Back in June, I was headed home from a trip to Minneapolis to visit my son, who had been interning at Toro. My route took me through Des Moines, Iowa, so I decided to visit Rick Tegtmeier. This was my first visit to Des Moines Golf & Country Club, and Rick was anxious to show me around. So, out we went for a tour of the golf course... all 36 holes of which had been completely renovated over the past four years under Rick's guidance.
Even though I was on a tight traveling schedule, I really didn't care how long it took -- this was one of those experiences that somehow you know not to rush. I think the tour gave Rick a little relief from everything else that was going on. When I finally got back in the car and on my way, I told my wife that I had a great feeling about the upcoming Solheim Cup in August.
I really didn't care how long it took -- this was one of those experiences that somehow you know not to rush.
Fast-forward to the recently completed event, and boy was I dead-on! The 2017 Solheim Cup is now among my greatest career experiences, ever. Since arriving back home, I have been asked about my favorite moments or takeaways from the tournament. Let's just say there are so many that it certainly was hard to select just a few to feature for this video. So, here are some of my best takeaways from the 2017 Solheim Cup. It really is just a sampling of great moments, just like I thought there would be when I got back in the car that day in June.
It was one great ride, and I want to thank everyone for coming along!
Family first. With the Solheim Cup and thousands of fans all around him on Saturday, Rick Tegtmeier shares a moment with his granddaughter while his wife Sherry looks on.
The 2017 Solheim Cup is in the books with a victory for the American ladies. It was also a big victory for the agronomy staff at Des Moines Golf and Country Club. Led by Rick Tegtmeier, Director of Grounds, and superintendents Nate Tegtmeier and Tim Sims, the course staff and volunteers all pulled together to make this tournament an unqualified success. The condition and playability of the golf course was spectacular, applauded by both US and European players.
What I will remember most about the tournament was the atmosphere of collegiality and cohesiveness among the agronomy team. It was fun to see the mix of management, full-time, seasonal and volunteer staff become such a cohesive working unit. The camaraderie level both at the maintenance facility and on the course during work shifts always seemed to be at level 10. It is always great to watch a team with one common goal working together each day and performing to the highest level. There is no better feeling!
It is always great to watch a team with one common goal working together each day and performing to the highest level...
Congratulations to Rick, his entire staff, and a fabulous group of volunteers for a job well done. I feel honored to have been a part of it.
Stay tuned, as my Takeaways from the Solheim Cup will be coming soon.
One evening, early in the week at the Solheim Cup, Rick Tegtmeier was making his rounds and stopped to chat with me. I was just shooting some b-roll video and was in no hurry, so I welcomed the chance to shoot the breeze. That's just what we did.
We didn't talk about Poa control or bunkers or fertilizer. We just generally talked about life and some special things he had in store for the tournament. I'll never forget that evening perfect weather, nobody around, just Rick and I catching up on things.
It was at that time that Rick told me about his plan for his bunker raking team for the competition. He said he wanted to give back something to family, friends, and industry folks - people who made a difference in his life and career. I noticed he got a little choked up as he mentioned many of those who would be part of Ricks Special Forces Elite Bunker Team. The Special Forces team members would follow each group around the course, inside the ropes, and rake bunkers after them as needed.
I'll admit to choking up a little myself as Rick shared his thoughts with me. It was a special time.
As he drove away that evening I was humbled by the amount of time we had together. I was also very impressed with his thought process in putting together his bunker team.
I'm pleased to say that I met up with two of his bunker team members, Tracey Maddison of BIGGA and Stephanie Schwenke of Syngenta. I was able to get their thoughts on being chosen, as well as their thoughts prior to tournament play, and when it was all over. We certainly had a lot of fun.
At most large golf events, theres usually something unique to contribute to that event's own flair, flavor and personality. LIke the $2.00 pimento cheese or egg salad sandwiches at The Masters, wrapped in green paper so if one gets away it can't be seen on TV as litter. Quintessential Masters, and only Masters. Or, the maintenance staff's toques (a Canadian/northern US term for a knitted winter hat with a beanie on top) at the Ryder Cup last year in MInnesota. Won't see them in Florida.
The Solheim Cup at Des Moines G&CC is the largest international sporting event in Iowa's history, with 120,000 tickets sold and over 2000 volunteers on hand. It's a big thing. To take advantage, the club has gone out of it's way to inject as much "Iowa" into this event as possible. Rick pointed out in the last video that, for his part, he wanted to make sure the volunteer staff showcased as many Iowa superintendents, assistants and equipment technicians as possible.
Sometimes it's the little things that make a big difference. I spotted two of them on the grounds this week. The fire hydrants and the concession stands are as unique (and uniquely Iowa) as it gets. In this video, Rick gives me the lowdown on both.
Now I need to visit one of those concession stands to get me a Maid Rite or some ham balls, maybe some Pella bologna or Puppy Chow (not what you think), a Twin Bing or a breakfast pizza. Those are Iowa things too.
My friend, Rick Tegtmeier, has a gleam in his eye. Why? It's there because he knows. He won't admit to you he knows, but he does.
He may have doubted it over the past four or five years, but he now knows all the hard work -- every little moment of stress -- was all worth it.
He also knows that people really love him. Everyone has shown it this week by traveling from near and far to do any and all that's needed to help him make this tournament a smashing success.
Rick remembers all those who have helped him and worked with him along the way. I have seen up-close the amazing camaraderie that is second to none among the volunteers. Its absolutely refreshing and fabulous! I have never felt more welcome anywhere.
Even though I have a few days left, I believe the camaraderie will be my #1 takeaway from this experience. In fact, I know I can bank on it!
One other thing I can bank on: Rick knows and Rick remembers.
It always amazes me how you can get a group of volunteers to perform like a symphony orchestra, virtually out of the gate. I have been on the fairway mowing team the entire time since I arrived at Des Moines Golf and Country Club. There are nine of us on the team. That is a lot of mowers.
Sure, we are all professionals and have been doing this sort of thing for many years, but that is not the point.
Most of us haven't mowed (many) fairways for a long time... 10, 15, even 20 years for some of us. Beyond that, most of us have never driven the John Deere fairway units that we (the team) are using.
Most of us haven't mowed (many) fairways for a long time... 10, 15, even 20 years for some of us.
You hear the same comments each time a newbie joins our team, "Wow, I don't remember the last time I mowed fairways"; "Is somebody going to show me how Rick wants us to mow?" and "Is somebody going to show me how to operate this thing?"
But all that really doesn't matter. Why? Primarily, because it's in our DNA.
When I hopped on my fairway unit for the first time on Sunday evening, I looked at my wingman, Steve Cook, (Oakland Hills) and asked him 'how this' and 'how that'. He said, "Don't worry, you'll get it." He was spot on!
Besides being in our DNA, we (all of us) have that 6th sense that allows us to know which way a guy is turning, what the fairway push line is, how many mowers need a second pass, among many other things.
It will always amaze me, no matter how many times I do it, how a group of strangers can work together, almost immediately... like a symphony orchestra.
A few years back, I can remember discussing the 2017 Solheim Cup with Rick Tegtmeier, director of grounds at Des Moines Golf & Country Club who would be hosting the event. We discussed the possibility of me coming to Iowa to volunteer and help out. Well, how time flies. Somehow the 2017 Solheim Cup is here and I find myself in the great state of Iowa, helping my good friend and fellow longtime TurfNet member.
With Rick working in Iowa and me in Colorado, chances are that he and I would never have met were it not for what I call the TurfNet Effect. Whats that, you may be asking yourself? That is where superintendents first meet online through the TurfNet Forum. Eventually you meet in person, usually at one of the TurfNet gatherings known as Beer and Pretzels or on the show floor at GIS. This happened with Rick and myself some 20 years ago and our friendship has become stronger every year. So I feel humbled and excited that Rick has asked me to come along for the ride.
...chances are that he and I would never have met were it not for what I call the
Along with helping on course, I will also be producing this video series to give you a firsthand look at Rick Tegtmeier and his staff, the Des Moines Golf and Country Club, and the 2017 Solheim Cup.
Come along for the ride this week as I help my good friend and have a bunch of fun along the way. Welcome!