Notebook: Lore of the Land

Jordan Niebrugge (above), of Mequon, Wis., holds a 1-up lead over Michael Kim, of Del Mar, Calif., through the first 18 holes of Saturday's championship match at the 2013 U.S. Amateur Public Links. (USGA/Joel Kowsky)
By Michael Trostel, USGA, with Andrew Blair
July 20, 2013

LORTON, Va. – Laurel Hill Golf Club sits on the grounds of the old Lorton Reformatory, a correctional facility which has not seen prisoners inside its walls since 2001. Three silos remain from the dairy farm that the prisoners used to operate. Holes 10 through 14 run adjacent to the former maximum-security complex. Remnants of guard towers and wire fences are still visible. In keeping with the land’s history, standard tee markers at non-USGA championships are shaped in the form of guard towers, representing the institution that was built in 1910.

“It started out as a prison, a reformatory, a brand-new concept initiated by [future President Franklin Delano] Roosevelt as a reform as opposed to hard labor,” said Kirk Mason, the general manager at the club.

The property was also once a missile control site. Areas outside the seventh and 18th fairways were once stocked with enough firepower to blow away potential incoming strikes during the Cold War era.

“[The missiles] were raised during the Cuban missile crisis, but thankfully, were never used,” Mason said.

The prison closed in 2001 and the following year, the Fairfax County Park Authority acquired the land and engaged golf course architect Bill Love to design a golf course. He used the land’s natural contours, complete with rolling hills and an abundance of acreage, which gave the course a mature look from the start.

In January 2011, the USGA formally selected Laurel Hill to host the 2013 APL. It was the first time the

Fairfax County Park Authority even bid on hosting the event. Today, a high school, a middle school, a housing development and an active adult housing center sit on the land where the former prison once stood.

Who’s Your Caddie?

The heat and humidity at the 2013 APL have taken their toll on everyone – from the players, to volunteers, to Rules officials – but they have especially impacted caddies.

During the course of the championship, several caddies have been given medical treatment for heat-related illnesses, both during and after rounds. Many opted for push-carts to ease the burden of carrying 20-pound golf bags for more than four hours – and in some cases eight hours – in searing temperatures.

Michael Kim, for one, will be using his fourth caddie of the week in Saturday’s championship match.

He started with Rusty Messinger, the 50-something husband of the Fairfax County Parks Authority’s Deputy Director, Cindy Messinger. Rusty carried Kim’s bag through both rounds of stroke play and the first two rounds of match play before the heat forced him to rest.

Adam Bacon, a member of the South County (Lorton, Va.) High School golf team and employee of the club, was next up. Bacon carried Kim’s bag in his 3-and-2 victory over Mitchell Rutledge on Thursday afternoon, but because of a personal commitment could not continue on Friday.

In came Garrett Kennedy, a former T.C. Williams (Alexandria, Va.) High School golf team member who now attends Sewanee: The University of the South in Tennessee. Kennedy had caddied for Mario Clemens in the championship until Clemens lost to James Erkenbeck in the third round, but jumped at the opportunity to caddie for Kim. Kennedy was on the bag in Kim’s quarterfinal and semifinal matches, but felt exhausted when he returned home on Friday evening.

Kennedy’s father called John Caulfield, the varsity golf coach at South County High School and Chair of the Caddie Committee for the 2013 APL, and told him that Garrett needed some extra rest to recover from the long day and would not be available on Saturday morning for the start of the 36-hole championship match.

“Anybody would be exhausted in that heat,” said Kim, of his caddie carousel this week. “I’m just thankful that people have been willing to step up. [Laurel Hill] has done a great job.”

Finally, the call went to Chris McIntosh, the assistant professional at Laurel Hill Golf Club, to fill in for Saturday. McIntosh has been working 16-hour days for the past couple of weeks helping the club prepare for and conduct the APL.

He will likely be sweaty by day’s end, but his term of service at the APL may be completed by caddieing for the champion of the event he helped to put on.

Michael Trostel is the senior curator/historian for the USGA Museum. Email him at

Andrew Blair is director of communications for the Virginia State Golf Association. He is assisting the USGA this week at the APL.

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