David Wienecke, Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) Class A superintendent at Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash., has prepared a long, fast and firm test on fine fescue grass for the U.S. Amateur Championship Aug. 23-29.
“The 110th U.S. Amateur being conducted this year at Chambers Bay is sure to be both memorable and unique,” said Mike Davis, USGA senior director of rules and competition. “Only a small percentage of national championships played in the last century have been conducted on courses where fine fescue is the predominant grass, and only a handful have been played on fine fescue putting greens. Managing fine fescue takes a special set of agronomic skills. Dave Wienecke is a true specialist in this field. He is a wonderfully dedicated superintendent who surely will prepare Chambers Bay to the highest standards for this country’s oldest golf championship.”
Chambers Bay is a 7,754-yard, par 71 links-style course rolling between massive dunes and sprawling waste areas beside Puget Sound. It was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr., Bruce Charlton and Jay Blasi, and built in 2006 by Heritage Links on the site of a former sand and gravel mine. It features fine fescue grass wall-to-wall, with the rough at 3 1/2 inches high and 6-plus inches tall in the dunes. The fairways range in width from approximately 28 to 105 yards, and the smooth, firm greens are rolling 10-11 feet on the Stimpmeter. At 7,754 yards, Chambers Bay is the longest course to ever host a USGA Championship. Chambers Bay will also host the 2015 U.S. Open.
“Everything is looking great and it is really, really firm,” said Wienecke, a 15-year GCSAA member. “We are right on track with our preparations and have the golf course right where we want it.”
Chambers Bay is a public works project undertaken and owned by the residents of Pierce County, Wash. It is the first municipal course to host the U.S. Amateur. Like its model of many towns in Scotland that built golf courses for the public recreation of their citizens, Chambers Bay is part of a larger park system complete with walking paths that wind around and through the dunes on the course beside Puget Sound.
Wienecke (pronounced win-eck-E) has a bachelor’s degree in general science from the University of Oregon, a master’s degree in horticulture from Oregon State University and he is a Certified Professional Agronomist. He has been at Chambers Bay for five years and was previously a USGA Green Section regional agronomist. Wienecke has Chambers Bay certified as a Silver Signature Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.
The Home Course in DuPont, Wash., is the assisting course for the U.S. Amateur and, along with Chambers Bay, will host two rounds of stroke play Aug. 23-24, following two days of practice rounds. After the field of 312 is pared to 64 golfers, Chambers Bay will host five days of match play Aug. 25-29.
The Home Course, with its rolling ryegrass fairways, contoured bentgrass greens and a minimum of water and trees, will play to 7,317 yards and par 72. It opened three years ago at the same time as Chambers Bay and also provides views of Puget Sound. The Home Course hosted the Sahalee Players Championship the first week of August on behalf of Sahalee Country Club in Sammamish, Wash., which hosted the U.S. Senior Open July 29-Aug. 1. It also serves as a venue for junior golf programs, caddie programs, environmental stewardship and turfgrass research, some Washington State Golf Association (WSGA) and Pacific Northwest Golf Association (PNGA) championships and USGA national championship sectional qualifiers.
“We are very happy with the position the golf course is in right now,” said Kelton Donaldson, GCSAA superintendent at the Home Course. “We recovered from the Sahalee Players Championship just fine and will reduce irrigation advance week to get green speeds up to 13. We’re on a sandy gravel base, so it’s generally pretty firm and it won’t take much to keep the fairways rolling.”
Donaldson is a 14-year GCSAA member and has a bachelor’s degree in crop science from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. He has the Home Course registered in the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program and is working toward Audubon certification. Donaldson is involved with the Washington State University extension office, doing research studies at the Home Course on transitioning from synthetic to organic fertilizers.
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.