The 2007 U.S. Women's Open (June 28-July 1) will be old hat for Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) Certified Golf Course Superintendent David Fruchte (pronounced freck-tee).
In fact, it would not be a bad idea for a competitor to put him on the bag that week. Unfortunately, he'll be busy. Fruchte is in his 17th year as director of grounds and golf maintenance at both Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club and Mid Pines Inn and Golf Club in Southern Pines, N.C., which means he is overseeing his fifth USGA championship and third U.S. Women's Open in 11 years.
“Since 1991, when I found out we were going to host the first one ('96), we’ve had a U.S. Open in the back of our minds every day here,” Fruchte said.
Fruchte, a 23-year GCSAA member, teamed with golf course architect John Fought in 2004 to strip the 79-year-old Pine Needles layout and restore it to the original intent and purpose of legendary designer Donald Ross. The greens, bunkers and tees were all rebuilt, the fairways were re-grassed and trees were removed. An aerial photo of the course from 1939 was used as a guide for the project.
For more about the renovation, read the GCM story from its June issue.
As part of the renovation project, the greens were rebuilt to USGA specifications and were grassed with A-1 bentgrass. The fairways were stripped of six to seven inches of accumulated thatch and TifSport bermuda was grown in. The short and tight chipping areas around the greens have been expanded so that shots off line will travel further from the greens and present a more difficult chip shot. The fairway widths have been narrowed on average two yards per hole and 20 acres in play were returned to natural areas.
“Our biggest management change is that this Open will be played on bermudagrass,” Fruchte says.
This year’s event is not only a month later than the 2001 and 1996 U.S. Women's Opens conducted at Pine Needles, but also plays many yards longer and faster. Length was mainly added by moving tees farther back. The par-4 15th was stretched to its original par-5 length of 530 yards, resulting in a par 71 layout. The greens have more contours, more hole locations and will run faster.
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 more than 21,000 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. The association’s philanthropic organization, the Environmental Institute for Golf, works to strengthen the compatibility of golf with the natural environment through research grants, support for education programs and outreach efforts. Visit GCSAA at www.gcsaa.org.
For more information contact:
David Fruchte, CGCS, director of grounds and golf maintenance, Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (910) 693-7276
Bill Newton, GCSAA manager of media/public relations, at email@example.com or (800) 472-7878, ext. 3688