OK, so this is the last part of my interview with Greg Norman. In this section, we talk about what's new in turf, which Norman product is his favorite, and what he considers a perfect day.
Hopefully I've not bored you all with this. I know personally, I see a lot of this type of reporting (question and answer format) out there. I'll read it from beginning to end if it's with someone I really like... like Eddie Vedder, lead singer of Pearl Jam. It gives you an insight into who they are, what they speak like, etc. Hopefully this has served as a good extra to the regular feature story.
Here we go...
GCM: Just during that press conference, you were asked about the effect golf equipment changing has had on the sport… you probably get that question twice a day. But does anyone ever ask you about maintenance equipment changing, and its effect?
Norman: I always bring it up. I even mentioned it in there. We’re putting on fairways now, in certain parts of the world, that we used to putt on as greens, speed-wise. That can only come with the blades, the leading blades, the mowers… the old days, when we used to mow the greens with a tri-plex, you really weren’t getting a real fine cut with it. Because of the weight of the heads. Nowadays, you can get a tri-plex and you can cut it down, before we were using those single mowers. They’ve got to be aware of that. Not only on top of that, understanding the fertilizers.
GCM: What do you think Old Tom Morris would say about the maintenance of golf today?
Norman: I wonder what Tom Morris would say about the clothes we wear? (laughs) I think anybody, the older you get, it’s interesting to look back on the generation. And I’ve been around now for nearly a generation and a half. I was in my 30s and I’d hear somebody like Arnold Palmer or Sam Snead make comment, ‘oh, yeah, back in our day, it was like this,’ You go, they’re living in the past, what bullshit.
But now you understand what they’re talking about. As each generational wave passes through the sport, you get to appreciate that moment in time that you’re in, more and more. And it’s the same with superintendents. Because you have the history and the knowledge of what’s changed over a period of time. Would I want to grow up in this world today? No. I like the years I grew up in, those 20, 25 years. I like that bubble that I came through, and I’m coming out the other side with more knowledge because of that bubble. And because I think that, to me, in relative terms, in hearing and reading about generations before me, this last bubble from the late 70s to the end of the 90s was the bubble of real technology change across the board – from agronomy to machinery to technology on the golf course, to the golf ball, to the players changing physically. Even the women golfers now, they’re getting... when we designed a golf course before, we talked about a 60-yard carry, now we talk about something like an 80-yard carry for an average woman. So all that’s really changing big time. Same with the average golfer now.
The average score is still the same, the mid 90s, high 90s. But the players are advancing and moving the ball further.
GCM: What’s your favorite Greg Norman brand? Or, more specifically, what’s your favorite job, of the many that you have?
Norman: Golf course design. Golf course design and the clothing are the two that I enjoy the most. They kind of live on in perpetuity, really. So golf course design.
And I’m a global person, and the game’s gone global more than ever before. I’ve always said the game of golf is global, and now it truly is a global game, especially from a construction standpoint.
GCM: What does the rest of your day entail?
Norman: Today, fly back. Gotta do a few things back… I got a dinner tonight, to go to, people down from New York. Up early tomorrow, I’ve got people down from New York in the office early in the morning…
GCM: What time do you usually get up in the morning?
Norman: This morning I was up at 5 till 5.
GCM: Is that pretty common?
Norman: Yeah, I wake up early. I don’t need more than… if I get 6 hours of sleep, I feel like I’ve slept a lot.
GCM: Any advice to give to get more productivity out of every day?
Norman: Just establish a plan. You just can’t wake up and say, “Ok, now what do I do?” and expect the day to go productively. You gotta wake up, or go to bed the night before, and say, ok tomorrow I got this, I got this, I got this, I got this, and when I’m done with this then I can go over here with some of my own time for working out, and then over here I can use this time over here…
It’s really setting goals on a daily basis. Setting a plan for yourself on a daily basis. And I think every great superintendent does that with the maintenance he has to be responsible for. He has to have a daily planner.
GCM: This is a general question, but are there any stories involving superintendents that stand out in your mind? We can revisit this question down the road if you need to think about it.
Norman: I have a great association with Tim Rappich at the Medalist GC. I don’t micromanage him. He’s the professional, I know what I’d like to see take place. I give Tim the ability to implement and do as he sees fit, to create a golf course that 250 members love to come play every time they play. I’m the president of the club, and there are some board members sometimes that come looking for his head. And he’s still there after 16 years.
GCM: Do you learn from Tim?
Norman: I probably learn more from Jason and Chris, who work for me, then I do from Tim… because I’m not there on a daily basis now. Because these guys really stay ahead of the game. Again I don’t micromanage my office, but they have to, because when they go build golf courses, they need to know what the state of the art this is, or the new grass this here, and when we talk about it, that’s when I learn…
GCM: OK, so let’s talk turf. What’s new in the turf world that you’re interested in keeping an eye on?
Norman: My jury is still out on paspalum. I have my feelings and opinions out on that… because, I think it just depends on the environment it’s in. And the understanding of the grass and the management of the grass. So, you need a period of time, whenever you bring out a new strain of grass. When it’s new, it’s new. Everybody is going to find out its nuances. So my jury is still out on that grass. It’s a beautiful looking grass… I even put it down on the driving range at the Medalist as a test deal. We’ve used it in a lot of places, but it’s about the management of it.
GCM: What’s your perfect day?
Norman: Could be… sometimes it could be just waking up and being at home. You’ve got to remember I’ve traveled so much my whole life. Sometimes it’s nice to just clean the garage. I did that yesterday for five and a half hours – clean the garage. I was on my own, had the music going… and you can eat off that floor now. And you know what? When people come back and see it, they go, “Holy shit, I never knew this thing looked so good!”
But you know, stuff like that. The day before, I was pressure washing for six hours. There’s the weekend that I absolutely loved doing. I was on my own, doing my own thing, living in my world. So there’s one day… how about that?
I'm in Overland Park, Kan., today, attending the Heartland Green Industry Expo. Robert Randquist, CGCS, is presenting his seminar, "Hazardous Duty... Basic Bunker Maintenance." That's where I'm sitting right now as I write this (the Overland Park Convention Center has a nice wireless signal).
Randquist has turned the tables on this room full of Midwestern superintendents. He's put us all in groups of 10 to 15, and has made us the green committee for an imaginary golf course. And he's asking tough questions: should a golfer ever have a buried lie in a bunker? Should the sand surface be smooth or furrowed? Can we determine the difference between a "fair" and an "unfair" bunker?
The results? The room is split 50/50, or 60/40, on most of these questions. So even the superintendents can disagree about how bunkers should play. Imagine the chaos on your green committee.
Here Norman talks about how American's have a "love affair" with lush and green golf courses, and how that's detrimental to the game. He also talks about what stage he wants to see a superintendent brought in on a new course construction.
GCM: Does your environmentalism go beyond golf? For example, do you do anything unique at home in order to be more environmental?
Norman: At home? Yeah. Unfortunately I’ve got a house at home that was built in 1902. If you built the same house nowadays, you’d build it very differently. But I know that I am very aware of it, the water usage standpoint, air conditioning standpoint. Out at Seven Lakes (his ranch in Colorado), very much so. At Seven Lakes, I rebuilt the river because it was degraded so bad. The banks were… the cattle would come down and silt it up… the river was degrading… a beautiful river. The White River that feeds into the Colorado. I made the effort to go in there and clean up a mile of the river. Even on the banks. Even my staff out there cannot believe the difference in the water. The fishablity of the water, the cleanness of the water, and the flow rate of the water.
GCM: OK, so you’re at the Golf Industry Show, you’re getting ready to accept the Old Tom Morris Award, there’s a huge crowd there to see you accept it --
Norman: I hope so!
GCM: Oh, there will be a good crowd, I’m sure. But I’d heard that GCSAA offered to give you an hour off to prepare for your speech, and someone -- I think it was Brian -- said, don’t give him an hour off… he doesn’t want an hour off. He wants to take care of business and not waste any time.
You’re always on the go, it seems. If you were going to write your next book on how to get the most out of every day, what would be the main point you’d emphasize in that book?
Norman: It’s very easy – DIN and DIP. Do It Now and Do It Properly. Why put off till tomorrow what can be done today? Even if it takes you just a little extra longer, just do it. And do a good job of it.
Procrastination does not exist in my vocab. Like I say to Brian, and a lot of things… I’ll tell him when I need a break. If I can get things done in half a day, I’ve got a half day to myself. It’s as simple as that.
GCM: But how often do you need that time off? Do you ever just throw your hands up in the air and say, “I’m taking the day off!”
Norman: Oh yeah, sure. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Absolutely. I go away and work on the weekends at times. I go away to Colorado, and entertain a group of people that I’ve been involved with 15, 16 years. And that’s a Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Come back from there, I want to take Monday and Tuesday off.
But yeah, it’s an interesting balance, because when I travel, I’ve got to be aware that a lot of other people can’t keep going at the pace that I like to go at. I’ve changed a little bit, I must admit. Now I try and do all my trips Monday through Friday, because my staff has family and significant others and kids, and they want to be home with their families on the weekends. I was away on weekends and I didn’t like it, and my children didn’t like it. To this day they talk about it, so obviously it’s been imbedded in their mind for a long period of time, they’re 25 and 22. So I try to make every effort that my staff can be home with their families on the weekend.
GCM: Having played all over the world, you have a worldwide view on the game of golf. How is the job of the superintendent different – the expectations, say – different from here and abroad?
Norman: I wouldn’t even say it’s the superintendents. I think it’s the direction the superintendents are given by the greenskeeping committee. Because I think if the superintendent had his way… how do I put this the right way? I think in America here… the memberships have a love affair with lush and green. That’s really contrary to the way the game of golf should be played. If you go to Scotland, this is what always amazes me – you play these high-end, lush green country clubs, and a lot of Americans like to go to Ireland and Scotland and play these links courses. Why? Because it’s hard, it’s bouncy, the ball releases – it’s different golf. Here, it’s tough with the weather, Mother Nature dishes you out a lot of rain here. But they also do that in Scotland, England, Ireland, Australia. But it’s the soils are different and the preparation of the golf course is totally different. So that’s why.
It’s a love affair with green over here. It might be a little bit detrimental to the game of golf. I think if we look at the PGA Tour events for example, I’m seeing a change over a period of time – same with the USGA – with the U.S. Open, a change over a period of time, where now they have a lot of run-offs around the greens. Keep it firm, let that ball get away. I’ve always been a believer -- the further the ball gets away from the flag, the harder the shot, and the more compounded the shot, difficulty-wise, gets to get back there. These guys are really good out of 4-inch bluegrass with a sand wedge. They pop it up and roll it down there. Your defense is making the greens extremely fast.
Now they create these approaches, a la the MacKenzies and the Tillinghasts, where the ball ran off a lot. Now they’re finding it a little more difficult to play those shots. I think the big difference is, in Australia, superintendents are allowed to let the golf course brown out, dry out, just play the way it’s supposed to play. Ireland, Scotland, sometimes you don’t even put… I mean, St. Andrews only put down an irrigation system in the last 20 years. And I bet you they don’t even use it, they only use the sprinkler heads as yardage markers. That’s about it.
GCM: When you get a new design contract, how soon do you want the superintendent involved in the project?
Norman: I like to get them in as early as possible. Probably as soon as we begin shaping -- not the heavy dirt moving. Right in between heavy dirt moving and the shaping of the fairways. But definitely before irrigation and drainage comes in. Because he needs to know what’s going on underneath, he’s got to talk to us. And not everybody, not every owner does that. Normally they come on afterwards, sometimes they come on afterwards, but I like to have them working straight off the bat with us. Because any minor changes we do – you change the grade of a fairway from five degrees to three degrees – that’s a big difference on where that water is going to get off, what speed that water is going to get off and where that water is going to go. So, you know… as early as possible.
GCM: Is that something you convey to an owner, and what do you tell them if they disagree?
Norman: I try to explain to the owner, think five years out. Don’t think now. You might not want to spend money on a salary for six months, but that six months salary now is going to save you hundreds of thousands of dollars down the line. By knowing what’s gone right and what’s gone wrong. You’ve got to talk to them logically about it. Most of the time they come around on it.
Had an unexpected visitor at work last week... none other than Chase Austin, race car driver.
Never heard of Chase? Give him some more time. He's destined for glory, it seems.
I first learned of Chase Austin from his proud Aunt Lanie. Lanie is our career services manager at GCSAA. At the time, I was writing a weekly sports column for the Lawrence Journal-World as a side gig. Lanie approached me about her nephew as a possible story angle. Always hungry for a new story, I gave the Austin family a call, and was invited to their home.
That was six years ago. The 12-year-old boy I met back then is now an 18-year-old man. And he's also on the Rusty Wallace Inc. team, this last year as a driver on the Busch East tour, this next season on the regular Busch Tour.
No, Chase didn't remember me. "That was almost half my life ago," he said to Lanie, in his own defense. I'll admit, I'm a little heavier and a lot grayer than the last time we met. But I do have one thing going for me in the Chase Austin mythos, even if he doesn't remember me: I was the first journalist to ever interview him. Here's a link to the story, courtesy of the Journal-World. One word of warning -- the punctuation on this story didn't quite survive the LJWorld Web site redesign, so please forgive the lack of commas. Also, I wasn't the same writer then as I am today, though there is one excerpt I enjoyed from this old clip:
"In go-carts, you first learn to never jerk the wheel," he says. "And then it also teaches you that it's important that you ease out of the corners and let your engine RPM work with you, and you use the speed to build up."
Or something like that. Honestly, I didn't really understand what he was talking about. But I didn't have the nerve to ask a 12-year-old to explain the RPM thing to me like I was, well, a 12-year-old.
Anyway, I'm rooting for him to hit it big-time. A lot of people are, because he's a good kid. We chatted about his everyday wheels (a 2005 Corvette) and my everyday wheels (a 2002 Z28). Despite his success, he's got a good head on his shoulders. And it's also nice to see a minority do well in a sport where there's not a lot of diversity.
So, good seeing you again, Chase. Keep up the good work. And watch those RPMs.
Lawrence was hit by an ice storm last night. It's been raining here this morning, but the temperature has remained at 32 degrees... let's hope it stays that way. The photo is the view from my window here on the 4th floor of GCSAA HQ...
OK, Greg Norman interview part II. Him and Bubba Watson almost won the Merrill Lynch Shootout last weekend... good to see Norman out there playing golf.
In this part, we talk about what he likes about superintendents, and why he wanted to get involved with the Environmental Institute for Golf...
GCM: What do you like about the people that are superintendents, and what is a common factor that they all share?
Norman: I think the common factor would be more of these guys have to make an adaption to what they’ve learned, to what they have in that 300 acres, or 120 acres or whatever the acreage is. You might go to an agronomy school, somewhere in the South, and end up at a golf course in Colorado. Some of the people I admire are the guys who can make that transition from one style of grass to another style of grass and do it seamlessly. Because there are a lot of differences in the soils and sand in the type of grasses you can put on them.
In Australia, for example it’s unique in its own right, down in the southern sand belt areas of Melbourne, because you have a Sutton’s mix, which is a grass we have on the greens down there -– it’s been around for maybe a century. It’s a mixture of five different grasses, on the putting green and it originated out of New Zealand. Because of the cold temperatures that can come in and the hot summers we have down there, the greens are always playable. Instead of using a transitional with rye, overseeding with rye on Bermuda, we always had three or four or five different grasses that could take care of it. And that to me was impressive to understand and learn about. I don’t know a lot about it, but I know the application and the application works. They’ve tried, they’ve gone into Royal Melbourne, for example, about 15 years ago, took out all the Sutton’s mix, tried to come back in with Penncross and A4 and (it) never worked. And now they’ve gone back to Sutton’s mix. So, again, there’s that greenkeeper committee, trying to keep up with technology, on the golf course, why change when the system is working?
GCM: We’ve got to talk about the Environmental Institute for Golf.
GCM: Tell me how you got involved with them in the first place…
Norman: Well, I think again, it goes to, how big do you want your soapbox? They asked me to come in, just to be a, kind of like a figurehead. I told them I don’t want to be a figurehead. You guys have a wonderful platform here, it just depends on how you want to use your platform. And for a lot of reasons I said, I said I’ll go out there and I’ll be involved, but I want to be INVOLVED. I want to be involved by making more people aware that golf courses are good for the environment, not bad for the environment. To make sure that people understand that during golf course construction, the environmentalists, we work hand and glove together. We don’t fight each other.
When I first played golf in the late ‘70s early ‘80s in Europe, golf was looked on as an elitist sport and (for) degradation to the environment. I’ll never forget that. And it always ticked me off big-time, because when you look at the other way –- take a look at a residential community with no golf course -– they slash and burn and take everything down. You just take a look at state and federal governments, when they put a new freeway system, roadway system through, they don’t care about a wetland or a marsh. They just “shooo!” (wipes arm in a clearing motion) put them through there, they’re gonna go there. They don’t care about the runoff of the roads, they don’t care about the runoff off a supermarket, or a car park, where the water goes down a drain and gets flushed right into the ocean. We, as in golf courses, we control our runoff.
And yet everyone pointed there finger, they say, 'these guys, they pollute our waterway systems.' Well, I’ll tell you what –- we’re a hell of a lot cleaner than the majority of other things that are built out there. So I figure, these are my passions, these are my beliefs, these are the things I see take place… I said, you know, the EIFG… platform, soapbox, how big do you want it to be?
And I knew it’d be a slow process. Because to change the mentality that’s been built up over maybe half a century, overnight?… It’s gonna take time. And again, it’s making people aware, and brining people in. The people I have coming in on my advisory board are pretty high-profile powerful individuals in the world of golf. They understand the message. So, 1 turns to 2, 2 turns to 4, 4 to 8, 8 to 16, 16 to 32. So you see a doubling up, that’s the message I want to get out there -- golf is a pure game, and if done properly, it’ll work at protecting the environment. But again, done properly. Nobody’s ever written a booklet on the environment issues and sensitivity issues on building a golf courses and how we can do it. So write a book. Write a pamphlet. That’s the process we’re on right now.
GCM: You said it’s been a slow process. Has progress not come as quickly as you had thought?
Norman: To get the awareness out there? It’s taking a little bit longer than what I’d thought.
But a lot of people get asked into doing a lot of things. I get asked into a lot of advisory boards. Or to help other people. You have to be passionate about it and believe in it. But you’ve got to keep (knocks on table) knocking on the doors. You know? You got to send out your fliers and talk to them about it.
Steve Mona did a great job with it, unfortunately he’s leaving… but he did a great job with it because he believed in it. We’ll find his replacement, we’ll find a good believer in it. At the same time… I wouldn’t say I’m disappointed, I’m not saying that. Just probably a little bit slower than what I thought.
GCM: So is the EIFG a program you see yourself continuing to support in the future?
Norman: I don’t see any reason why I shouldn’t. It’s a great connector for me. I build golf courses. I understand it. I understand it from the sensitivity of a snail at Doonbeg (Golf Course in Ireland) to the harshness of a salt mine -- man, I’ve got a dichotomy of the pieces of property I’ve built up.
Hello! OK, I'm back in the office... I got hit with a virus and had to take two sick days, but I'm almost back to normal now, thankfully.
By now, you've hopefully received your December issue of Golf Course Management. As promised in the "Inside GCM" column, I'll be posting the entire Norman interview, unedited, here on the GCM blog. I'm going to break it up into parts so it's not one giant block of text. As you'll see in this first part, Norman was excited to talk to me about our industry... so excited, he took a statement I made and spun it into a question so he could talk about the industry. Pretty good stuff.
GCM: What was your first thought when you heard you were going to win the Old Tom Morris Award?
Greg Norman: I’ve got to admit I was very pleasantly surprised… sometimes, when you’re out of the world of sport, for example you feel like you… sometimes you feel good, like you’ve been forgotten, which is good, in some ways. And then when I got the announcement I went, “whoa.” And then I had to do a little research into it to, but just the name itself tells you the history of it. It’s a great honor, one I’m looking forward to accepting, because it shows there’s a lot more depth of doing things for our sport, and our profession, then just getting out there and chasing a white ball around.
GCM: For our magazine, we have a unique readership, a special niche in golf – the superintendents, their assistants, the crew members --
Norman: Well, let me just, you didn’t ask a question, but I’ll answer it like a question. I’ve always been a huge supporter of you guys, because, not just here in America, but all over the world… when I grew up in Australia, I learned how to topdress the golf course of the Virginia Golf Club with chicken shit, ok? Chicken manure. And we used to go about 20 members every… once a year, and we’d go to the local chicken farm, and we used to shovel it all ourselves. Put it in the back of trucks, take it to the golf club and break it down, and throw it across the golf course. And I worked with the superintendent on that, and I’m real proud of seeing what we did. Was what we did stuff we should have been doing? Probably shouldn’t have been doing. But at the end of the day our golf course looked great all of the time.
It just goes to show you what… the behind the scenes, the effort that takes place with the superintendents of golf courses. And it also put a little bit of a better understanding for me that these guys are the unsung heroes. And the reason why I say that so passionately is because the responsibility they have… when you’re president of a golf course, which I am, we take it all for granted. The members, 250 members or 500 members or 1,000 members, they come to you and complain about why the green doesn’t roll as good as it should do. But they never understand the reasons why. The superintendent has to be the be-all, end-all of everything. Think about the money they actually control across the board basis… the knowledge they got to have… they have to work with human resources… they have to be mechanically inclined… they’ve got to be engineers in a lot of ways. And then they’ve got to put up with what mother nature throws down on them. Which can be a son of a bitch. And they get the blame. If any one thing goes wrong, they get the blame. I’ve seen a lot of good people get the bullet for the wrong reasons. Because a greens committee, in their infinite wisdom, whether they’re professional doctors or lawyers or whatever, they’ll say, well the greens aren’t good. Why? Oh, John Smith over there didn’t do a good job. They didn’t know that there’d been about 20 inches of rain… you know the story. I felt like they needed a bit more support behind the scenes.
I’ll give you, even with the PGA Tour, for example, we walk in there to a Golf course one week a year. And we take it for granted. I bet you very few of the players that play write a thank you letter to the superintendent. Saying, thanks for presenting a great golf course this week, we look forward to coming back next year. They expect it. Which is sad. They get up at 4:30 in the morning, and their family lives – in fact they still have to be there on a Saturday you know? And on a Sunday, probably, sometimes. So I have the utmost respect for them. So when I get the award – it shows that you understand a lot more about the complexities of the game and what it needs to make this game flow smoothly.
GCM: How did you learn about that? You mentioned Charlie Earp in your book… that you interacted with him… did you previously know anything about the superintendent?
Norman: No, not at all, heck I was a junior member. I didn’t know anything about it. You go into the maintenance building to say hello to the guys every now and then, because you’re on the golf course so much they get to know you. Right? I always practice early in the morning and late in the evening, early in the morning was when you see them. So you see the changes in technology from a gang mower pulled by a tractor to where it is today, where you cut fairways with a triplex. They used to cut greens with (a triplex)! I learned enough early on, by seeing what the guys did, to appreciate what they do.
GCM: And apparently you didn’t mind getting your hands dirty, if you’d shovel chicken manure…
Norman: Oh yeah, no problem. I wouldn’t have a problem going digging an irrigation ditch or doing a French drain or repairing a bunker or putting down some sod, or anything like that. I wouldn’t have a problem doing that.
More from Norman.... next week!
The pending court battle between Bayer CropScience and Nufarm Americas has ended before it began.
The two companies jointly announced today a settlement to the lawsuit Bayer had filed against Nufarm for infringement on its patent for the pesticide imidacloprid on fertilizer. Under terms of the agreement summarized in a Bayer news release, Nufarm acknowledged that Bayer's patent was "valid and enforceable" but did receive the OK to continue the production and sale of fertilizer products that contained the patented technology. All other claims and counterclaims related to this suit have been withdrawn.
Bayer is continuing its legal fight with Etigra LLC in a similar matter, asserting that Etigra had infringed on the same patent for imidacloprid on fertilizer.
So, you may be asking, where the heck have I been the last couple of months? Or more likely, you had no idea that I had posted almost nothing on this site since the end of September, leaving most of the heavy lifting in the capable hands of Mr. Seth Jones and the rest of GCM's staff.
Whatever camp you fall in, the answer to the question is the same and it's a long and not-very-interesting one. I may offer the details down the line a bit, more as a cautionary tale than anything, but I'll just leave it at this -- it involved a couple of trips to the hospital for some outpatient surgery, a full month out of the office and more catching up once I returned than I'd wish on even my worst enemy. But I am glad to be back, glad to be back on the blog and ready for what promises to be a crazy next couple of months as we gear up for the big GCSAA Education Conference and Golf Industry Show in late January/early February.
Well I'm back home in Lawrence, Kan., now. Good to be back. Guadalajara was a great trip, and I hope you don't mind me sharing more from that trip here in the next few days, including some photos and a few stories.
On my last day there, I got in a quick stop at Guadalajara Country Club before my flight left. In the first photo, you see the view from the restaurant. The weather there is so nice that they have an open-air restaurant that overlooks the golf course. Just a really picturesque setting. Great breakfast there, too (in hindsight, I enjoyed every meal I had in the Guad). Ricky asked how often a golf ball sails into the restaurant. "Sometimes, right into your coffee," laughed the superintendent.
That's the superintendent in the second photo, Fernando Varela, a 17-year Superintendent Member of GCSAA. He really made us feel at home while we were there at the course, hosting us for breakfast and then taking us out to the course for a quick tour. We also met greens chairman Jorge Urrea, who joined us for breakfast and for the tour. Both men are excited for next year's LPGA tournament that will be hosted at the course, the first Lorena Ochoa Invitational (Nov. 13-16). "We have to start getting ready for it right now," Urrea said, "Even though we're a year out."
To help them get ready, LPGA Tour agronomist John Miller was en route to the course. Our paths did not cross -- he was arriving as I was departing -- but he was scheduled to visit the course and help Varela and his crew prepare for hosting the ladies. I did not envy Miller's schedule... he was flying in and out of Guadalajara on the same day. Ouch!