PGA Senior Open Coverage


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PGA Senior Open Coverage

  1. 1. Tony Mancuso checks greens speeds following the flood. Photo courtesy of Tom Arterburn ...Come Hell or High Water Despite setbacks, Bellerive Country Club owns a page in U.S. Senior Open History. By Tom R. Arterburn “W “We’ve got a wonderful golf course that’s in outstand- are absolutely wonderful. The fairways that Tony has ing condition, and we’ve heard nothing but wonderful groomed have not only given a good lie for the players, comments to this point from the players,” said Tim but I think they’ve given them a perfect lie. There really, Moraghan, director of championship’s agronomy for the really shouldn’t be any issues this week.” United States Golf Association (USGA) as he sat alongside “You never know what you’re going to get, and this Grounds Superintendent Tony Mancuso, CGCS, at a press summer has been one of those great summers, and the conference the day before the opening round of the 25th golf gods really looked upon Bellerive this summer. We’re U.S. Senior Open Golf Tournament at Bellerive Coun- at a point now where we’re ready to get this thing going. try Club in St. Louis, Mo. “The areas of the golf course It’s been a long time coming, particularly since 2001, and I 26 ⁿ ₎ ffi fl  fi  fl  fl fl   October 2004
  2. 2. ...COME HELL OR HIGH WATER WWW.GROUNDS-MAG.COM A six-hour downpour dropped 3 inches of rain on Bellerive during the U.S. Senior Open. Photo courtesy of Tom Arterburn know my staff has been very anxious to work towards this upgrade thanks to some quick thinking by Mancuso, event, and we’ve had roughly 1,000 days since then to get who was presented with some hard decisions regarding ready,” added Mancuso before he went on to reminisce course upgrades. about the disappointment his crew suffered during the “At the time, we only knew we were going to have the last big tournament—The World Golf Championships at 2004 Senior Open, and were in the process of implement- Bellerive scheduled to run Sept. 13-16, 2001. ing a four-year program to replace all of our intermedi- St. Louis. Voted America’s Best Sports City by the Sport- ate cut. We were going to do a little bit of extra Zoysia ing News in 2000, it was no surprise that in spite of the on the greens and fairway bunkers. But we went from infamous terrorist attacks in New York City, Washing- spreading that out over the next three years, to doing all ton, D.C. and Pittsburgh, that fans showed up in droves of it in one month. So basically, a four-year plan became just 24 hours later for the event; but it was cancelled. A a 30-day plan.” setback that not only devastated the club, the fans and the host city, but demoralized the grounds crew for a A GREEN LIGHT FOR UPGRADES time, which, in just 18 months, brought the course up In order to complete the work under such demanding to championship standards. time constraints, the group put down a little over eight “It’s been a long time coming,” said Mancuso. “I re- acres of sod—40,000 square yards in 21 working days. member putting up on the board in the break room the “The problem is that we have all this inconsistency in our Monday after that week that we had roughly 1,075 days inch-and-quarter cut ... with all these different grasses, left, and they all kind of chuckled, and I said, ‘It’ll be we said we’ve just gotta get this done. And we did it.” here before you know it.’ And here we are.” The budget for the job was a quarter of a million dol- But getting “here” actually began prior to 2001, when, lars, and demanded that extra staff be brought on that despite a near impossible schedule, the course got its year. “We increased our summer time staff by about five, CONTINUED ON PAGE 32 28 ⁿ ₎ ffi fl  fi  fl  fl fl   October 2004
  3. 3. ...COME HELL OR HIGH WATER CONTINUED FROM PAGE 28 J.R. Schnaar, left, and Rob Kick return from dragging fairways the morning after the flood. Photo courtesy of Tom Arterburn which brought us to a horticulture staff of 35 total. We the event … and then to have it crushed by the worst also had a group of volunteers, which we asked to help domestic act of terrorism in our nation’s history. It was us with the event, so each day of the event, we had 20 hard to take—not just for us, but the world,” said Man- extra staff in the morning and 20 in the evening.” cuso, who had come to the course just six years prior The bulk of the volunteers came from the Missis- from Columbus, Ohio, after holding previous positions as sippi Valley Golf Course Superintendents Association golf course superintendent at New Albany Country Club, (MVGCSA), as well as assistance from local vendors and Columbus, Ohio; Fairfield Glade Resort, Crossville, Tenn.; equipment manufacturers. For instance, a couple of extra and Anniston Country Club, Anniston, Ala. “It took me a sand machines were brought in “and we modified two couple of years to kind of figure things out here. As I like of them by taking the rakes off the back and replacing to tell people, the first two years I was here, I figured out them with standard floor brooms, so in the evenings, we how not to do everything, and I had no idea how tough could condition the bunkers: check the depths, perform St. Louis was to grow turf.” hand watering of the bunker faces, etc.” But once he did, changes were made that would bring In addition, Mancuso had his SandPro modified by the course back to championship condition. replacing the knobby tires with street-type tires “so we could walk down the sides of the bunkers with the HIGH WATER tires after they were watered. This way, in the morning, July 31, 2004 was a new day, though, and Mancuso the guys had nothing to worry about but raking their was optimistic. “Here we are, and the staff is just really lines.” excited. I’m so happy that most of my staff was here in The department also brought in an advanced agrono- ’01, and I’m so happy that they can all get another chance mist, who assisted for a week prior to the event. to see this thing through. The USGA has been wonderful “All that work … all the good fortune leading up to to work with, and the golf course is, I think, as ready as CONTINUED ON PAGE 33 32 ⁿ ₎ ffi fl  fi  fl  fl fl   October 2004
  4. 4. WWW.GROUNDS-MAG.COM ...COME HELL OR HIGH WATER CONTINUED FROM PAGE 32 assistant superintendent could only muster a forced grin when asked if Bellerive was cursed. “I don’t know, man. Things are pretty weird around here.” “I’ve never seen it this bad,” added Mancuso that evening while he surveyed the course ... a gentle wake drifting off the tires of his golf cart as he rolled down the path along the seventh fairway. “But we’ll be ready, he said with that trademark Mancuso calm confidence. “It’s the volunteers,” said Farver, as he looked over his shoulder at volunteer grounds teams on every green and fairway within eyesight as the sun was setting. “That’s what I love about this industry. Whenever somebody needs help, we all come together.” In this case, it was Tim Moraghan, director of championship's agronomy for the USGA colleagues from the MVGCSA, interns from Mancuso’s sits alongside Grounds Superintendent Tony Mancuso, CGCS, as a alma mater Mississippi State University, as well as Iowa press conference the day before the opening round of the 25th U.S. State University, and as far away as Canada, England and Senior Open. Photo courtesy of Tom Arterburn Australia, who learned about the new and the old of grounds maintenance. U.S. SENIOR OPEN HISTORY According to Arthur E. Wright, Jr., who wrote “Bel- lerive’s Proud History,” the country club has a long and honorable history. Founded in 1897 as the Field Club of St. Louis, it soon had a 9-hole course just 10 years after the first golf course was built in the United States at St. An- drews in Yonkers, N.Y. In 1909, the club moved to a larger site in northwest St. Louis County and changed its name to Bellerive Country Club, after Captain Louis Ange de Bellerive, the last French commander in North America and the first governor of St. Louis. Its new 18-hole golf course was designed by the club’s new golf professional, Robert Foulis, a native of St. Andrews, Scotland, who Arnold Palmer at the U.S. Senior Open. Photo courtesy of Tom remained the club’s golf professional for 35 years. Arterburn Today, Bellerive has several signatures holes. The par three, sixth hole will play 190 yards. This hole has been rated as one of the toughest par threes statistically in it can be. The weather has been very friendly to us...” past events held at the facility. In the 1965 U.S. Open ...until a forecast for light rain was a bad prediction for Championship, 82 golf balls were found the pond that a six-hour downpour that brought over 3 inches of rain, borders the green on the right. which forced the USGA to push the second round into Sat- The par five, 17th hole will play 574 yards and is bor- urday and bump the third round to Sunday. The deluge, dered on the right by a creek for the entire length of the which ran from Thursday evening into Friday morning, hole. The par five, 10th hole usually plays as a par five for saturated the course. Parts of the surface, especially the the members, however for the U.S. Senior Open it played seventh and ninth holes, were under water. The fairway as a 484 yard par four, dogleg left with a creek crossing on No. 7, which abuts a creek, was fully submerged. Part in front of the green. It was the longest course in U.S. of the ninth fairway, in addition to bunkers, was teeming Senior Open history and conquered by Peter Jacobsen, with water. And on the third hole, a par 3, the green had after holding off a late charge from Hale Irwin to win turned into an island. by just one shot. GM The rain, which dissipated late Friday morning, had been so heavy that crews couldn’t even get on the course. Later they could be seen squeegeeing greens and dump- Tom R. Arterburn is an independent journalist based in St. Louis, Mo. You ing water out of bunkers. Friday evening Todd Farver, can contact him at October 2004  ⁿ ₎ ffi fl  fi  fl  fl fl  33