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Superintendent has Congressional Ready for U.S. Open


Michael Giuffre, Golf Course Superintendents Association of America Class A director of golf course maintenance at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Md., has the Blue Course fast and firm for the U.S. Open June 16-19.

"It's been a little warmer than our cool-season grasses would prefer the last few days," said Giuffre, who is hand watering the bentgrass greens to keep the exact amount of moisture needed for each putting surface. "The course looks great and is playing exactly how the USGA wants it - a tough, but fair, test."

Giuffre (pronounced joo-free) is a 26-year GCSAA member and has been at Congressional for the past 12 years. He has a turfgrass management degree from Penn State University. This U.S. Open will be the 16th professional tournament Giuffre has hosted, a list going back to the 1986 and 1987 BC Opens he hosted as superintendent at EnJoie Golf Course in Endicott, N.Y., and includes the PGA Tour's AT&T National and Booz Allen Classic at Congressional, the Kemper Open at TPC Avenel, and the Champions Tour's Senior Players Championship at TPC Michigan.

"There are thousands of people involved with the conduct, the operations and the administration of a U.S. Open," said USGA Executive Director Mike Davis in a GCSAA TV interview. "I'm telling you the person that is most important to the success of a U.S. Open is the golf course superintendent. This is all about conducting a national championship. Mike and his staff have done such a great job with all the organization, all the things that needed to get done in the years leading up to it, that they are ready. They are just basically going to be reacting to what Mother Nature throws us."

All 19 Poa annua greens (including the practice green) were replaced in 2009 with A-1/A-4 bentgrass, while SubAir aeration and moisture removal systems and soil-moisture measuring systems were installed underneath each green. Using GPS mapping technology, each green was rebuilt to its exact original contours, with the exception of a few contouring modifications to slightly increase the amount of area that can support tournament hole locations. The two-year-old bentgrass putting surfaces are smooth, fast and firm.

"These greens complexes really put a premium on placing your shots into the right quadrant of the green," Giuffre said in Golf Course Management Editor-in-Chief Scott Hollister's U.S. Open preview, Anatomy of a renovation, in the June issue of GCSAA's magazine. "If approaches don't find the right part of the green, the area where the hole is located, they become very challenging."

The fescue rough will feature the USGA-favored graduated cuts to further penalize shots the further they land from the fairway. The first cut is an average of 18 to 20 feet wide and 3 to 4 inches tall, depending on the hole. The second cut of rough goes 18-20 feet further from the fairway and is 4-5 inches high.

"We've added tees to add length to the golf course," Giuffre said in Congressional Country Club prepares to host U.S. Open, a USA Today video. "And some of those tees are offset so they're not straight in line with the fairways. So the player is going to work the ball off the tee."

Giuffre's staff of 55 includes GCSAA members David Hutchinson, superintendent of courses and grounds; Derek Trenchard, Blue Course superintendent; and Tom Turi, Gold Course superintendent. They will be assisted tournament week by 120 volunteers a diverse group that includes superintendents, assistant superintendents, interns, turfgrass students and industry vendors from all over the world.

The Blue Course hosted the U.S. Open in 1964 and 1997, as well as the 1949 U.S. Junior Amateur, 1959 U.S. Women's Amateur, 1976 PGA Championship, 1980-86 Kemper Open, 1995 U.S. Senior Open, 2005 Booz Allen Classic, and the 2007-09 AT&T National. The Blue Course is ranked by various golf publications among the top golf courses in the U.S., and under Giuffre's direction, Congressional became a certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary this year as well. His staff manages a system of active Bluebird and Purple Martin nest boxes throughout the property.

The above report is courtesy of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. For more information, visit www.gcsaa.org.