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Hilands’ Pete Grass works Ryder Cup

Posted at 3:18 PM, Dec 26, 2016
and last updated 2018-08-02 17:21:25-04
Pete Grass working the 2016 Ryder Cup in Minnesota. (Casey Conlon, MTN Sports)

CHASKA, Minn. – It looked like Christmas around Hazeltine National Golf Club today. The U.S.
team told fans they wanted a red-out in the gallery and all that red was set against a backdrop of some of the greenest green you’ll ever see, which is always what catches Pete Grass’ eye.

“It’s amazing to see” said Pete Grass, President of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. “I look at the quality of cut, the attention to detail in the bunkers, I’m more excited to see great turfgrass than the best players in the world”

This week’s Ryder Cup marked the last big event of Grass’ year as the President of the Golf
Course Superintendents Association of America. While most were watching Patrick Reed
and Rory McIlory put on a show, Grass lived largely behind the scenes.
“Truly essential that our message of the maintenance of golf courses, what our members do on a day-to-day basis to provide enjoyment, recreation on a day to day impact, is the message that we carry.” Grass continues, “It’s truly a blessing and an honor to be able to serve.”

There is no doubting Grass’ passion for the game he loves – which is why the organization had no problem with the fact that he was the first President from a nine-hole facility.

“When you think about golf, majors are great” said Rhett Evans, CEO of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. “What’s just as fun is the Saturday game
in a rural community. Having Pete represent the GSCAA, coming from a background of 9 holes,really means a lot to the association.”

Toro CEO Rick Olson echoed those sentiments. “Really speaks to the breadth and range that golf touches, something that’s approachable throughout the population, GCSA helps pull that all together.”

It’s not just in America. The Ryder Cup is the perfect place for greenskeepers from around
the world to get together. And it never takes long to get the conversation flowing.

Steve Chappell, the head groundskeeper at Gleneagles had this to say. “Really cool thing about the industry is whether you’re growing fescue or bent grass, we’re all trying to produce the same thing.” He continues, “because there’s that common bond, it really just brings everybody together, greenskeepers from all four corners of the earth, around a table, everyone clicks.”

Chappell knows first hand how much effort goes into making a big event TV ready.

“It’s a different level, our manpower and resources, but there’s still that appreciation
that we’re trying to produce the best surface, whether it’s 5 staff or 100 staff, our goal
is the same.”

Pete Grass can’t help but agree.

“What the average golfer doesn’t see is the equipment companies bring in 50 extra pieces of equipment, contingency plans, Hilands is still same 5-6 people, important for them to know the PGA Tour is totally different, which allows them to provide absolutely gorgeous conditions like this.”

But even Hazeltine wasn’t perfect this week – which is good. It gave Grass the opportunity
to do what he always says is his main job back home – picking up sticks.

“Actually, I’ve picked up a few,” said Grass. “My fellow board members make fun of me because I pick up things at Augusta National or Hilands, if I see something out of place, just by habit I will pick it up, picked up a few sticks and candy wrappers already today walking around Hazeltine”

Turns out the big boys needed a little 9-hole love, too.