorial Tournament and a quick visit to see his good friend Matt Shaffer, Merion's director of golf course management, during the week of the U.S. Open, Latshaw's computer crashed. While disconcerting, his IT emergency was the least of his worries. Prepping Muirfeld for the Presidents Cup was top of mind. The course setup for this huge international competition will be very similar to what is done each year for The Memorial Tournament. The only difference is that there will be more spectator areas and corporate tents, especially on the back nine. "Everything is heavily weighted 11 through 16 since the Presidents Cup is match play," the 26-year GCSAA member says. "The last two holes are very demanding. No. 16 was remodeled two years ago in preparation for this event. It was realigned so there would be more space for the gallery and all the tents on 15 and 16." The green speeds will be the same — as Nicklaus loves them frm and fast — and the rough might not be as thick, to create more excitement. The only other setup change Latshaw can see is moving the tee forward on No. 14 to encourage some players to go for the green on that hole. 58 GCM September 2013 When asked about how prepping for this international event differs from a regular PGA Tour stop, Latshaw says besides the size, it's Mother Nature and the unpredictability of fall weather. "There is always the potential threat for a frost in early October," he says. "There is also going to be . . . the likelihood of having to remove debris as leaves start falling off the trees." The one difference Latshaw hopes he and his crew of staff and volunteers can use to their advantage is the fact that tee times for a Presidents Cup typically don't begin until later in the morning. "That should allow us a lot of extra time in the morning to prepare the golf course as long as the weather cooperates. I'm optimistic it will since September and October are usually our drier months," he says. Latshaw explains that the luxury of having an event like the Memorial every year is the opportunity it provides to tweak your agronomic programs year-to-year, learning from any mistakes you made in the past and focusing your energies on things you want to refne. "Ultimately, you are always at the mercy of the weather," he says. Setup challenges As far as the setup, Latshaw mainly takes his cues from Nicklaus and PGA Tour agronomist Paul Vermeulen, who talks to Latshaw frequently. The veteran director of tournament agronomy spent two weeks at Muirfeld in early June during the Memorial and returned to Dublin in August. Leading up to the Presidents Cup in October, the pair has been in close contact. Vermeulen has no worries that Latshaw is up to the task. "The track record for Muirfeld Village since Paul started as superintendent has been almost blemish-free," says Vermeulen. "He has put together a rock-solid agronomic plan from the frst day of the year to the last day of the year, and not surprisingly, the conditions of the greens under his direction have been absolutely wonderful. "That's why it's so comforting to work with a guy like Paul," he adds. "You can trust if there is challenging weather in the forecast, he is not going to do something that would topple the condition of the grass. He is not going to dry the greens out at the wrong time; he's not going to mow at the wrong time, etc. That speaks to his experience, his background and education,

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