Super Travis Cook gives the scoop on managing the Regions Tradition at Greystone G&CC’s

By |  May 7, 2024 0 Comments

Since the Regions Tradition — one of the PGA Tour Champions’ five major championships — is typically held in May, Greystone Golf & Country Club will likely encounter a potentially serious challenge this year: Mother Nature.

Due to the event’s timing, Superintendent Travis Cook says the Birmingham, Ala.-based club is “at the mercy of Mother Nature.”

“We hope she will send us good turf-growing weather early enough, so that the Founders Course, which has hosted the Regions Tradition since 2016, looks and plays well for the event,” he says.

The Founders Course is one of two 18-hole championship courses on the property. More than 7,200 yards long from the back tees, the course provides PGA Tour Champions members a considerable challenge every year, as it has a 75.2 rating and a 143 slope.

The club’s other 18-hole option, the Legacy Course, is challenging as well, as it measures approximately 7,100 yards from the back tees. Members, along with their guests, have plenty of sights to enjoy, as well as a considerable amount of daunting tasks to overcome.

“Play has increased over the last several years, as more and more golfers are learning about the beauty of both courses,” Cook says. “I’m looking forward to more members and guests enjoying these amazing properties as much as possible.”

A full irrigation renovation

Last summer, Cook oversaw a complete irrigation renovation at the Founders Course. Originally, the project was estimated to be completed in nine months, via two phases, to accomodate the Regions Tradition. However, it was finished in only four months — during one phase — instead.

“Liebold Irrigation came in clutch by sending extra staff members, in order to make sure we completed the project before the fall,” Cook says.

Greystone G&CC hosted its first pro tournament, the Regions Charity Classic, just a year after it opened in 1991. (Photo: Travis Cook)

Greystone G&CC hosted its first pro tournament, the Regions Charity Classic, just a year after it opened in 1991. (Photo: Travis Cook)

The course now has new HDPE plumbing, wire and heads.

“Since we pulled in the pipe across the fairways, there was minor disruption to the turf (but) the scarring was minimal,” he says.

Along with this renovation, another key change has occurred at the club in recent years: cool-season rough has been added underneath various trees along the Founders Course’s property lines.

“These areas were previously pine straw or natural areas,” Cook says. “But, by adding cool-season rough, the Founders Course’s edges have additional color. Furthermore, they allow professionals and amateurs to have better playability — after hitting errant shots — than they would’ve had if the course’s natural woods remained.”

Building relationships

Prior to accepting his current role in July 2021, Cook served as assistant superintendent at the Country Club of Birmingham. During his tenure from 2016 to 2021, he volunteered to work at the Regions Tradition, leading him to establish relationships with Greystone Golf & Country Club staff members.

Ultimately, Cook’s contacts notified him about the club’s available golf course superintendent job, an opportunity he “jumped at.” Since accepting the opportunity, his role has evolved quite a bit.

Travis Cook, superintendent at Greystone G&CC, says seeing former team members return as volunteers during the Regions Tradition is one of the highlights of tournament week. (Photo: Travis Cook)

Travis Cook, superintendent at Greystone G&CC, says seeing former team members return as volunteers during the Regions Tradition is one of the highlights of tournament week. (Photo: Travis Cook)

“When I first started, it was more about the daily grind of producing pristine conditions and being the ‘doer’ on the course,” he says. “Since then, we added an assistant superintendent to our team, leading to a total of two. Consequently, I’ve been able to move more into a leadership role, allowing me to not only advance course conditions, but my assistant superintendents’ careers, too.”

Now that Cook is the golf course superintendent, his relationships with volunteers continue to blossom, and in unique ways. For example, every year since 2021, his parents and brother have volunteered, helping the maintenance team with tasks like raking bunkers, collecting flags and tee markers.

“Their emotional support, along with my wife Kayla’s, helps me succeed throughout the week of the Regions Tradition,” he says. “It is rewarding to show my family members, who were skeptics when I first entered my career, what really goes into maintaining a golf course. Now they are big advocates of mine.”

Aside from his family, Cook also reconnects with his past teammates, including those who served as superintendents, staff members and interns. For example, last year, Thomas Gould, a former intern who currently works maintenance at Chicago Golf Club, volunteered all week long.

“A main highlight of working with volunteers is spending a week with people I’ve mentored and hearing how great their careers are now,” Cook says.

Usually, Cook has roughly 50 volunteers who work throughout the United States. Some have been discovered through social media, while others arrived through national networking opportunities. A majority of volunteers are local though, ranging from superintendents, to technicians, to vendors.

“We have tremendous support when it comes to industry partnerships, which help provide meals, equipment loaners and donations that allow us to offer an enjoyable environment to everyone involved,” he says.

About the Author: Chris Lewis

Michigan-based writer Chris Lewis specializes in reporting on golf in the U.S. He wrote about White Pine National Golf Resort for Golfdom in 2013, and part two of the magazine’s annual Plant Health Series in 2014.


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