The Golfdom Files: So you want to host a major tournament?

By |  April 18, 2024 0 Comments
Golfdom May 2006 cover.

Golfdom May 2006 cover.

What’s it like to host a major? This story from the May 2006 issue of Golfdom sheds light on what it was like for Eddie Adams, former head greenkeeper at St. Andrews, during the week of the 2000 Open Championship on the Old Course. Click here to read the full article and for more stories from tournament-hosting agronomists, turn the page and check out the Tour Guide.

So you want to host a major tournament?

By Anthony Pioppi // Contributing Editor

In the last six years, I’ve had the good fortune to be a volunteer staff member for four high-profile golf tournaments. If all goes as planned this year, I’ll chalk up my fifth this summer as part of Bob Reynolds’ crew at Newport Country Club for the U.S. Women’s Open in June.

My first stint was with Eddie Adams at the 2000 Open Championship at the Old Course. I was back at the Old with Euan Grant, who was in charge for the 2005 Open. In between I worked a bit for Craig Currier at Bethpage Black for the 2002 U.S. Open. Last summer Jon Jennings was gracious enough to allow me to be part of his staff for the Walker Cup at Chicago Golf Club.

There are common threads that run through the successes each of these talented professionals was able to attain with their respective tournaments. Unlike superintendents who host tour events every year, these men were faced with new situations every day. Even at the Old Course, which hosts a European PGA Tour event, the rules are different for the Open.

The first fact I realized — and it is unequivocal — is that I would never want to be the superintendent on whose course such tournaments are held. The amount of — how can I put this delicately — beetle droppings that comes with hosting such an event is amazing.

The tournaments, amateur or professional, garner an inordinate amount of attention from the media and golf fans around the world. Often, decisions are made by governing bodies in which the superintendent has no input and is left only to implement and defend.

As an example, in 2000 on the Wednesday morning of tournament week, the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, which oversees the Open, decided to remove the crushed stone and cement pieces that covered the sidewalk behind the Road Hole green on No. 17.

As far back as anyone could remember the surface had always been that way, but the R&A came to the conclusion that if a ball ended up on the sidewalk players would be able to sweep away the stone and cement chips around the ball, classified as loose impediments, giving themselves a teed-up lie.

Even though Adams realized his crew could be better utilized elsewhere with the first tee time less than 24 hours away, he had the entire staff of 45-plus on site within minutes and in under an hour the sidewalk was clean.

As Adams said at the time, there was no reason to get worked up about such decisions. There was nothing he could do to change it, so why worry about it?

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