On to Phase Two
The U.S. Open isn’t over for superintendent Jason Mandon and the Olympic Club maintenance crew just yet
|Justin Mandon holds a radio during the U.S. Open. He often had two radios in his hands. (Photo by: Larry Aylward)|
By Larry Aylward,
SAN FRANCISCO — A lot of people were telling the Olympic Club’s Jason Mandon last week that he probably couldn’t wait until today — the day after the U.S. Open ended. While those people were just being considerate for Mandon, the golf course superintendent for the club’s Lake Course, they really didn’t know what they were saying.
For one, Mandon — despite the long working hours dedicated to the event, as in 18-hour days — reveled in the excitement of the tournament. It was his career highlight. Secondly, today doesn’t mark the end of the U.S. Open for Mandon and the club’s maintenance team.
“[Today] is the beginning of what we call phase two, which is cleaning up the Lake Course and giving it back to the membership,” says Mandon, who has been the Lake Course superintendent for about a year.
There’s also work to tend to on the club’s Ocean Course, which is in the midst of a greens renovation and is scheduled to reopen in September.
“We have quite a bit of work to get done before the end of the year, and that will be my focus,” Mandon says.
Mandon marveled at the spectacle that is the U.S. Open.
“You can prepare as much as you want, but I don’t think you ever really know how big it is until it gets here,” he says.
Mandon is still amazed at how fast things came together to stage one of the world’s greatest sporting events. Eighteen-wheeler after 18-wheeler began arriving in mid-March at the Olympic Club to set up for the tournament.
“Having that much infrastructure and seeing how quickly it was put together still blows me away,” Mandon says.
There was also a ton of planning that went into maintaining the course during the tournament. More than 110 volunteers from 16 countries were added to the maintenance staff.
“The logistics of just organizing that was much larger than any of us expected,” Mandon says. “But many of the volunteers were superintendents, assistants and other industry professionals. They did a great job.”
A big thrill for the 34-year-old northern California native was having the best players in the world play the course. But an even bigger thrill was getting the chance to work with all of the volunteers.
“It was really neat,” Mandon said.
Was Mandon satisfied with the conditions the maintenance team provided for the tournament? Yes and no. The team did its best to prepare for the tournament, but that doesn’t necessarily equate to satisfaction, Mandon says.
“I don’t think you’re ever satisfied as a superintendent,” Mandon says. “I think there are always places you can improve on, although I might not be able to tell you exactly what those things are right now and what we would do differently.”
Mandon knows that hosting a U.S. Open is a feather in his cap and a wonderful thing to put on his resume. He knows it will help him further his career.
“This can only open doors and provide opportunity,” he says.
But Mandon is in no hurry to leave the Olympic Club.
“I’ve been here for seven years, and it has been a great seven years,” he said. “I’m in no rush to leave. I love it here.”
No matter where he ends up, the U.S. Open will provide a lifetime of memories.
“It will be hard to top this event,” Mandon said.
Aylward can be reached at email@example.com.