The run-up to the 2013 U.S. Open should have been a fun ride for Matt Shaffer and his crew at Merion Golf Club. Indeed it was a ride, although whether it was fun is a matter of debate.
With several inches of rain falling at the course in Ardmore, Pa., in the week leading up to the event and the challenges it brought, Shaffer, his crew and his volunteer army of superintendents faced a stiff challenge to get Merion ready for the Open and keep it that way.
But succeed they did, and Shaffer has been widely credited for his ability to provide a course that not only was playable, but, despite its length of just less than 7,000 yards, left the world's best golfers battered and bruised, including one who said via social media that he could take no more.
For his ability to maintain his composure under pressure and present a U.S. Open that is talked about for all the right reasons, Shaffer is has been named as one of six finalists for the 2013 TurfNet Superintendent of the Year Award, presented by Syngenta.
Other finalists include Matt Gourlay, CGCS, of Colbert Hills in Manhattan, Kan.; Brad Jolliff of KickingBird Golf Club in Edmond, Okla.; Chad Mark of The Kirtland Country Club in Willoughby, Ohio; Josh Saunders of Longue Vue Club in Penn Hills, Pa.; and Curtis Nickerson of University Park Country Club in Sarasota, Fla. Click on the links to read more about each finalist. To read more about Shaffer's year at Merion, click here.
The finalists were selected by a panel of judges from a list of 96 nominees.
Criteria on which nominees are judged include labor-management skills, maximizing budget limitations, educating and advancing the careers of colleagues and assistants, negotiating with government agencies, preparing for tournaments under unusual circumstances, service to golf clientele, upgrading or renovating the course, dealing with extreme or emergency conditions.
Judges include Bob Goglia and Stephanie Schwenke of Syngenta; Peter McCormick, John Reitman and Jon Kiger of TurfNet; Chris Hartwiger of the USGA Green Section; Cal Roth of the PGA Tour; Tim Moraghan of Aspire Golf; Joel Jackson of Florida Green magazine; Larry Hirsh of Golf Property Analysts; Mike McCullough of the Monterey (Calif.) Regional Water Pollution Control Agency; Bradley Klein, Ph.D., of Golfweek; Dave Wilber of Sierra Pacific Turf; and current superintendent of the year Dan Meersman of The Philadelphia Cricket Club.
The winner will be announced Feb. 6 at the Syngenta booth during this year's Golf Industry Show in Orlando, Fla.
Previous winners include: Meersman (2012); Paul Carter, The Bear Trace at Harrison Bay, Harrison, Tenn. (2011); Thomas Bastis, The California Golf Club of San Francisco (2010); Anthony Williams, Stone Mountain (Ga.) Golf Club (2009); Sam MacKenzie, Olympia Fields (Ill.) Country Club (2008); John Zimmers, Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club (2007); Scott Ramsay, Golf Course at Yale University, New Haven, Conn. (2006); Mark Burchfield, Victoria Club, Riverside Calif. (2005); Stuart Leventhal, Interlachen Country Club, Winter Park, Fla. (2004); Paul Voykin, Briarwood Country Club, Deerfield, Ill. (2003); Jeff Burgess, Seven Lakes Golf Course, Windsor, Ontario (2002); Kip Tyler, Salem Country Club, Peabody, Mass. (2001); Kent McCutcheon, Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort (2000).