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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56 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 08.14 tablished his T-1 greens. Meier inquired, often. Their relationship has proved to be fruitful. "The biggest thing is aerifcation," says Franklin, a 28-year GCSAA member. "His method was different than how I'd done it. He is doing smaller holes and more often. I never did it that way. When I fnally did it, it was a real success. I think Roger's mentored me more than I've helped him." Valhalla lead assistant superintendent Chris Habich isn't shocked to hear that. "Roger isn't old school. He's new school," Habich says. "He's scientifc. He thinks outside the box. Sometimes I'm like, 'Where did you come up with that?' He lets us be accountable and try things. I almost consider myself a su - perintendent the way Roger runs things here." Jon Scott, vice president of agronomic ser - vices at Nicklaus Design, was one individual whom Meier sought for assistance. If anybody knows Valhalla's background, and its issues with greens, Scott does. He served as grow-in superintendent there. He referred to his 18 months at Valhalla as "a diffcult grow-in." He says several of the young Penncross greens had turf loss, and it took a fall growing season to get them back in shape. Obviously, that recovery didn't last. Flooding issues hastened a decision to make drastic changes. "The moment of truth occurred after the Senior PGA Championship in 2011 when the greens just gave out," Scott says. "That was Roger's frst full year, and let's just say it made a pretty strong impression on him that some - thing needed to be done." Dysfunctional greens caused a debate at Valhalla: Rebuild or strip down below the ac - cumulated organic layers and regrass? The lat- ter argument prevailed. Meier considered varying types of bent - grass, including 007. He still gave thought to Penn A-1/A-4. There even was talk of a grass that has gained momentum in the deep South. "We actually had a talk, and it was a very short talk, of possibly putting in ber - mudagrass," Meier says, "just because of this whole movement. Someday, not necessarily here, I can see bermudagrass in this area." Meier received insight on T-1 from Bob Hogan of The Hogan Co. in Springfeld, Tenn., who was his connection to Brede. "Roger is a very fair man, very conscious of what he wants," Hogan says. "I could compli - ment him all day long." Ultimately, Meier picked T-1, which has a strikingly rich, dark green appearance. Unlike Chariot Run, a wide-open course with full sun and an abundance of air, Valhalla is more of a microclimate scenario. Some areas are shaded, and air movement in spots is a problem. "I liked the versatility in the T-1," he says. "I liked how well it germinates, its heat tolerance, and it had the most uniform stand I'd ever seen." Brede, who likes to call the product his "baby," says that if he had introduced it 20 years earlier in 1984, half the courses in the U.S. al - ready would have it. Besides courses in the U.S. that have T-1, China is big on it. You can fnd T-1 in Las Vegas and in Carmel, Calif., at Val - ley Ranch Golf Course (which was among the frst to install T-1). It also can be seen in Bu - cyrus, Kan. That is where Tom Watson has T-1 on the putting green at his farm. Brede understands why Meier was under the microscope when he picked T-1. "The highest valued agricultural real estate in the world is a putting green," Brede says. DeBolt knew Meier was serious about T-1 when they jumped in a golf car one day during the pre-selection period. "We toured the course in a pouring-down rain," DeBolt says. "He was telling me his vision of what he wanted to do. He just had it all mapped out." Meier never lost sleep over the decision, which came with the club's blessing, as well as that of the PGA of America and the Golden Bear himself, Nicklaus. Still, Meier was on the spot. After all, Valhalla decided against hiring a project manager. Instead, Meier was given that role. Thorp says: "I told Roger, 'They are essen - tially giving you everything you want.' I said, 'You better produce or you'll be in big trouble.''' Superintendent Brice Gordon of Otis Park Golf Course in New Bedford, Ind., who has T-1 greens and traded information with Meier, doubts that Thorp's warning made much of an impact. "Roger's kind of fearless," says Gordon, a The 18th at Valhalla GC, with its spiral-topped clubhouse in the distance. Photo courtesy of PGA of America

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