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Breezy Point

Local Golf
August 17, 2017

Stable, Experienced Management And 36 Holes Makes Solheim Cup Preparation Easy For Des Moines Golf And Country Club
Jim Cutter talking at the Waukee Rotary about the updates coming to the Golf  Club and the Solheim Cup coming to the DMGCC.
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Jim Cutter talking at the Waukee Rotary about the updates coming to the Golf Club and the Solheim Cup coming to the DMGCC.
DMGCC group at the 2015 Solheim Cup in Germany.
+ click to enlarge
DMGCC group at the 2015 Solheim Cup in Germany.
By R.J. Smiley

Hazeltine membership made huge sacrifices for the 2016 Ryder Cup. Their golf course was closed for an entire season while the golf course was re-grassed. All the bunkers were rebuilt causing more interruptions in play. The month prior to the Ryder Cup members were required to play all shots from mats similar to driving range mats. In truth, the Hazeltine membership feels that the sacrifice was worth it. Their wonderful golf club now breathes the rarified air at the summit of golf.

With stable management and 36 holes of golf, Des Moines Golf and Country Club eases its way toward the Solheim Cup in August.

When DMGCC was awarded the 2017 Solheim Cup in 2013, all the planning had been done to totally refurbish both 18-hole golf courses, North and South. Pete Dye had made a couple of visits to the property along with his associate Tim Liddy. Together they developed a Master Plan for the golf course going forward. The Plan would insure these golf courses would reflect his design vision for the site. The goal of all concerned was to insure that the golf courses at DMGCC would remain true Dye design.

General Manager, Jim Cutter, Director of Golf, Scott Howe and Director of Grounds, Rick Tegtmeier have worked together for more than 10 years. Each week, these golf industry professionals, have a scheduled meeting on Thursday. Each is fully aware of what is happening in the others department. Working together, they developed a renovation action plan to work on nine holes each year for four years. "It was not necessarily a front nine - back nine situation, we did the work in nine hole groupings," said Tegtmeier. "If we had attempted to do the work in nine hole segments, front nine - back nine, the new main line irrigation would have been a problem for our players. We wanted to keep a continuity to our golf courses annually."

One of the issues that club management faces with the Solheim Cup is the smooth transition from regular member play to Solheim Cup week and back to regular member play. Chris Garrett, Tournament Director for the LPGA, has been on site for four years. During renovation, Chris, has been able to coordinate the future location of corporate hospitality tents, bleachers, food and beverage and restrooms with DMGCC senior management. "Very little site work will be necessary when the semis start arriving in early May. I wouldn't say that there will not be some problems, but with all the planning done for years, interruption of membership play during set-up for the Solheim Cup should be at a minimum. It will be interesting to watch time-lapse photography of the transition during set-up and teardown. Members who are regular players will be able to watch day to day in real time."

In a recent interview Scott Howe said, "With 36-holes, we have had three quarters of our golf courses open at all times. The renovation process is complete and we will have all 36-holes open in early May." I asked him what were his special and additional duties in preparation for the Solheim Cup Matches. His answer came as a surprise. "Not much," he said. "I have a golf course to run. I have had Solheim Cup logo merchandise in the shop for two years, but other than that, we just want to make our member experience is as good as possible every day." His staffing will actually go down during Solheim Cup week. "With no carts on the golf course we will need less outside people."

Jim Cutter, Club General Manager for the past sixteen years, remembers when the Club developed a plan to make a bid to host the Solheim Cup Matches. "We first sent letters to John Solheim, President of PING (the founder and sponsor of Solheim Cup) and the LPGA. We made it through the initial bid process and the LPGA sent a representative to take a first hand look. The person who came to inspect the property had attended the 1999 Senior Open, so he knew we could deliver. The contract was signed in 2013." In season, Cutter oversees 350 employees at DMGCC. "Our staff has worked through the renovation process and the Solheim Cup Matches represent the completion of work that was started years ago. Everyone is up for the big event. Our employees and our membership have all bought in. We are counting down the days."

When asked about his biggest fears, Cutter quickly replied, "Thunderstorms!" With thousands of fans on the golf courses and parking miles away, there is really no good way to get people off the course. Before being asked about security, Cutter mentioned that the Club had received the full cooperation of area law enforcement, city, county and state, as well as the FBI and Homeland Security. "We understand that in these times, safety of our members and fans is our ultimate goal."

Now that the four year long renovation is complete, Tegtmeier and his experienced staff of 48 grounds professionals can focus on creating pristine turf conditions for the Solheim Cup. Team members, Junior Solheim Cup players and the guests of sponsors who will participate in the pre-Solheim Cup exhibitions will be the first to see what four years of focused work can deliver.

The golf courses will not be closed prior to the Cup Matches. However, starting August 1st, golf carts will be restricted to cart paths only until the culmination of Solheim Cup week. "We have two big events scheduled prior to the Solheim Cup," Tegtmeier stated. On July 14 we have our Member/Member Tournament. The next day we will restrict play on the tees that will be used during the Solheim Cup. On August 12th we are having a double shotgun event. It will be a chance for the Club members to experience Solheim Cup conditions on a true Pete Dye golf course. On August 13th, the golfers who will represent Europe and USA in the Junior Solheim Cup Matches will start their practice rounds."

Tegtmeier explained that they have between 75 and 125 volunteers who will assist with golf course maintenance during the Solheim Cup. "These are Superintendents and Assistance Superintendents who want to experience Solheim Cup conditions. The turf professionals are volunteering their time for this wonderful event. Ninety percent of these volunteers are from the state of Iowa. They feel a sense of state pride. I am very proud that I have raised over $50,000 to pay for their for meals and housing during Solheim Cup week. It will give these people a chance to get first hand experience actually using various pieces of the latest turf equipment."

"There is still a lot of work to do before the matches began," said Chris Garrett. "We have to erect the merchandise tent, the media area and the event center where we will host the live country music concerts. But most of that construction will be away from the golf courses. Golf will go on as usual."

The countdown is on! Years of planning and preparation will be only memories when that first ball is struck in the 2017 edition of the Solheim Cup. With 36-holes of golf and experienced management, DMGCC has made the preparation for the Solheim Cup look easy.

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