Olympic Club Puts Teeth Back in U.S. Open
The consummate gentleman and other notes from the national championship
|Assistant Superintendent Eric Styck (front row, fourth from left) led the maintenance team to grow mustaches.|
By Larry Aylward,
SAN FRANCISCO — Congratulations to Pat Finlen, the Olympic Club’s director of golf maintenance operations, and his staff, including Lake Course Superintendent Justin Mandon, on a successful U.S. Open. The course was set up to be very difficult, but it was a fair test of golf for a tournament that’s known to provide the toughest exam in golf.
Finlen predicted that 3-under would win. He was right, but Webb Simpson only needed 1-over to earn the title.
The Olympic Club put the teeth back in the U.S. Open, especially after last year’s cakewalk at Congressional Country Club, where Rory McIlroy made the course look like an executive par-3 track.
The players had many good things to say about the Lake Course and the new bentgrass greens. It was a spectacular setting for the national championship. Read more
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. Read more
Let It Roll
Merion Golf Club’s Matt Shaffer got what he wanted — a fairway roller to control dollar spot on his club’s fairways and to improve playability
|The Olympic Club’s Gerardo Garcia operated the Tranz-Former during the U.S. Open. (Photo by: Larry Aylward)|
By Larry Aylward,
SAN FRANCISCO — Matt Shaffer is a thinking man’s golf course superintendent — always looking for ways to do his job better. So it’s no surprise that Shaffer, the director of golf course operations at Merion Golf Club near Philadelphia, contacted Sal Rizzo, the founder and CEO of Salsco Inc., about building him a fairway roller. Rizzo has built and sold greens rollers for years, but a fairway roller was something different. But Shaffer, whose club will host the U.S. Open in 2013, had a feeling that Rizzo would be interested in his request.
“He’s innovative and imaginative,” Shaffer says. “He also likes to be challenged.”
About 10 months later, Rizzo unveiled the Tranz-Former Fairway/Greens Roller. The sleek-looking machine was used on fairways at the Olympic Club’s Lake Course during the U.S. Open.
The Tranz-Former is self-propelled and has a transport speed of about 11 mph. The transport wheels raise to place rolls into position for rolling. Rolling width is 10 feet.
“Each roll is independent of the entire machine,” Rizzo explains. “That allows each roll to float over the surface and follow the undulations without changing. This roller is not designed to make anything flat; it’s designed to smooth the surface.” Read more