For parts of four decades, Ralph Kepple has been the caretaker for the historic home course of the late Bobby Jones. A graduate of Ohio State, Kepple was named superintendent at East Lake Golf Club in 1992 and since 2018 has been the club’s director of agronomy. During that time, East Lake has been synonymous with the PGA Tour’s season-ending Tour Championship for 21 years.
In this episode of All Stars of Turf, Kepple talks about the keys to career longevity and some of the changes that have occurred at East Lake during its time as the the final stop on the Tour schedule. Chief among those changes have been a conversion from bentgrass putting surfaces to ultradwarf Bermudagrass following a brutally hot summer leading up to the 2007 tournament and the infamous reversing of the nines on the Donald Ross design in advance of the 2016 event, as well as an upcoming restoration project by architect Andrew Green.
Although East Lake occupies an important place in the game's history, it also plays an important role off the golf course through the work of the East Lake Foundation, the goal of which is to help revitalize one of Atlanta’s historic neighborhoods.