For those in the golf industry, there may be no more of an adrenaline rush than hosting a high-profile golf event.
Whether it comes in running the competition, conditioning the course, or producing the event for television, years of preparation are on display as millions worldwide enjoy – and in some cases – critique the event. Attendees of the 2011 Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) Education Conference in Orlando will learn first-hand from industry leaders and media representatives the X’s and O’s required to challenge the world’s best players at a Friday, Feb. 11 session, “Cheers, Tears and Fears: Hosting a major championship,” beginning at 8 a.m. in the Orange County Convention Center.
Scheduled to participate are Stan George, GCSAA certified golf course superintendent at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan.; Matt Shaffer, director of golf at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa.; Mike Davis, USGA senior director of rules and competitions; and Tommy Roy, NBC Sports golf producer. The discussion will be moderated by Golf Digest Senior Architecture Editor Ron Whitten. The session will provide a behind the scenes look at the agronomic preparations and aftermath of a tournament, as well as media coverage and requirements of hosting a high-profile event.
George, a 32-year GCSAA member, is in his 20th year at Prairie Dunes. He has hosted the Trans-Miss Amateur there in 1996 and 2005, the 1995 U.S. Senior Amateur, the 2002 U.S. Women’s Open, and the 2006 U.S. Senior Open.
Shaffer, a 30-year GCSAA member, has been at Merion for nine years. He has prepped Merion’s East Course, which has hosted the most USGA championships of any golf facility in the country, for the 2005 U.S. Amateur, 2009 Walker Cup and will host 2013 U.S. Open. Shaffer also helped prepare for four Masters during his stint as assistant superintendent at Augusta (Ga.) National Golf Club from 1986-89.
Davis is responsible for the course setup at the U.S. Open, U.S. Women’s Open, U.S. Senior Open and U.S. Amateur championships every year, as well as the Walker Cup. With the addition of graduated roughs and varying tee boxes over the past five years, Davis has generated additional interest and exposure in the setup of USGA championships by forcing players to think about shot and club selection more from round to round. Working closely with the host superintendent to prepare each venue, he has often said that the most important person at a U.S. Open is the golf course superintendent.
Roy began his career as a “gopher” for NBC Sports at the Tucson Open Golf Tournament by taking coffee to the cameramen. He made an impression along the way and after working his way up the ranks, was named executive producer of NBC Sports in 1993. Roy has served as executive producer or has produced the Olympics, Super Bowl, World Series, U.S. Open, Ryder Cup, Players Championship, Daytona 500, Kentucky Derby, Wimbledon, and NBA Playoffs among many others. He has won 27 Sports Emmy Awards during his tenure.
Whitten, a former lawyer and long-time golf writer, manages Golf Digest’s golf course rankings and criteria, the Green Star Awards program that the magazine bestows upon environmental stewards, and writes previews of the courses hosting majors each year. He has authored several books and this past summer was inducted into the Kansas Golf Hall of Fame. Whitten received the 1996 Donald Ross Award from the American Society of Golf Course Architects and helped design Erin Hills in Hartford, Wis., which hosted the 2008 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links, and will host the 2011 U.S. Amateur and 2017 U.S. Open.
The GCSAA Education Conference, Feb. 7-11, is held in conjunction with the Golf Industry Show, Feb. 9-10, in Orlando. It is the largest educational conference in the turfgrass management industry. Covering all ranges of golf course management, including agronomics, environmental management, communication and business management information, the conference includes more than 100 seminars, as well as numerous education sessions. There is an environmental education track offered, as well as an economic education track. World Golf Hall of Fame members Nick Price and Judy Rankin will speak, as well as Orlando Magic Senior Vice President Pat Williams.
GCSAA is a leading golf organization and has as its focus golf course management. Since 1926, GCSAA has been the top professional association for the men and women who manage golf courses in the United States and worldwide. From its headquarters in Lawrence, Kan., the association provides education, information and representation to more than 20,000 members in more than 72 countries. GCSAA’s mission is to serve its members, advance their profession and enhance the enjoyment, growth and vitality of the game of golf. The association’s philanthropic organization, The Environmental Institute for Golf, works to strengthen the compatibility of golf with the natural environment through research grants, support for education programs and outreach efforts. Visit GCSAA at www.gcsaa.org.