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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which tower over most." The procedures Latshaw has followed the last couple of years getting the course in perfect condition for the Memorial are the same procedures he intends to follow in advance of the Presidents Cup. Vermeulen says it's a set of practices that produces a very predictable — and very good — set of results. "There is a detailed record of daily maintenance and daily playing conditions the week before and the week of the Memorial. Using that source of information, Paul can predict exactly what will happen if he double-cuts greens, if he double-cuts and rolls the greens, if he single-cuts, cuts at a particular mowing height," Vermeulen says. "He knows the end result because he has such great records from the tournament in the spring. There's nothing left to chance." A facelift on a deadline Of course, the one thing that Latshaw and his team couldn't practice for was squeezing in a few signifcant construction projects in the four months between the conclusion of the Memorial and the start of the Presidents Cup. The most notable of those was the construction of new tee boxes for the 18th hole to accommodate a new back tee that will add about 30 yards to that par-4 fnishing hole. In and of itself, the addition of that tee wasn't a major project. It was the chain reaction of other projects necessitated by that new tee that resulted in what Latshaw describes as "the third- or fourth-biggest project we've done since I've been here." To make room for the new tee, a spectator area for the 17th green needed to be recontoured. Two cart paths had to be moved. A new forward tee was also added while this work was being done. Some trees had to be removed and then replanted. Oh, and the entire area had to be regrassed with a new bentgrass mix during the middle of the summer. In early August, crews were still working on these areas, but Latshaw was confdent all of the work would be completed in plenty of time. Helping hand Like they are at other major events, volunteers are another key to the success of the Presidents Cup. Latshaw says when they arrive it's like "getting a shot in the arm." Finding and recruiting these extra bodies to 60 GCM September 2013 While hosting two professional events in the span of less than six months will be a challenge, the experience gained from hosting the annual Memorial Tournament should pay big dividends for Latshaw and his team during the Presidents Cup. Photo by Jim Mandeville pitch in during this international event was not a problem. The challenge is that with the college students who make up most of his regular summer staff returning to school, his core turf team is reduced by 25 percent in the fall. To fll this gap, Latshaw worked with Michigan State and its international exchange program to engage some interns from China. Closer to home, Ohio State's turf department also lent a hand. "Staffng is defnitely one of the biggest issues to make sure you have enough people," Latshaw says. "Once you have these volunteers, you also have to worry about the burnout factor. You can talk to a volunteer and tell him you are going to work 120 hours, and he says, 'No problem,' and then he is a walking zombie for two weeks." A lot of people who did not volunteer for the Memorial wanted to volunteer for the Presidents Cup since it's a bigger international event. "Every year for the Memorial we get guys from Oak Hill, Merion, etc.," Latshaw says. "It's great for guys to put on their résumé, and the networking that goes on is really cool. You have a bunch of guys that are working toward a common goal, working countless hours, the camaraderie. Anything they are asked is for one reason — to make the golf course the best it can possibly be for that one week for the golfers, the gallery and everyone else. It's always neat to see it come together." The stretch run As the event drew closer and closer, the greens at Muirfeld Village were the recipient of most of Latshaw's focus. But the rest of the layout also received attention, even though an annual August aerifcation that closes the property for four days was postponed for this year. "We obviously won't be executing that agronomic program this year because the rough renovation would be too aggressive … for the Presidents Cup," Latshaw says. "That said, we will probably do something on the greens, maybe remove some organic matter, but that will almost be a game-time decision. "We are always trying to fnish the year strong," he adds. "We will be making sure the rough is even, do an extra fertilizer application and get more hand watering out so we go into this event as strong and healthy as possible." Asked for one fnal piece of advice for other superintendents who fnd themselves in a similar situation, Latshaw says fexibility and a less-is-more approach can be the best strategy. "Sometimes the best move is the move you don't make," Latshaw concludes. GCM David McPherson is a freelance writer based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and a regular contributor to GCM.

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