COURSE CARE
The 89th And Final U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship: A Community Event August 5, 2014 By Ty A. McClellan

Golf championships frequently rely on volunteers to prepare and care for the course. As evident by the divot-filling crew in this image, one of several groups performing this task, community members stepped up in a big way to make the 89th and final U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship at Sand Creek Station Golf Course in Newton, Kan. a resounding success.

From July 9 to 19, 2014, I had the privilege to serve as the agronomist for the 89th and final U.S. Amateur Public Links (APL) Championship and work with the grounds crew at Sand Creek Station Golf Course in Newton, Kan. When the Standish trophy was awarded to champion Byron Meth following a thrilling 37-hole finals match July 19, 2014, the end had come for the APL. But before we completely close the book on this USGA national championship, there are a number of unsung heroes that helped make this final APL possible.

With a staff size of only 10, and just over a handful of volunteers available from surrounding courses, superintendent James Houchen got creative in soliciting additional help. First, there was the primary hole cutter, Houchen’s next-door neighbor, who took a week of vacation from work to help with the championship. Then, there was Houchen’s father-in-law and brother who assisted with early-morning preparations before their day jobs. Next, general manager Chris Tuohey volunteered two staff members from clubhouse operations to assist with morning preparations on the golf course, only for them to then resume their normal positions at the clubhouse once they were finished on the course. Finally, there were dozens of volunteers from the community that helped fill fairway and tee divots in the evenings following play. These are just a few examples of how individuals stepped up in a big way to volunteer their time on the course. Needless to say, this was a team – and community – effort, and for that the entire golfing community in the Newton, Kan. area should be extremely proud of the national championship they delivered.

If there was a common thread throughout the Championship, it was that the talented team at Sand Creek Station Golf Course was not going to disappoint, which was obvious through their tireless effort and determination to work effectively and efficiently. On a side note, water management on green complexes was outstanding. The diligent use of portable soil moisture meters made this possible because they helped guide hand-waterers in their efforts to be most timely and accurate with water applications. There was no guesswork; simply a target firmness that was associated with volumetric water content in the upper 2 inches of the soil that hand-waterers were able to monitor and achieve. Wilt on the bentgrass putting surfaces was avoided and greens were consistently firm and smooth for the competitors. Well done.

Obviously a big thank you is extended to the Newton, Kan., community, the volunteers and the staff at Sand Creek Station Golf Course. The final U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship was one for all involved to take great pride in. As for the players that participated in the Championship, high praise was extended for the Midwestern hospitality they received and well-conditioned golf course they played.

Source: Ty A. McClellan (tmcclellan@usga.org)

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