Part of the allure of the Ryder Cup is the presence of past captains who bask in the adulation of fans and media. They tell stories that were sworn to secrecy in the past, but are now shared as if they are giving away state secrets. But one team leader who will be flying under the radar this week will be playing anything but a ceremonial role.
Mark Wilson, CGCS (pictured right), is a member of Medinah CC's maintenance team this week, serving under the direction of Curtis Tyrrell, CGCS, mG, director of golf course operations at Medinah. Wilson, a 34-year GCSAA member, has an impressive resume including hosting 1996 and 2000 PGA Championships, and the 2008 Ryder Cup at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky. Now owner of a sod farm and a turf consultant, Wilson has been at the beck and call of Tyrrell for the past year.
“Curtis has done a great job,” Wilson says. “He has it dialed it right now. We could play today. My role is to share my experiences and offer thoughts. I am just another set of eyes. This week, the smallest of details are important.”
Wilson has made several trips to Medinah and is just one of several veteran turf professionals who are on hand this week to offer support, both morally and in terms of agronomics. Tyrrell said he certainly appreciates those who are on hand and sees them as a security blanket of sorts. He has 100 volunteers on site, many of whom are his former employers, co-workers, Penn State classmates, interns and even his father , Curtis, who is entering data in worker scheduling spreadsheets.
So does Wilson have any stories to share?
“Everything is pretty much in the book (Paul Azinger’s account of the 2008 Ryder Cup),” Wilson says. “But it is interesting how we (superintendents) are seen as having the secret weapon. Each morning I would get a list of things Paul thought we could do to help the team. I called it the Zinger list. We did our morning prep, and then made sure we looked at the list.”
— Jeff Bollig, GCSAA senior director of communications