Quiz: Which State Has Hosted the Most US Opens?

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Answer: New York. The Empire State has hosted a total of 18 championships. Next week, the 113th US Open kicks off at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pennsylvania. This year’s event puts Pennsylvania in second place with a grand total of 16 championships. Illinois rounds out third place with 13 championships. An average of 200,000 people attend America’s golf championship. There are forecasts that show US Opens generate an economic impact of $160 million for the host city and state.
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Here is a break down of the states and how many times they have hosted the US Open:
New York 18
Pennsylvania 16
Illinois 13
California 12 – Even though it seems more often
Massachusetts 9
New Jersey 8
Ohio 7
Michigan 6 – Thought it would be more with so many great courses
Maryland 5
Minnesota 4
Colorado 3
Oklahoma 3 – Hot time of the year to host an event
Texas 3
Missouri 2
North Carolina 2
Georgia 1 – They get the Masters every year so I don’t feel bad for them
Rhode Island 1 – Hosted the first US Open in 1895 and it has never returned
Shinnecock Hills Clubhouse by Eric J. von Hofen

Most frequent venues:
8 Opens: Oakmont Country Club – 1927, 1935, 1953, 1962, 1973, 1983, 1994, and 2007
7 Opens: Baltusrol Golf Club – 1903, 1915, 1936, 1954, 1967, 1980, and 1993
6 Opens: Oakland Hills Country Club – 1924, 1937, 1951, 1961, 1985, and 1996
5 Opens: Winged Foot Golf Club – 1929, 1959, 1974, 1984, and 2006
Pebble Beach Golf Links – 1972, 1982, 1992, 2000, and 2010
Olympic Club – 1955, 1966, 1987, 1998, and 2012
4 Opens: Myopia Hunt Club – 1898, 1901, 1905, and 1908
Inverness Club – 1920, 1931, 1957, and 1979
Merion Golf Club – 1934, 1950, 1971, and 1981
Shinnecock Hills Golf Club – 1896, 1986, 1995, and 2004

From 1942 – 1945 the Open was cancelled due to World War II. It was also cancelled from 1917 – 1918 due to World War I.

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Countries with the most winners:
United States 79
Scotland 14
England 5
South Africa 5
Australia 2
Northern Ireland 2
Jersey 2
Argentina 1
New Zealand 1

Just some fun facts to think about and to use with your buddies in the 19th Hole.

One more for you – Donald Ross has designed the majority of the courses that have hosted the US Open.

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Superintendent Salaries Don’t Match Today’s Mega Purses

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The numbers just don’t add up. The increased rate of prize money for professional golfers has experienced a meteoric rise, while many of us in the golf business have had the “pleasure” of gutting operating budgets over the last six years just to keep courses afloat and prices stable. There are a handful of operations that have pumped cash into their courses, but overall, budgets have not willingly increased. The costs of labor, fuel, insurance, parts, pesticides and fertilizers have all gone up every year, and the shell game of covering these increases has hit the wall. Cutting back on labor and/or not fertilizing your course in an effort to hit the budget is not an option any more. You should call your Superintendent “Superman” for keeping your course in the best possible condition given their resource restrictions. They need more money.

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According to the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America Compensation and Benefits Report, “Employers of GCSAA superintendents continue to reinforce the value they place in these golf course managers as the average salary for the profession in 2013 climbed to more than $82,500 annually.

The $82,573 average for all head superintendents (Classes A and SM) is an increase of $1,529 (1.9 percent) over 2011 salaries, and continues the trend of increases every year since GCSAA began tracking such data in 1993. The 1993 average was $44,500, meaning the 2013 figure is an 86 percent increase.

Certified golf course superintendents (CGCSs) are those who have achieved the highest level of recognition through education, service and experience. Their average salary of $98,187 in 2013 is a 3.1 percent increase over the 2011 average of $95,264.”

The yearly salary ranges for superintendents that host a professional event are from $125,000 to $400,000, according to GuideStar.org. It’s a huge range and the operating budgets are all over the place.

An increase of 86 percent in twenty years sounds good but doesn’t even come close to the increases in prize money for a professional golfer to pocket for just four days of work on your course. I have been a part of thirteen televised golf championships in the last twenty years, and have tracked superintendent salaries and budgets, as well as player prize money. I remember the days when the PGA TOUR actually paid the host Club a site fee of $250,000. Today, the PGA TOUR wants the Club to donate $250,000 to them for the privilege of hosting the event. It will cost a sponsor anywhere from $4.5 million to $8.0 million to get their name in lights for a PGA TOUR event. Pretty crazy isn’t it? Some of the money that is generated from the event does go to charity however, the majority of the money goes home with the players.

Here are the break downs of just how fast and big the some of the purses have grown.

The Ford Championship at Doral
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2004 Craig Parry Australia 271 (-17) $900,000
Total purse $5,000,000
A year later at Doral.
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2005 Tiger Woods (1) United States 264 (-24) $990,000
Total purse $5,500,000

I ran the 2004 and 2005 Ford Championship Tournaments at Doral (I also ran the 2006 tournament) and I can assure you neither my budget nor my salary increased at all from 2004 to 2005. On the contrary, we cut expenses by 15%. I had to work three months straight without a day off, and guess what my prize was? A cool picture with Tiger on the #18 green.

Tiger Woods won this year’s WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral and took home $1,400,000.
Total purse of $8,750,000

The US Open is right around the corner and the money purse is bigger then ever.
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2013 June 13–16 Merion Golf Club, East Course Ardmore, Pennsylvania Winner $1,520,000
Total purse projected to be over $8,000,000

2003 Jim Furyk Olympia Fields Country Club, North Course Olympia Fields, Illinois 272 (−8) $1,080,000
Total purse $6,000,000

The US Open will reflect a $2,000,000 increase over the last ten years; a difference for the winner of an additional $444,000.

Oh by the way, if you win the US Open, you are pretty much set for life.

Superintendents that are in the spotlight should be paid accordingly. Putting in long hours away from families, battling mother nature, managing golfers expectations, massaging tight budgets, combined with expanding job responsibilities and tournament stress, should equal more of that mega prize money hitting their, and the crew’s, paychecks.

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Blowing Up The Blue Monster

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The Blue Monster has been changed forever. Construction is well under way and Trump is taking things to a whole new level at Doral. The entire Resort in being upgraded. Hotel rooms, lobby, entrance way, meeting rooms, and restaurants are all getting a much needed infusion of cash from Mr. Trump.

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These pictures where taken from the TV tower on #16 green. Elevated tees and more water will be in play for the resort golfer and the PGA Tour players.

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This is the new lake being dug on hole #15. This will be a tough par 3 for sure. I can’t wait the see the end product later this year. I will keep you updated.

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New Streamsong Resort In Florida Makes A Big Statement

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Streamsong, a new 36-hole resort project in Polk County, Florida, is open for business. The resort is owned and operated by the Mosaic Company. Streamsong is located between Tampa and Orlando. Three big time architects got the tap for this job. Tom Doak designed 18 holes called Streamsong Blue, and Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore designed the other 18 holes called Streamsong Red.

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With this powerful design team at the helm, this project was guaranteed for greatness. The designers had an absolute one-of-a-kind piece of land to work with.

Streamsong Resort under construction
The two courses are built on a 16,000 acre site formerly mined for phosphate.


The resort is slated to have 140 guest rooms and a spa with enough land to build more rooms and golf courses if needed. The Walking Rate for 18 holes is $175 and for Florida Resident’s the rate is $135.00.

I can’t wait to see how the project turns out longterm.

I feel these two courses will receive great reviews in the 2013 rankings.
Let me know what you think.

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The Next Generation of Tee Lines

Installing new Turfhound Mats by Eric J. von Hofen
When it comes to practice tee surface area, size does matter. Sometimes there is no other option when the practice area turf does not meet the requirements of the afternoon driving range junkies. You have to something to hit off of and Turfhound has what you need.

Removing old range mat material by Eric J. von Hofen
I look at it like this, Turfhound has developed the 5th generation of synthetic practice area material. Twenty five years ago, I remember hitting off of small pieces of Astro Turf at driving ranges in Northern Ohio. It worked and we didn’t know any better. Then we had the continuos roll of Astro Turf and we thought was great. One day someone thought to add sand and ground up tires into the Astro Turf. That didn’t work. Then developers looked at Nylon as a better surface to hit off of and it was for about six months until the sun and heavy use compacted the material. Polyester was next in line and that worked for about a year and a half. Polyethylene, the main ingredient in PVC, is the latest and greatest. In the picture above, we are removing a two year old tee line made of polyester.

The Turfhound mat is installed in interlocking pieces by Eric J. von Hofen
The TurfHound’s modular design makes it easy to add or remove turf panels and frame to adjust length as desired. I really like this option because we can spread out the wear and tear throughout the entire tee line.


This unique design allows the golfer to have three different options to hit from. Off the deck, off a tee and out of the rough. The moment you step on a TurfHound Tee Surface, you can feel the amazing difference compared to a conventional golf mat. It’s just like you’re standing on natural turf. Swing a club, hit a ball and the sensation continues. There’s no club-head bounce as you swing down and through the ball. No painful shocks to your wrists, elbows and shoulders. We installed this product three days ago and have received an incredible amount of positive feedback. If you are looking for another option to solve your tee line problem contact Rick Reynolds at Turfhound. His number is 877.377.3100.

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Are You Getting On The Celebration Train?

Celebration Bermudagrass Fairways in Northern Palm Beach County by Eric J. von Hofen
Celebration Bermudagrass continues to stake it’s claim in the golf course renovation market. More and more courses have switched out their contaminated 419 fairways to Celebration using a no till method. Palm Beach Country is the epicenter of the Celebration explosion. The switch out costs around $125,000 and takes about three months to grown in.

Celebration Bermudagrass Fairways in South Florida by Eric J. von Hofen

If you have managed any type of turfgrass during the last ten years, you probably have seen a few things change. Maybe not as many changes as your cell phone or computer, but pretty close. I moved to Palm Beach 1992 and the course I worked on had 419 Fairways, 328 tees and 328 greens. During these twenty years, I have seen numerous grasses come and go. From winter overseeding with Ryegrass to GN-1 to Tifsport. This is not to mention the boom of paspalum and new ultra dwarf bermudas for greens and tees.

Turf samples from a course in Miami, Fl by Eric J. von Hofen
My current 1925 Donald Ross golf course in Miami has eight different grasses on it. Some of them are still hanging around from when the place was built and we can’t get rid of them. Is Celebration our answer? It seems to be. Everyone I have talked to, that has switched to Celebration, has done it for these three reasons. Maintain a uniform stand of turf, playability and the striking green color. There is a price to pay for perfection though, Celebration needs a fair amount of verticutting and likes to be cut tightly.

According to the official Celebration web site, Celebration Bermudagrass is an Australian Breed Cynodon dactylon developed by renowned turfgrass breeder Rod Riley. Celebration delivers everything a superior turfgrass should: durability, exceptional recovery, softness, drought resistance and unmatched beauty.

Soft Texture

Cold tolerant

Extreme drought tolerance

More shade tolerance

Exceptional wear tolerance and divot recovery

Striking blue-green color

Uses: Home Lawns – Commercial Landscapes – Parks & Rec – Golf Courses – Sports Fields

I would like to hear your thoughts about Celebration. From a maintenance standpoint to your experiences in playability, let us know.

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The North Carolina Golf Season Ends on a High Note

Wildcat Cliffs in Highlands, NC by Eric J. von Hofen
I recently had the opportunity to visit a few golf courses in Highlands, North Carolina. Highlands is located about a two hour and forty five minute drive from Atlanta. The small golf towns of Cashiers and Highlands are perched on a plateau in the southern Appalachian Mountains, within the Nantahala National Forest. There are only 960 full time residents that call Highlands home. During the summer golf season, which starts in March and ends in early November, the area swells to 10,000 to 15,000 people. This vacation spot draws large numbers of Southerners from the oppressive summertime heat and humidity found throughout much of the region. The elevation of 3,832 feet provides cool days and perfect weather to grow Bentgrass.

Fall color change in North Carolina by Eric J. von Hofen

The golf courses I visited reported that they experienced an increase in rounds and revenue this summer. Two courses even reported an increase in membership sales and a increase in home sales. Could this be a sign? The course conditions and weather were perfect while I was there. I see why people migrate to the Highlands. This area is one of the best spots in the Country to enjoy the Fall explosion of color that sweeps across the mountain landscape. This weekend should be the peak of the viewing season

My top five courses in the Highlands/Cashiers area are as follows:
1. Wade Hampton Golf Club
2. Highlands Country Club
3. Mountaintop Golf Club
4. Cullasaja Golf Course
5. Old Edwards Golf Course

Some of these courses are super exclusive and you can only play with a member. I have attached links to each one of these courses for your viewing pleasure.

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Heavy Rains Impact Course Conditions in South Florida

HEAVY RAIN FALL IN MIAMI THIS SUMMER 2012 BY Eric J. von Hofen
Is it ever going to stop raining? Many golf courses in South Florida have just been hammered with heavy rains this summer. Here in Miami, we have received all of our yearly rain fall by October 5th. I have been hearing rain fall totals over 70 and 80 inches in this area. Naples is coming in around 45 inches and Palm Beach in the mid 70’s. It’s incredible to think that other parts of the United States are still feeling the grip of the summer drought.

According to the latest USGA Green Section report, many courses are feeling the affects of a variety of turfgrass diseases. Courses with Champion Bermudagrass greens are in the roughest shape. Bermudagrass decline and pythium have been discovered and are actively being treated. Tifeagle and MiniVerde are not much better. Aggressive topdressing and spray programs are being used to battle out breaks of algae and thinning turf on the edges of greens.
Tifeagle Green in Miami after 70 inches of rain by Eric J. von Hofen
The Farmers Almanac is forecasting a wet and cold winter for the Southeast and above normal temperatures for the West Coast of the United States. For all of us turf managers, I hope they are wrong.

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Light Up Your Golf Course

Landscape lights at work in Miami by Eric J. von Hofen
Are you missing an opportunity to show off your Club’s number one asset? How many times have you attended an event at your Club where you found yourself looking off the balcony into a sea of black? Well we realized what we were missing and did something about it.

I hired Vernon Daniel Associates, a landscape illumination company, who specializes on bringing landscape to life. Luis Castro of Vernon Daniel, came to my golf course three times to review the area and identify key trees to light up.
Vernon Daniel Lighting Design by Eric J. von Hofen
He designed a theme using a mix of lights to show off the lay of the land. We had strict requirements that we needed to be able to see the entire fairway on #18 while sitting at the bar inside the clubhouse.

1000 watt light installed in a oak tree in Miami, Fl
Luis installed three 1000 watt lights, in the oak trees, that illuminate the turf on the fairways. This gives you the depth of the property and the most bang for your buck.
250 Watt light for a landscape design by Eric J. von Hofen
They installed thirteen 250 watt lights at the bases of some of the larger oaks and then added the same hardware to the top of the trees shinning down. This process creates a moon lighting effect that can be seen hundreds of yards away.

LED LIGHT installed on a Date Palm by Eric J. von Hofen
Luis used seventeen, high intensity, custom LED lights to soften his design but still show off the mass of the tree trunks. The light in this picture brings this $15,000 Date Palm to life every night. We have received great feedback from our members and have seen increase of business on the balcony at night. Give Luis at Vernon Daniel a call for your next project. His office number is 561-586-2538.

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Trump Continues to Mix it up at Doral

New Trump fountain at Doral Resort in Miami
Donald Trump wasted no time installing his signature fountain at Doral Resort in Miami. Mr. Trump purchased Doral back in February for $150 million dollars and started renovations to the entire property almost immediately. Team Trump has installed two new irrigation systems on the Red and Gold courses, purchased over $4 million dollars of turf equipment, hired a new team of turf professionals to manage the place, and reportedly spent $150,000 on this new fountain.

Here is a picture of the old fountain behind the putting green at Doral. This fountain was first built for the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. The former Doral owners, Al and Doris Kaskel, bought the famous fountain, shipped it to Miami and installed it for the world to see. If you look closely in this picture you can see a bust of Al Kaskel. The Kaskel’s travelled around the world purchasing art work and statues. They spread these treasures around the Doral property for their guests to enjoy. Today many of these art works are gone. I hope Mr. Trump brings them back and keeps some of the Doral history.
1964 World's Fair Fountain at Doral Resort in Miami, Florida
Trump will tackle the Blue Monster, with golf course designer Gil Hanse, after the 2013 PGA TOUR World Golf Championship. Many of the common areas and hotel rooms are receiving a face lift as we speak. I can’t wait to see these much needed improvements to this historical resort over the next year.

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