Masters of the Moss

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

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


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


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 an idea for

this course to become a championship 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 years?

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 - what side of the bed you get out of.

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 - who is part of the Nicklaus design team working on Trump's NYC links course)

regarding the Ferry Point project, can you expound on that?

Trump Golf Links Ferry Point

JN: It's been 10 years in the doing 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 Championshipevent. They could hold

a World 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 haven't?

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.


Thanks to Scott Tolley & Jack Nicklaus


Special thanks to Tom Sprouse and Jane Dally.











Ben Crenshaw Interview PDF Print E-mail
Written by BRUNO   


Two Time Masters Champion and Course Designer Ben Crenshaw



To the casual golf fan, Ben Crenshaw will always be known as the two time Masters winner

& the 1999 Ryder Cup Captain who led the amazing comeback at Brookline, but to golf design

aficionados, traveling golfers and industry experts, he will be known just as much for the great

design work he has done on landscapes around the globe with partner Bill Coore.



During the past two decades or so, Crenshaw-Coore have designed and constructed what

are considered to be some the best courses around the world. I have yet to experience Sand

Hills, which is their most celebrated design (located in Nebraska) and is on every raters Top

10 list. It has been my good fortune to experience half a dozen of their designs: Dormie Club

(N.C), Pinehurst No.2 - restoration (N.C), Sugarloaf Moutain (FL), Bandon Trails & Preserve

(South Coast of Oregon), and the new Streamsong Red (in Fort Meade, FL).


Crenshaw warms up to hit the ceremonial 1st tee shot at the Streamsong Grand Opening on Jan.26th




I had the pleasure of meeting Gentle Ben at the Streamsong Grand Opening a few weeks ago,

and spent sometime with him this week at The Allianz Championship in Boca Raton. We spoke

about Streamsong, Bandon, The Ryder Cup, and what's on the horizon for the rest of 2013:


LinksNation: How's your game? (Ben had just finished his 1st round - shooting 74)


Ben Crenshaw: I do the craziest things, I played o.k in spots today . . . but I just hit 3 or 4 of

the worst shots you ever saw, I hit a couple of wedges fat, stuff like that.


LN: Is the design work keeping you from practicing on your game the way you'd like?


BC: I wish I could blame it on that, but I've played enough golf over the years . . . yeah I do work

on architecture and think about it alot, but that's what I want to do . . . I'll do that the rest of my

life.The golf - I've been very fortunate in the game, but the last couple of years I seem to do some

strange stuff out on the course, but it's still fun.


LN: We stood on the 1st tee watching your partner Bill Coore, and Tom Doak hit their ceremonial

tee shots during the Grand Opening at Streamsong (on Jan.26), what were your impressions from

the day?


BC: The whole Golf community really came together well. Tom's enthusiasts from Renaissance

design . . . it's nice to see those people again. We had the best time, we'd work and then we had

this trailer where we'd have lunch and just throw these ideas around, it was fun.


LN: I had heard that during construction you were staying over in the small town of Mulberry?


BC: Yes we stayed at the Best Western out there. A few times I stayed in Tampa, but that's a



LN: When you first arrived and were shown the property at Streamsong, what was your first



BC: Bill (Coore) my partner went first, and he said "Ben this place is OUT here, but it looks very

interesting. Then I came down a couple of weeks later and I thought this could be something. It's

very unique and I can't say enough about Rich Mack's courage to convince their board . . . it's

obviously their property and have mined it forever. Rich is a big Golf enthusiast from Minnesota

. . . our hat's are off to him.

LN: I was at Streamsong last May for a site visit with Tom Sunnarborg, and when we stopped by

the tee on the Biarritz, my jaw dropped.


BC: Bill and I always liked that green site . . .  we thought, what are we gonna do here? I came

up with that idea and Bill said I really think we oughta do it. It seems to fit, certainly it's an

exciting hole and we hope that people have fun with it and I think it works there. There is no

question, we tried to climb into Seth Raynor's mind there, because it seemed like all across

the landscape - that all of his replica holes fit . . . so we thought what the heck, we're gonna

try it. It's an ode to him.


Streamsong Red "Biarritz" 16th hole



LN: I know you're a big fan of Raynor's work, there is an amazing "Biarritz" at Mountain Lake,

have you ever been there ?


BC: I HAVE NOT! Can you believe all of the times I've been to Central Florida, I haven't gotten

there! I have been invited there by a member. I believe Mike Keiser (owner of Bandon Dunes

and Cabot Links) just stayed there. All I've ever heard is, that you have to see it.


The par 3 fifth "Biarritz" at Mountain Lake in Lake Wales, Florida.



LN: Some of my favorite designs are the ones that get very little publicity, especially places like

Dormie Club and Bandon Trails, which I think is sooo underrated . . . your thoughts.


BC: Trails has a lot of different looks, the sand and vegetation are beautiful which were alot of fun

to work with. The different looks yielded some really good situations, it has a little different

atmosphere because it is a little more inland (than Pacific, Bandon and Old MacDonald) . . . it has

the feeling that it is sheltered a bit, which is ok .


3rd hole at Bandon trails



LN: Sugarloaf Mountain, another of your brilliant works, (has fallen on hard times and temporarily

has closed), is there a word on that situation ?


BC: A great piece of property, the last we heard was that they were a daily fee operation.I haven't

heard anything lately. What a great piece of property that is.


Short par 3 eleventh at Sugarloaf Mountain (now closed) - which boasts the highest elevation in Florida at 324 feet


LN: Switching gears, Ryder Cup. I know what was said publicly, but when you finally head back

to your room that Saturday night . . .  what was said between you and Julie (Ben's wife)?


BC: Julie is a competitor, all the wives are too. We came away frustrated that day, we saw alot

of good golf that day and alot of good putts that just missed by a whisker. I knew that they

were on edge to burst out if they got a run going. Obviously, the key was how we started on

Sunday, without that it wasn't going to happen. We got some momentum and isn't it ironic that

- that is what happened in Chicago. I wrote a letter to Jose Maria Olazabal and I was so happy for

him, he really inspired his team. It is extremely ironic since he was on the other side of Justin

Leonard's putt (in '99), he is such a wonderful guy.


LN: Can you reflect on Payne Stewart and what it meant for him to be on that team ?


BC: He was the spirit of that team, everybody knew his personality . . . he fit in like a mosaic with

the rest of the team. You had Tom Lehman who was solid, and Hal Sutton was playing the best golf

of his life.

Tiger, Phil, Mark O'meara and all of those

guys, but Payne really was the vocal spirit

. . . it meant so much to him to be on that


Obviously winning at Pinehurst gave him

plenty of points to get on that team. It was

tragic that we lost him just a month after

that great time that we had together. He

had one of the most beautiful swings you

ever saw, graceful, fundamentally proper

and his personality allowed him to wear

those clothes and he wore them very well.

That was him . . . we miss him dearly,

we really do.



LN: Tom Watson is getting another shot at

the Ryder Cup in 2014, any chance if asked

that you might be interested in giving it

another shot?


BC: The last one took years off of my

life! No, I probably wouldn't, I could

never have a better memory than in

Brookline . . . it can't get any better than that.


LN: 2013, How much are you going to play, what Design work is on the horizon?


BC: I may play a dozen tournaments, maybe. Design wise we have a couple of things to chase

after. There is a Dallas project, and we are doing a few things at Maidstone, some bunker work.

They have some gorgeous sandy ground and some outlines and pits that were there, so we

will be bringing them out. Also some things down the road at Shinnecock. It should be a fun year.






Ken Nice - Bandon Dunes Resort PDF Print E-mail



Ken Nice - Director of Agronomy at Bandon Dunes Resort



In the fourth edition of "Masters of the Moss", LinksNation traveled across the

country to experience Bandon Dunes Resort and it's 5 spectacular golf courses:

Bandon Dunes, Pacific Dunes, Bandon Trails, Old MacDonald and Bandon Preserve

(which opens today, May 1st).The Director of Agronomy at Bandon Resort is Ken

Nice, he's a native Oregonian and the man responsible for the care and well being of

the terrain that former USGA Executive Director David Fay called "the epicenter of

golf on planet earth".Since Bandon is now regarded as such by many knowledgeable

people in the industry, it goes without saying (but I'll say it here), Ken Nice is one of

the most important people in the world of golf today . . . he conducts himself with an

air of casualness and a quiet confidence that immediately command your interest and

respect.After our initial face to face meeting at Bandon Preserve was cut short by a

timely hail storm, Ken and I managed to finally have our Q&A just last week.



LinksNation: There is 85 holes of golf at Bandon, how big is the property at Bandon



Ken Nice: The entire resort property is 3300 acres.


LN: How large is the staff that you manage?


KN: We have roughly about 100 staffers in the agronomy department


LN: What are the biggest challenges for you with the golf courses on a daily basis?


KN: Probably one of the biggest challenges is how we deal with the wind, not only as

it relates to irrigation distribution, but also it can move an amazing amount of sand

overnight.Preparing bunkers day in and day out with the north wind howling, it's

such a harsh environment during the summer months.For us the wind is probably our

biggest challenge during the high season.


LN: The winds are more severe during the summer months?


KN: Yes, it's a constant 20-30 mph everyday, it starts in the morning . . .

sometimes it does die down at night but you cant always count on that.


LN: That must create an ever evolving set of golf courses.


KN: Yeah, in fact the bunkers at all of the golf courses do evolve over time, they

change . . . they are different than at the time of construction.Irrigation distribution

and also fertilizer applications become more of a challenge in terms of -When is your

window?When is it not?That's why I think it's easy for me to identify wind as our

greatest challenge, because it impacts so many of our functions.Every property has

it's challenges, it's always interesting talking to other Superintendents . . . like all

things, there is no one right way to do things, but at the same time there are

certainly fundamentals out there that all of the best guys don't stray very far away



LN: How many rounds are played at Bandon each year?


KN: Between 120-130 thousand rounds


LN: What's a typical day for the grounds staff ?


KN: 5am start, crew out the door by 5:30, basically here at Bandon we try to get

all of our mowing done ahead of the first group, so that our guests don't interact

with mowers.Then the crew takes lunch and reassembles afterwards to odd projects . . .

from there, if it's busy they might be working on divot repair, that's something we do



LN: How much different is maintaining these links courses as opposed to a typical

American layout?


KN: Certainly the mowing frequency is less, in fact everything is less . . . fertility,

irrigation, and mowing.The only thing that is equal to or even possibly more, is our

top dressing schedule.That's something that is a very necessary practice for us.The

thing with fine fescue that you find is, it's not so much what you do, it's what you

don't do.You have to observe a level of restraint.We rarely verti-cut, you minimize

service disturbance with fine fescue as opposed to other grass species.There is very

minimal grooming, no hollow core aerification, always small solid tines, we never pull a

plug (there have been no plugs ever pulled from the greens at any of the courses at

Bandon Dunes).So, basically a combination of low to moderate fertility, a consistent

top dressing program and some venting open for infiltration, I see no reason to pull a

core.Our goal is to build the profile up, accordingly if you have a perfect profile your

building up, why remove it.This helps keep our true firm surface, and also it

minimizes some competing grasses.Any annual Bluegrass that may try to move in,

has a tough time . . .  having no hollow cores open for that, helps our cause.


LN: One of the things I found while there, was how authentic all of the golf courses

actually played as links, to a lesser degree with Trails which obviously isn't on the

coast line.I've played and reviewed a few courses in the top 100 in America that are

links style, but DON'T play like links at all.


Par 3 - second at Bandon Trails




KN: Our thinking is Bandon Trails looks like a parkland course, but plays like a links course.


LN: When I was asked by friends and colleagues about the experience of playing the

courses at Bandon, other than the obvious things like weather, scenery and the dramatic

looks of the holes, I told them "I never hit a lob shot in the 5 rounds I played"! Everything

around the greens was along the ground.

Even after a torrential rain at Bandon Dunes early a.m that Tuesday (on 4/3), where

the greens were under water (and we walked off the course) . . . 4 hours later when

I returned to the 1st tee at 12:30 it played firm and fast.That was something I

didn't expect . . . as an American golfer that is something I'd never experienced.

KN: That is something that has been a pride for us, that the golf courses are

maintained that way, and that's the experience that people are going to get when

they're here, we really embrace that we get to maintain authentic links courses in

every sense of the word.We feel kind of a connection with all of the guys who are

in the U.K and Scotland and what they do, it's the right property, the right climate

the right soils but then most importantly above all is an owner (Mike Keiser) who has a

vision and it filtrates down to everybody.

LN: Where did you go to school?

KN: I went to two schools, first went to a school called Willamette in Salem, Oregon

and actually graduated from there with a minor in Econ and a major in Psychology.

Then I spent about 6 or 7 years as a self employed landscaper.I started to get interested

in golf, and thought this is kind of a good combination.My father who was a retired professor

at Oregon State at the time, told me about Tom Cook's Turfgrass program at the University.

He's been the professor to many Superintendents in the Northwest, so at that point I decided

it would be a good idea to formalize my education in Landscape & Turf, so I went back to school

for another two years and earned my degree in Horticulture and Turfgrass science.

LN: Did being a local and growing up in Oregon help somewhat with knowing the conditions?

KN: I wasn't too far away from Bandon Resort, maybe a 3 hour drive.It's kind of

different, even though Bandon and Corvallis are only 3 hours apart, it might as well

be a 12 hour flight to Scotland . . . you go from the valley and the heavy clay/loam

soils to sand and coastal climate, it's really quite a contrast.It's nice as an Oregonian,

obviously I have alot of pride in Bandon Dunes and to have the opportunity to work

on the property, but also as an Oregonian to have Bandon Dunes here in the state,

it's a double pride thing for me.

LN: What did you learn from having the USGA Pub Links in 2011?

KN: It was actually our 3rd USGA event hosted, we had the '07 Mid Am and the '06

Curtis Cup here as well.It always amazes me by just how good these top amateurs

are.Their level of skill is always impressive to me, at the same time it's fun to put on

those championships with the USGA and see what tweaks we have to make.There

are some logistical things that we learned, but more than anything really is the

team effort it takes to put on a USGA event . . . luckily everybody here embraces

the Team aspect and everybody jumps in and does their part, no matter what it is.

LN: How involved was the USGA with you in the set up of the courses?

KN: They are very involved, from green speed measurements, to watering. You don't

want to lose control of the golf courses, but at the same time you want it to play

firm and fast.We more or less put the cups where they tell us to put it, they are

involved in every aspect of the golf course.


14th at Old Mac




LN: Bandon Trails and Old Mac were the courses used for the Pub Links right? Why

those two and not the two coastal layouts?

KN: They wanted two contrasting courses, and that was probably about as far apart

as you could get, atleast in terms of our property.Plus Old Mac hadn't been part of a

championship, Pacific has had the Curtis Cup, Bandon was part of the Mid Am, so it

was good opportunity to use Trails and Old Mac.

LN: Is there any of the five courses that pose a different or tougher challenge than

the others?

KN: Pacific Dunes has the biggest challenges when it comes to wind, bunker

maintenance, water and so forth.Bandon Trails has tree issues to deal with that

obviously the other courses don't.

LN: Bandon Preserve opens May 1st, were you involved in any of the actual

construction process with Coore/Crenshaw?

KN: Yeah I was involved in the planning management aspect of it, getting the

irrigation contractors and making sure we had the drainage plan.More than anything,

just making sure that they have everything they need to do their job, and then

obviously from the agronomy side of things, I had alot to do with the grassing and

how we were going to go about it.Feed rates and growing protocols that kind of

stuff.I was probably less involved in BP than I was in Old Mac, Pacific, or Trails from

a hands on stand point.


It hailed just after meeting Ken at BP, just one of the elements in play on the south coast of Oregon.





LN: I've heard Superintendents, including someone I respect a great deal, my friend

Matt Shaffer at Merion have told me that the newer style golf shoes with their multi

pronged sharp plastic cleats have been more harmful to their courses greens and

tees than the old metal spikes.Do you have an opinion on this?

KN: When things start to slow down here in the early fall with our fine fescue we are

susceptible to scaring and abrasion, what we call the "fall scuffys" here.Every foot

dragger leaves a scar and a scuff, I would think that the modern golf shoe does not

help our cause . . . but it's not a major issue for us, our greens don't tend to

footprint up as the day goes on.They stay pretty true throughout the day, it isn't

really anything that we're worried about or talk much about during the day.

LN: Last question Ken, but it's not golf related.I wanted to ask you about your dog

Mia . . . I remember when we met, seeing her following you around and you telling

me how she was basically abandoned by someone and was living out there in the

wild at Bandon Trails (Mia is a black/brown Papillion).

The lovely Mia


KN: She was out there atleast a month that we know of, she is a pretty alert little

thing and she must of had a pretty good hiding place there, she had her den

somewhere.She was pretty astute at hiding in that den, then from a food standpoint

she had been seen by enough people trying to catch her, I know I'd ride by and

place a couple biscuits close to where she was hangin out and then I'd come back

from the store and I'd see that the biscuits were gone.When they tried to live trap

her it took awhile because she wouldn't go in the cage initially, and so they would

set out food and they had to move it incrementally closer everyday.

When they finally caught her, I was away on vacation with my wife, we had just

arrived in Hawaii and were at baggage claim when the animal control and shelter

people from Coos County called me and told me "hey we caught that little black dog,

it's a Papillon" I had promised them if they caught her I would adopt her.I did some

research on Papillons and she really fits the description to a T.She's really a bright

little dog, they are the #1 small dog during the agility trials.She is great, she is so

easy to have out on the golf course, she doesn't get in anybody's way.She is definitely

a bright spot for me.

LN :I think if Mia could speak she'd say "ditto".


Thanks again to B.R Koehnemann and Ken Nice.