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John Reitman

By John Reitman

Prepping for U.S. Senior Open provides Del Val students with valuable experience


Several Delaware Valley University students and alumni were on the volunteer crew at Saucon Valley for the U.S. Senior Open. Photo courtesy of Doug Linde

A group of Delaware Valley University students earned some serious on-the-job training last month when they worked the volunteer crew at the U.S. Senior Open.

The Del Val students and some alumni were part of the 80-person crew that helped director of grounds Jim Roney and his team prep Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania for the 42nd annual tournament.

"I feel very fortunate that DelVal is a part of a major golf tournament from the grounds perspective," said Doug Linde, turfgrass professor at Del Val. "It gives students a chance to experience what it takes to prepare for a professional tournament. I've been strongly encouraging students to be an intern or volunteer this summer. Jim Roney has been such a strong supporter of the DelVal turf program over the years, and I do my best to supply students and graduates for him."

The day began for staff and volunteers each day at 4:15 a.m. with a meeting where Roney, a Del Val alumnus, would assign jobs for the day. During the tournament, DelVal students and alumni did things such as fill divots, rake bunkers and fluff traffic-worn turf. The experience showed Del Val students the difference between everyday conditions and being tournament-ready.

The day began for staff and volunteers each day at 4:15 a.m. with a meeting where Roney, a Del Val alumnus, would assign jobs for the day...

"It was interesting to compare the course where I'm interning with how things are done at Saucon Valley," said Del Val student Nick Koch. "I am learning to hand water greens this summer and I was impressed with how careful and accurate the greens were watered for the tournament. The experience has made me take my job more seriously and want to make the best conditions possible for the golfers."

The tournament also gave students the chance to see how their work as well as the agronomic practices implemented by Roney and his team weeks in advance of the tournament directly influenced play by some of the game's best players, including winner Padraig Harrington.

"Highlights included: One, being able to see how difficult it was for the golfers to play the course," said Del Val student Dylan Agpar. "It made all the hard work and long hours we put in worth it. Two, being able to talk to the USGA agronomists and see what they are looking for in playability. Three, being able to be on the 18th green to see Harrington win and be part of the ceremony."

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