Omaha Country Club Ready for U.S. Senior Open
9 Jul, 2013
Don't let the perception of the Midwest as flat and open fool you, Omaha Country Club and its parkland setting will offer a stern test for the 2013 U.S. Senior Open, July 11-14, according to Eric McPherson, CGCS, the club's director of green and grounds.
"I think the thing that will amaze the golfers when they first step foot on the course, and likewise the viewers, will be how hilly the course is," says McPherson, who was named superintendent just over two years ago. "This is a total test of golf. We have strategically placed bunkers, there will be some opportunity for risk/reward off the tee, and of course, you have the Maxwell greens that can be a challenge."
Built in 1927 and designed by William Langford and Theodore Moreau, the course was redesigned by the revered Perry Maxwell in 1951. It would be one of Maxwell's last works before his passing the next year. In 2006, Keith Foster was brought in to update the course while maintaining the integrity of Maxwell's work. Like other Maxwell works, many of Omaha Country Club's teeing areas will entice players to cut off some corners to shorten holes, plus offer greens with segmented putting surfaces.
While McPherson expects fast and firm conditions to prevail by the start of the championship, he notes a wet winter and spring has him praying that Mother Nature will decide to turn off the water this week. His staff was shoveling snow off greens on May 2, and significant rain was a staple of the spring up until a week ago. He credits the work of a "great staff that got us where we are today."
We can control firmness, so we don't need any help in terms of rain," the 1995 Michigan State University graduate says. "The up and down terrain makes the course seem longer than it is. Rain will just add to that and reduce the amount of fairway roll."
The USGA has the par-71 course set up at 6,711 yards, with the 464-yard No. 10 playing to a 4, as opposed to a 5 for the member.
For McPherson, this is his first opportunity to host an event of this stature as the head superintendent. However, he did serve as a volunteer for the 2007 U.S. Open, 2006 U.S. Women's Open, the 1998 Ford Seniors and various tour events. He does admit calling the shots has been a dream for him.
"I think most superintendents want to be in this position," the 19-year GCSAA Class A member says. "I've always wanted to be involved in tournament golf and feel what it is like to condition a course for the best in the world. It can be nerve-wracking, but still, you want to be involved in something like that."
McPherson says maybe 10-15 players have been on grounds to play, with the feedback predominantly focusing on the deceptive length and tricky greens.
McPherson is also excited for the club and the city of Omaha to host the event. He notes the success of sports in the community (NCAA College World Series, Olympic Swimming trials, Creighton University basketball) and fully expects large crowds later this week.
About GCSAA: GCSAA is a leading golf organization and has as its focus golf course management. Since 1926, GCSAA has been the top professional association for the men and women who manage golf courses in the United States and worldwide. From its headquarters in Lawrence, Kan., the association provides education, information and representation to nearly 18,000 members in more than 72 countries. GCSAA's mission is to serve its members, advance their profession and enhance the enjoyment, growth and vitality of the game of golf. Find GCSAA on Facebook, follow GCSAA on Twitter, and visit GCSAA at www.gcsaa.org. The Environmental Institute for Golf is the philanthropic organization of the GCSAA, and has as its mission to foster sustainability through research, awareness, education, programs and scholarships for the benefit of golf course management professionals, golf facilities and the game. Visit www.eifg.org.