This year is turning into quite a reunion tour for Dick Bator.
Bator spent the past few days at Merion Golf Club for the U.S. Open. It's not like this was his first time; Bator was superintendent at Merion from 1989-92. Bator, though, isn't done yet this summer. In August, he will go to Oak Hill Country Club for the PGA Championship. Yes, Bator is very familiar with that piece of ground, too. He was superintendent there in 1980 when Oak Hill was host to a PGA Championship.
If that isn't impressive enough, Bator also served as superintendent at a place you probably have heard about. Bator was superintendent at Pine Valley Golf Club, a regular placeholder of the No. 1 rated golf courses in magazines that rate those type of things, including Golf Digest, which currently has Pine Valley atop its list.
"I've been fortunate. Blessed," Bator, 68, told GCM a few days ago at Merion, where he was holding court, and for good reason.
The guy knows his stuff.
Bator graduated in 1965 from UMass-Amherst. He knew at that point what he wanted in life.
"I wanted to host majors," he says. "I wanted the challenge. I like the electricity of something big. I'm high-charged, goal-oriented. I just wanted it."
When Bator first caught a glimpse of Pine Valley, when he was 19-years-old, he targeted it.
"I saw pictures of it and I said, 'That's mine.' I had it on the radar a long time ago," Bator says.
Today, Bator serves as a consultant, and he dabbles in design. Asked what he thinks has changed in the superintendent profession, Bator says, "Rules. Regulations. Paperwork."
What advice would he give superintendents now?
"Lead by example. I physically worked," Bator says.