Masters of the Moss

An ode to those who tend to Golf's most unique and challenging landscapes

PGA Golf Club's Gray Named '16 TurfNet 'Super Of The Year' PDF Print E-mail



(PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.) - PGA Golf Club's Director of Agronomy, Dick Gray,

was named the 2016 TurfNet "Superintendent of the Year" at the Golf

Industry Show earlier this month in Orlando.

Widely regarded as one of the most inspirational turf grass experts in the

industry, Gray topped a list of 228 nominees from across the country.

Entrants were judged on their ability to excel in labor management, maximize

budget limitations, educate and advance the careers of colleagues and assistants,

prepare for tournaments under unusual circumstances, service to golf clientele,

upgrade or renovate courses, and deal with extreme or emergency conditions.

Since joining PGA Golf Club in 2013, Gray has been instrumental in its growth

and success. Charged with elevating the flagship facility of the PGA of America,

Gray led a team to renovate and re-grass the Wanamaker and Dye courses.

Now PGA Golf Club is one of only a few resorts in America with two of its

courses ranked among the best in state by Golf Digest and Golfweek.

"Dick Gray and his team are leading an impressive transformation that has

cemented PGA Golf Club among the elite golf destinations in Florida," says

Jimmy Terry, PGA Senior General Manager. "The stunning renovations are

shining examples of his dedication to providing great course conditions day in,

day out to our club and PGA members, and guests."

Gray's career started in the 1960s where he worked under the guidance of his

mentor, friend and legendary course architect, Pete Dye, at Crooked Stick Golf

Club in Carmel, IN, host of the 1991 PGA Championship. More than 50 years later,

Gray and Dye collaborated to renovate the Dye Course which has received rave

reviews. Gray's imprint can been seen throughout south Florida: he helped design

& build The Florida Club in Stuart, worked with Dye & P.B. Dye on the construction

of Loblolly Golf Club in Hobe Sound, and oversaw a re-grassing project at Jupiter

Hills Club (ranked among "America's 100 Greatest Courses in the United States")

in Tequesta.

"I'm humbled to receive this honor," says Gray. "This award is tribute to the real

magicians at PGA Golf Club, my team, who push themselves every day to deliver

the best possible conditions on our golf courses."

With the honor, Gray earned a trip for two to Scotland in October for the TurfNet

Members golf trip, courtesy of award sponsor Syngenta.

To learn more about PGA Golf Club:, 772.467.1300.


BOCA RATON, Fla. (Jan. 3, 2017) -- Broken Sound Club (BSC) in Boca

Raton, Fla., a 5-Star Platinum Club of America, has been chosen as

the Overall and National Private recipient of the 2017 Environmental

Leaders in Golf Awards (ELGA), which are presented annually by the

Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) and

Golf Digest in partnership with Syngenta and Rain Bird's Golf Division.

The private, gated golf and country club community that is home to

the PGA Champions Tour's season opener - the Allianz Championship

for 10 consecutive years - ranks as the only Florida or Southeastern

U.S.-based ELGA winner at the national or international leader level.  

The Club, its two Audubon Sanctuary and GEO Certified golf courses

and Golf Course Maintenance Director and Environmental Consultant

Shannon Easter will be recognized Feb. 7 during the Opening Session

at the 2017 Golf Industry Show and featured in upcoming issues of Golf

Digest and GCSAA's magazine Golf Course Management.


The Broken Sound Club's Club and Community a Sustainability Story

BSC began its sustainability efforts on the greens with reclaiming water

and adding birdhouses, a butterfly garden and true native areas. Looking

internally at club operations, BSC moved to paperless accounting,

cardboard and paper recycling and installing of water reduction toilets,

shower heads, motion sensor lighting systems with LED fixtures and bulbs

and replacing Styrofoam cups with biodegradable products made of corn

starch before its large investment in on-site composting.

According to GCSAA, BSC's sustainability mission and efforts through the

on-course stewardship of its Maintenance Director and Environmental

Consultant Shannon Easter, the Club's 115-acre, 36-hole facilities - BSC's

Club Course and The Old Course -demonstrate that golf courses can be a

welcome habitat for native wildlife, including some endangered species.

"This great honor recognizes the high standard our board leadership,

membership and golf course maintenance team set for ourselves every

single day 'on and off' our golf courses," notes BSC GM and COO John

Crean, CCE. "Our sustainability mandate combined with hospitality is the

Club DNA that drives us, encouraging other communities, clubs and courses

to follow suit."


Awardees are selected by an independent panel of judges representing

national environmental groups, turfgrass experts, university researchers and

valued members of the golf industry to recognize golf course superintendents

and their courses for overall course management excellence and best

management practices.  Such practices include areas of water conservation,

water quality management, energy conservation, pollution prevention, waste

management, wildlife and habitat conservation, communication and outreach

and leadership. In addition to the national winners, 19 chapter and nine merit

winners were chosen from GCSAA's 98 affiliated chapters.

"The ELGA winners are not only stewards for the environment, but

excellent examples of the focus our industry keeps on sustainable

efforts," said Rhett Evans, GCSAA CEO. "They are on the frontline of how

superintendents are making great playing conditions and environmental

management practices work in tandem."




Most recently, BSC became the first club community to install a Tesla

charging station and employ a beekeeper to install/maintain 22 beehives

on its golf courses where one million bees produce 1,000 lbs. of pure,

natural honey per year for members. The Club's 2013 transformational

design and build of its Moonstone Spa and Fitness Center earned Leadership

in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification from the U.S.

Green Building Council (USGBC).


BSC has received honors from the Florida Department of Environmental

Protection for its impressive 95% recycling rate that is consistently three

times the statewide recycling rate for the commercial sector and was a

Green Corporate Citizen award finalist at the department's '12 Corporate

Recycling and Waste Conference. The Club was the second golf facility in

the U.S. and 14th in the world to be GEO Certified, the sustainability

assurance of the Golf Environment Organization, an international non-

profit dedicated to supporting sustainability in the sport of golf.

"Having created the first industrial composting project in Florida, BSC

continues to 'naturally' save lives and dollars while improving the quality

of life and healthfulness of those who live, work and play within its

community," noted Shannon Easter about BSC that holds a "Healthiest

Club Designation' from Prevo Health Solutions. "We save countless birds

and other wildlife on our golf courses, while responsibly reducing landfill

disposal and minimizing the adverse effects fertilizer and other chemicals

have on golfers and residents."

Broken Sound Club is located at 2401 Willow Springs Drive, Boca Raton,

FL. For Club membership, contact Membership Director Maureen Schreiber

at (561) 241-6800 or visit


About Broken Sound Club:
Whatever one's passion or interest...their active enviable home life,

business life, sporting life, and social life complement each other perfectly

at BSC. Known as the "friendly" club for its signature blend of warmth,

elegance and genuine hospitality, this award-winning private gated golf

and country club community offers a choice of 27 lushly landscaped intimate

residential villages, each with its own character. All are just minutes away

from its main clubhouse with indoor/outdoor dining, two signature Audubon

Sanctuary and GEO Certified golf courses, a two-acre $6 million poolscape

with bistro, a $7 million 35,000-square-foot spa and fitness center and 23

tennis courts. Close to two international airports and private Boca Raton

Executive Airport, BSC is a few miles from pristine beachesBoca's burgeoning

Class A office parks, a vibrant Downtown, A-rated public and award-winning

private schools, two universities, FAU Stadium, world-class shopping, dining,

culture, sports, recreation and nightlife.


Visit BSC at or find us on FacebookTwitter

and YouTube.








Jay Blasi - Project Architect Chambers Bay PDF Print E-mail


By Jason Bruno

Jay Blasi

As a former Project Architect for Robert Trent Jones II design, Jay

Blasi was able to bring his own design talents and philosophies to

the links project that became known as Chambers Bay. This June

Chambers Bay hosts the U.S Open. In our recent Q&A, Blasi talks

about what it has been like to be part of the team that will make

history - (bringing the first Fescue turf Links setup to an American

National Championship).

LinksNation: You grew up in Madison, Wisconsin - How did you get

started in golf?

Blasi: My father was a caddie, and he grew up on the south side of

Chicago. When he bought his first house after getting married, the

first thing he did was he built a putting green in the backyard. So

for me I was real lucky, I got to grow up with a putting green in

the backyard and was playing on that as a two year old and golf

has been part of my life ever since and Madison was big part of


LinksNation: You attended the University of Wisconsin and became

a landscape architect, afterward you joined RTJ II's staff, what was

that like?

Blasi: It was great, as a kid I knew golf . . . but I had no clue about

anything else. I didn't know the difference between an Oak Tree and

a Maple Tree. When I found out that most people who were golf

architects had a degree in Landscape architectre that's what I did.

It was a wonderful opportunity at UW because the Landscape

Architecture program was very small - there was probably 20 kids

in our class and you got to know your professors on a one to one

basis, the class itself was always working on projects, so we were

always working as teams. I felt very fortunate to have gotten a

small school experience in the setting of a major university. All

of the culture and resources of a major institution in what felt

like a small school hands on experience.

LinksNation: Were you the only student in the class who wanted

to pursue golf course design as a career?

Blasi: Yes, and I was fortunate that they allowed me to tailor

my curriculum a little bit, so when we were doing a class on a

planting design, they would let me do it as a golf hole with

landscaping around it. I did a year long independent study

project where I designed a second course for the university.

My senior thesis was another golf project, so I was the one

who did golf that year, but there were others in years prior

and years since - usually one student per class.

LinksNation: When you came out did you immediately get

hired by Robert Trent Jones jr, how did that work out?

Blasi: I had reached out to almost everybody, and there

wasn't a single job available, so that was a little scary at

that point. I had a buddy in my class who graduated a

semester before I did, and he went and was working in a

landscape architecture firm, and he said I know you want

to work in the golf field, but why don't you come work for

our firm until you can get into golf. About two weeks after

I started working with him, I got the call from Jones -

saying they were going to hire someone for the first time

in however many years, and I was one of three people

they wanted to interview. I had to go to my boss of two

weeks and ask him for time off to go interview for another

job. He couldn't have been any nicer about it.

LinksNation: (Having been in the field myself for 28 years)

I have found that people that are involved in growing,

shaping and maintaining landscapes to be among the most

interesting and down earth people to talk to. Has this been

the case in your experience?

Blasi: Absolutely, particularly the people on the course

construction teams . . . but the true heroes are the

superintendents and people who work on the turf care

side. They get none of the glory and all of the pain, just

great people and fun to be around.

LinksNation: Bravo to that, no better people to talk to

than superintendents. I've been fortunate to sit down

with some of the best in the industry - Matt Shaffer at

Merion, Ken Nice at Bandon, Lukus Harvey at PGA Nat'l,

and Brad Boyd down at Dorado Beach.

Blasi: Yes, You bring up some great guys, I've had a

chance to meet Matt and I've been around Ken many

times now. I love the fact that it is one big community

of people who help each other out. For example, when

we were working on Chambers Bay, we were researching

fescue so we went down and spent time at Bandon Dunes.

Their whole team was happy to help and if we ever had

an issue we can call them. Superintendents everywhere

are one big community that helps each other and that's

pretty refreshing in this day and age.

LinksNation: To take that a step further, during my interview

with Matt Shaffer at Merion in 2011, he realized by some of

the questions I was asking that I had some kind of background

in Agronomy, so in the middle of the Q& A, he turns the tables

and starts asking me questions. After our interview he takes

me for a tour of the entire property describing each and every

modification that will be done to each hole on Merion's East

course. As we finish, he turns to me and says, "How would

you like to work with my staff and be a volunteer for us at the

2013 U.S Open?" I was speechless and incredibly appreciative

that this man at the top of his profession had the thought and

generosity to offer me such an opportunity. It was a great

experience being part of that crew, more satisfying than

anything I've ever done media wise. Who takes their moment,

and then turns it around and gives you one of your own? That

was an A-ha moment for me. I realized being able to grow turf

and manage people is his job, but relationship building takes a

special person - Shaffer inspired me that day . . . (but I digress).

Lets talk Chambers, a few years back I was at the course opening

of Dorado Beach East in Puerto Rico and had dinner with Bruce

Charlton (RTJ II lead designer), and he was just raving about

Chambers, and impressed to me that I had to get out there and

see the place. When I finally did in April 2012, I was really excited

to see what you guys had created . Tell me about the what makes

Chambers Bay so unique.

Blasi: There are a couple of things, the thing that really jumps off

the page for everybody is the scale of the property. Particularly if

you start your journey from the clubhouse and look out over the

entire course and the Puget Sound. When you actually get down

there, you realize that those things you see as specks down there

are concrete walls that are 40 feet tall, and those mounds you see

lining the fairways are actually dunes that are 55 ft tall. In terms

of great golf, the most common dominator in all great courses

around the world is sandy soil. The fact that the site was a former

sand and gravel mine, when we had the opportunity to work the

site there were these huge stack piles of sand that looked somewhat

like dunes, but basically the fact that there was sand in the pit that

alone was the key. For any golf architect, that's like striking oil or

finding gold. Couple that with the fact that it's in the Pacific North-

west, and has a climate that would be conducive to Fescue, and

being adjacent to water it just became the perfect confluence to

try to create a links experience.

The view from outside the clubhouse

LinksNation: We all know it played a little too baked out for the Am

in 2010, has the USGA tipped their hand as to how it will be set up

for the U.S Open?

Blasi: That U.S Amateur was definitely a trial run, and if you ask

Mike Davis, I think he will admit that they probably crossed the

limit on one of the days during the stroke play (portion of the

championship), but that's what they had to do to in order to

learn. Also, the Amateur was played in August, which gave

them all summer long to bake it out. The site isn't that windy

in general, it's usually no more than a one or two club wind,

but there was a day during the Amateur when it was blowing

like 20-25 mph . . . with the fairways like concrete, that was

really hard. Mike has shared some thoughts about what they

learned from the Amateur and how they'll put that into play.

From a firmness standpoint, the golf course is plenty firm, it

will only get more firm as we get closer to the championship.

It just comes down to working with Josh Lewis (Super at

Chambers) and Eric Johnson (Director of Agronomy) on what

Mike is looking for.

LinksNation: The biggest challenge for the Agronomy Team

at Merion in '13 was rain, but Shaffer's little gem held it's

own in the end (with Justin Rose winning at 1 over par).

What do you expect to be the biggest challenges for Josh

Lewis and the Agronomy Team at Chambers the week of

the Open?

Blasi: Great question, one that has not been asked of me

till now. As you know, they have been preparing for this

week for 7 years! Every week you get closer it only gets

heightened, I do think it will probably be different from

Merion in that it's a sandy base and rain wouldn't really

be an issue - the golf course is firm and fast rain or shine.

I would think two issues: they have been growing rough

for the event (in the beginning there was no rough at

Chambers, just super wide fairways), and they're still

trying to figure out the specifics on that. The other is the

firmness, perhaps more than any other golf course, that

has hosted a major championship - the contours in and

around the greens, the kicker slopes and side boards, and

the rolls and hollows . . . when it's playing really firm and

fast a ball can land on a spot and end up 70 yards from

that spot. Just getting the right firmness and speed is

something they'll continue to work at and dial in to get

the magic formula there, because there really is a fine

line between making it the ultimate test in golf and letting

it get away from you. In order to offer up the greatest test,

you really have to push the limits . . . but you really don't

want to go over the edge.

Tee shot on the 14th

LinksNation: As one of the principal people involved in the actual

design of the course, tell me which one or two specific holes at

Chambers Bay is your favorite and why?

Blasi: I'm sure you've heard this before, but it's kind of like

picking your favorite kid - you like them for different reasons.

Some of them you like because they were a challenge to build,

others because they're beautiful, some because of strategic

reasons . . . but I will say that my favorite tee shot is on the

14th. If you haven't seen a photo of that hole before it was built,

that is one of things that makes me real proud, not many would

have a sense of what was there before - it's a pretty dramatic

transformation. It's just the ultimate test of hitting a good drive,

if you hit a good drive you're in the fairway in a great spot,

if you don't you're screwed. A great test.


The second shot into the sixth is one that I love as well, and

that was probably the biggest change during design. We were

very fortunate, Pierce County allowed us a full year to work on

the design prior to construction. There were 80 acres of vegetation

before we started, so as we drew out the preliminary routing the

sixth was going to be a par 3 - we had everything set up and staked.

The green was going to be where the fairway landing area is, and

after we got some of the clearing done, all of a sudden that little

slot in the dunes where six green is presented itself. It was the

way the sand mine was left, it was probably the best looking dune

on the whole site . . . so we roped it off and kept it as is. We moved

1.4 cubic yards of sand to make the golf course, but there were

specific parts where we didn't really touch anything and the sixth

green complex is one where we shaped in the green and added

the bunker on the left. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention 15 as one

of my favorites because I love the tree and ended up getting

married on that hole.

15th at Chambers bay

LinksNation: I'm so glad the tree was able to saved (after a vandal

tried to hack it down with an axe), it is an iconic symbol of the place.

Blasi: Another example of Karma - The vandal came along and tried

to knock it down, and ultimately the vandal was the best thing that

ever happened to the tree. Every Arborist in the state volunteered

their services to come out and help us out, and they said what the

vandal did was not a big deal - we can patch that up, but just so you

know, this tree is not going to make it as it is because there are some

issues in the sub-surface and root structure. They gave us a game

plan and mapped out four things we had to do to brighten the outlook

for the tree long term. Ultimately, the tree is far better off for having

that vandal come along.

LinksNation: What's next for you and your new company (Blasi Design)?

Blasi: It's been a fun ride, I started the company in 2012. In 2013 we

did a major renovation at Century World in Wisconsin. It was a course

that RTJ jr had originally designed in the 80's and we executed the

renovation of all tees, greens, bunkers, irrigation system and rerouted

five holes. I'm currently working on Santa Ana Country Club in Orange

County, California. We're in the design phase now and will be in

construction next year. We're going to do a complete "Golden Age"

style deisgn, what is there now is an outdated 80's style design. Very

excited about that one. Coming down the road is Sharpe Park in San

Francisco, we plan on restoring the Mackenzie back to it.

Special Thanks to Jay Blasi and Jane Dally

For more info on Jay Blasi Design:

Interview: Jack Nicklaus PDF Print E-mail


By Jason Bruno


Jack Nicklaus is the greatest Champion our game has ever seen,

he knew how to take a tough loss with grace and he knew how

to console and respect his challengers after they were defeated

by him. When he walks into a room you feel it, it's a strong

presence. Much like Arnie, Jack William Nicklaus is the sports hero

to so many . . . and he carries it well. He knows how important he

is to those and doesn't shun that responsibility.

Nicklaus was on hand as the honorary Captain of the American

Team of Mid & Senior Amateurs at the opening ceremonies for

1st Annual Concession Cup on Tuesday, April 29th 2014. It was

an honor to sit down with the Golden Bear for a brief Q&A about

the Concession Cup, Amateur Golf, Course design, and the Ryder

Cup at his course in Scotland, at Gleneagles.

LinksNation: It's been 45 years since the actual Concession putt was

given to Tony Jacklin at Royal Birkdale in the 1969 Ryder Cup, can

you look back to it's origins and today . . .

Jack Nicklaus: I didn't think it was a big deal, it was just a short putt.

Tony (Jacklin) thought it was a big deal, and the golf world did too I

guess - to me it was just the right thing to do at the time, now they

have a golf course here called the Concession named after that event.

Tony's done a great job here with the theme and Ryder Cup memorabilia,

now to have an amateur event with Tony and I as honorary captains is

very special. Hopefully it will be a great event and the players will enjoy

the golf course.

LN: These are some of the best Mid Ams and Senior Amateurs in the

world, there should be some high quality golf, your thoughts . . .

JN: You'll see some good golf, no question about it. People will enjoy

seeing them play.

photo by Scott Baker

Vinny Giles, Jack, Tony Jacklin & Garth McGimpsey Tuesday at the

Concession Cup press conference

LN: This is quite the stage for many of these players, as you stated

in the press conference - Amateur golf is where it all began for you.

JN: Some of these players are former Walker Cup players and some

have not played in an international competition before, those players

will see it as a new experience and I think will enjoy it. The ones who

have, will enjoy a renewing of that experience, two years from now it

will be played in Great Britain and back over here in another two years,

being played on a bi- annual basis. It's kinda neat much like the Walker

Cup - that's the thing that launched my career, because of the Walker

Cup, I played in the Masters, I got into the British Amateur, the U.S

Open that year. I got into all kinds of things because of the Walker Cup.

photo by Jason Bruno

The gorgeous par-5 seventh at Jack Nicklaus' Concession Club

LN: When Tony (Jacklin) pitched you the plan and concept to build

this course, was there a plan for this course to become a champion-

ship type venue for an event such as this?

JN: Yes. He wanted to have a championship course, that's what

Kevin Davis (The original owner) wanted when we first started.

He wanted to have a strong golf course if we were going to have

an international competition, with the golf course being suitable

to handle that. I think the golf course might be a little too difficult

for its membership at times, it will certainly test the best players

in the world.

LN: How has your design philosophy changed or evolved over the


JN: It changes everyday, it depends on what I'm doing. To tell you

what my design philosophy is anymore, I'm never sure. It all depends,

alot of people say it depends what side of the bed I get out of in the


LN: I've noticed in recent years, the green complexes you've designed

have become much more challenging, your thoughts . . .

JN: Now I've gone the other way, I've gone from flat greens, to smaller

greens, to larger greens, to rolling greens to difficult greens to mild

greens - I'm in a mild green state right now. That's the side of the bed

I got up on this morning.

LN: Has that been influenced by developers or members ?

JN: Depends on what you're trying to accomplish, depends on who

you're designing the golf course for and what they're trying to

accomplish, what they really want and what the property is - that

determines what you have to do.

LN: I've talked some with John Sanford (A mutual friend of Nicklaus

and I & an accomplished course designer himself working with the

Nicklaus design team on Trump's new course in NYC) regarding the

Ferry Point project, can you expound on that?

Trump Golf Links Ferry Point

JN: It's been 10 years in the making or 12 years I suppose, certainly

hope that we got it pretty close to right . . . since it's taken a while

doing it. It's for the city of New York, it's right at the Whitestone

Bridge in the Bronx, you're looking at the New York/Manhattan skyline.

Since Donald Trump took it over, he's actually got the thing to the

finish line, he's done a very good job of doing that. The golf course is

strong. I think the city of New York has 17 public golf courses, (the

process has been going on) thru the last term of Guiliani and the last

3 of Mayor Bloomberg. They said they had enough courses that the

average person can play, they wanted a golf course where they could

host a World Championship event. They could hold a Championship

event on this golf course . . . they could hold a U.S Open, or PGA

Championship or anything else they want to hold there. It's an old

dump site that we covered with sand. There aren't any trees on the

interior part of the golf course, there's alot on the outside of the golf

course, but the interior is basically sand. We moved the sand around

and created a links style course which seems to fit there very well, it's

on the water . . . the wind will be a great factor there.

Jack congratulates Tom Watson at Pebble Beach in 1982

LN: I know you're close friends with Tom Watson, what will he bring

to the Ryder Cup team this year that maybe the past few captains


JN: I don't really know from a tangible standpoint, but from an

intangible standpoint - Tom is a great winner, Tom's won 5 British

Opens, Tom is loved in Scotland . . . the players will all look up to

him, and respect him. So there are many intangibles there, tangibly

you're still going to have to play golf. The players that will play golf

well will win, it's on my golf course at Gleneagles - the golf course is

a strong course. If the weather is good, they'll shoot some good

scores on it, if the weather is bad they'll struggle on the golf course

- like they would on many Scottish courses in the weather. It will be

a great event and I think Tom will do a great job as captain.


Special thanks to Tom Sprouse and Jane Dally.