The focus of the golf world will be on Tulsa and two of its high-quality golf courses for the 109th U.S. Amateur, Aug. 24-30.
Russ Myers, GCSAA certified golf course superintendent at Southern Hills Country Club and fellow GCSAA Class A member Mike Wooten, CGCS at Cedar Ridge Country Club in nearby Broken Arrow, Okla., will host two rounds of stroke play Aug. 24-25, following two days of practice rounds. After the field of 312 is pared to 64 golfers, Southern Hills will host five days of match play Aug. 26-30. Both Myers, who hosted the 2007 PGA Championship at Southern Hills, and Wooten, who has hosted five LPGA Tour events in his 23 years at Cedar Ridge, know what it takes to provide championship conditions in August in Oklahoma.
“Every year it just schools you over and over again,” said Wooten, who has experienced Oklahoma summers throughout his career of more than three decades. “You never get it figured out; something new always pops up. This year we had our August heat through most of June.”
“It’s a lot of consecutive mowing and traffic problems, and managing that wear visually can be an issue, said Myers, a 15-year GCSAA member. “But the real challenge is the time that staff is there. Plus, in match play we have to leave the course conditions as they are until the last match is completed each day.”
Cedar Ridge is a long, tight, parkland 7,400-yard, par 70 with water in play on 11 holes. It was designed by Joe Finger and built by Joe Sanders with C.R. Sanders Inc. Players who start at No. 10 face a daunting turn because holes 16, 17, 18 and 1 are all par 4s averaging 500 yards among them. The Kentucky bluegrass rough is 2 3/4 inches tall and Wooten has the bentgrass greens rolling 11 feet on the Stimpmeter.
Southern Hills is a shorter, parkland, 6,931-yard, par 70 designed and built by Perry Maxwell. Per the USGA’s request, Myers has changed the heavy rough between No. 13 and No. 16 greens, as well as near No. 17 green, to low-cut areas for more risk/reward situations and traditional shot-making. He has the bermudagrass/tall fescue rough at 2 1/4 inches high and the bentgrass greens rolling 12 feet on the Stimpmeter.
“Because of the trend Mike Davis (USGA senior director of rules and competitions) and the USGA have established, I think we’ll see some of the tees on the par 4s here actually come forward some days to try and get the players to go for it,” Myers said.
Southern Hills has played host to the 1970, 1982, 1994, 2007 PGA Championship, 1946 U.S. Women’s Amateur, 1953 U.S. Junior Amateur, 1958, 1977, 2001 U.S. Open, 1961 U.S. Senior Amateur, 1965 U.S. Amateur, 1987 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, and the 1995-1996 PGA Tour Championship. Cedar Ridge hosted the 1983 U.S. Women’s Open, LPGA’s John Q. Hammons Hotel Classic from 2004-07 and the 2008 SemGroup Classic, as well as the 2001 Senior Challenge National Championship and the 1974 Trans-Mississippi Four-Ball Championship.
An Odessa, N.Y., native, Myers is in his third year at Southern Hills. He spent the eight years prior to his arrival in Tulsa as the head superintendent at Card Sound Golf Club in Key Largo, Fla. Before that, he worked four years as an assistant-in-training at Augusta (Ga.) National. Myers holds a bachelor’s degree in ornamental horticulture from S.U.N.Y. Cobleskill.
Wooten, who is from Webers Falls, Okla., is a 33-year GCSAA member. Prior to taking his current post at Cedar Ridge, Wooten was the superintendent at Stillwater (Okla.) Country Club for four years. He was the assistant superintendent at Ponca City (Okla.) Country Club before that. Wooten holds a bachelor’s degree in turfgrass science from Oklahoma State University.
For more about the preparations of Myers and Wooten, read GCM Senior Staff Writer Terry Ostmeyer’s U.S. Amateur preview in the August issue of GCSAA’s official magazine.
The Golf Course Superintendents Association of America 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.