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John Reitman

By John Reitman

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Support system

A dedicated staff and understanding family make Jeff Corcoran's life easier at Oak Hill Country Club. Photo by Mary Corcoran.Oak Hill Country Club has a long history of playing host to the world's best players. 

 

This year marks the third time the PGA Championship has been contested on Oak Hill's East Course. And the club in Rochester, N.Y. boasts of being the only property to play host to the PGA Championship (2013, 2003, 1980), the U.S. Open Championship (1989, 1968, 1956), the Ryder Cup Matches (1995), U.S. Amateur Championship (1998, 1949), U.S. Senior Open Championship (1984) and Senior PGA Championship (2008).

 

Maintaining a facility with such a long-standing history is no minor feat. In fact, there are two requirements a superintendent needs to maintain major championship conditions at a course like Oak Hill a great staff and an understanding family. Fortunately Jeff Corcoran has both.

 

"During the summer, I'm here from 75 to 100 hours per week," said Corcoran, Oak Hill's director of golf courses and grounds. "In the final run-up to the PGA, the hours might ramp up even more."

 

Corcoran, 40, has worked at Oak Hill since he interned there in 1994. He was hired on the following year after graduating from Penn State, and prepped under Joe Hahn, CGCS and Paul B. Latshaw, CGCS, before succeeding the latter as manager of golf courses and grounds in 2003.

 

A typical week for Corcoran and assistants Fred Doheny, Phil Cuffare and Charles Zaranac means arriving between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. and staying until 5, 6 or 7 at night depending on daily irrigation needs. 

 

That has been especially true this summer, which has been hot, humid and wet with 15 inches of rain (5 above the historic average) having fallen since May 1 in Rochester. Those conditions have made the run up to this year's PGA Championship particularly grueling for Corcoran and his staff of 65.

 

No. 6 on the East Course at Oak Hill Country Club. Photo by Montana Pritchard Photography."There is never a break during the summer," Corcoran said. "One of the things they don't teach you in college is the hard work and dedication that it takes to maintain a place like Oak Hill to the expectation levels we have."

 

It also takes an understanding wife.

 

Over the years, Corcoran's wife, Mary, has grown accustomed to playing roles of both mom and dad to the couple's two young children throughout the summer. Whether it's the mundane daily stuff like shuttling kids to the doctor or dentist's office, or summer getaways, she does it all

 

"She definitely puts up with the long hours and me working every Saturday, every Sunday and every holiday," Corcoran said. 

 

"She understands what I need to do where my job is concerned. She makes sure the house ticks. She carries the burden of family duties, which allows me to do what I need to do here at the golf course. If I didn't have that support, it would make it tough."

 

Corcoran makes up for lost time at home once the golf season winds down.

 

"I try like hell to make up for it in the winter, or if it's a rainy day when we can leave early," he said. "Anything I can do to take over some of the parental duties."

 

Despite the stress of working nearly 100 hours per week month after month and the resulting strain his schedule places upon his family, Corcoran said he wouldn't trade his job for anything.

 

"I love it. I can't imagine doing anything else," he said. "Why? It's simple; all those same challenges that make it so hard are what make it interesting. That makes me want to be out there and put in long hours to experience that satisfaction that comes with maintaining a golf course at the high level possible, and then every 10 years or so do it for the best players in the world. There is a lot of pride that comes with maintaining a place like Oak Hill. It's one of the top golf courses in the world because of what we do, and I am proud of that."

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