Golf Course Management

AUG 2014

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

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58 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 08.14 29-year GCSAA member. There was some debate about whether to wait until the upcoming PGA Championship was over to begin renovations. Obviously, with such an important event on the calendar, it was deemed too risky to delay. "You've got to make a decision. I had a great support network," Meier says. "You've got to do it and go." In November 2011, the back nine greens were reseeded; in March 2012, the front nine greens were reseeded. Six months later, Val - halla reopened. Meier, and others who matter there, now believe they are positioned for years of success. Valhalla second assistant superin - tendent Joey Downard knows Meier sank his heart into this. "It seemed he was in every place at one time, going over things with a fne-tooth comb, Eight is enough This may not exactly be the Valhalla Golf Club you remember. Since it staged the 2008 Ryder Cup and 2011 Senior PGA Championship, Valhalla has had quite a facelift, as the world will note during this month's PGA Championship. For instance, when the course was renovated three years ago, two fairway bunkers were added to the split fairway at the par-5 7th. On No. 2, the entire green was shifted to the left. A fairway bunker was removed at No. 15. Although it may not necessarily catch your eye if you watch the championship on TV, one of the most notable changes occurred on No. 8. The 189-yard par-3, according to Valhalla member Mike Thorp, had become "an abomination." "In my opinion, the green was crazy. Multi-levels. Horseshoe-shaped around the bunker. Very shallow. All of the undulations. It was bizarre," Thorp says. This wasn't the frst time that No. 8 had been the center of attention. It was redesigned pre-Ryder Cup. "It had severe contouring," says Valhalla superintendent Roger Meier. "It was controversial. The members just didn't like the contours. It was almost quadrant golf, so to speak, where you had to be in a particular area of the green. We just didn't want to have the same No. 8." Thorp even challenged course designer Jack Nicklaus when the most recent renovation occurred. He opposed the idea of keeping severe undulations. Thorp told Nicklaus that to his face. "Jack said, 'If you keep messing with this, you'll get bored with this hole.' He thought it would present no challenge to us (members) and the best in the world," Thorp says. Meier and Thorp got their wish. Meier says Nicklaus ultimately approved soft - ening contours at No. 8. "The green turned out so good this time," Meier says. "You don't see these big undulations. They're so subtle. You can't fgure them out. They're fair, but the sub - tleties make it challenging. It's a very fair green." Ñ H.R. Valhalla member Mike Thorp, left, and superintendent Roger Meier got their way at No. 8. Photo courtesy of Valhalla GC the one goal being to make this place better," Downard says. Scott — who has met and collaborated with superintendents for years — believes that Meier is built to ensure Valhalla's foundation. That should come as no surprise. Meier's Eagle Scout project all those years ago called for him to rebuild. On that occasion, it was a food pantry at the United Methodist Church in Trumansburg. He transformed a storage closet that was used to distribute food out of boxes and bags into a pantry that featured shelves and labels to make storage and inven - tory simpler. "He uses future vision to know where he is going and what he needs to do now to get there," Scott says. "Perhaps, most importantly, he is a great leader, motivator and organizer. If I had to put on paper the key traits I have seen in top golf course superintendents I have known and worked with, Roger would possess every one of them." Meier defects praise as he puts the fnishing touches on a new-look Valhalla that has his fn - gerprints all over it. "This isn't about me," Meier says. "It's about the club. This industry. This profession. It's about reaching out to guys who have tenure, who've gone through it, people who have had more experiences than I've had," Meier says. Howard Richman ( is GCM 's asso- ciate editor.

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