Storey Creek's Rob Watson shows why superintendents are often more important than celebrity golf architects
While colleagues like Tim McDonald continue to obsess over celebrity golf architects such as Arthur Hills (who happens to now be vastly overrated, all the more so after people started calling him underrated), I know that golf course superintendents usually have a much greater impact on regular golfers’ day-to-day enjoyment of a course. Survey after survey shows that good course conditions matter most to the folks who pay to play the game (as opposed to the golf writing freebie kings of the universe).
I was reminded of this when I visited Storey Creek Golf Club, the farthest out-there nature course on Vancouver Island’s excellent golf trail. Storey Creek’s been a beloved, unique course for years, the Vancouver Island course where you’re really swinging with the deer and kicking back in one of the most laid-back golf atmospheres on the planet. Only now Storey Creek’s course conditions are starting to live up to all its other quirky pluses.
That’s because Rob Watson has taken over as superintendent and pushed the standards to another level. Butch Kelly - Storey Creek’s longtime head pro, the character at the character course - cannot say enough about what Watson’s accomplished in the last year and a half. Kelly will tell you that Watson has made Storey Creek a much better play than its ever been.
Watson used to be the course superintendent at Vancouver’s vaunted Westwood Plateau - still one of my all-time favorite golf experiences. In fact, Watson was at Westwood when I played the course several years ago (and enjoyed its great conditions in some tricky nature spots). I didn’t remember this, but Watson did and he made a point to come into Storey Creek’s clubhouse and reintroduce himself.
To a golf writer he hadn’t seen in nearly three years, one who he might have exchanged a half dozen words with (tops) all those years ago. There are head pros I’ve interviewed for half and hour who wouldn’t immediately put the name with the person months later. Heck, there are probably head pros who I’ve played with who wouldn’t remember me years later (they tend to want to block out the horror of THE SWING).
That’s a golf course superintendent for you though. The best of these guys are on top of everything. They can tell who how high the grass was cut - and at what angle - three years ago to the day and who visited their course. Try that with a celebrity golf architect.
Heck, they sometimes need an assistant to remind them what the course’s name is. You know the one with their name on it.
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It also helps when the person making the pins for the day knows what he's doing, too.
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