Chapter Resources

Athletes enjoy Iowa GCSA walking tours

The Special Olympics brought its Golf National Invitational Tournament to Ames Golf & Country Club in Ames, Iowa, Sept. 16 – 19. Golf course superintendent members from the Iowa GCSA conducted walking tours of the ninth hole on Sept. 17. Supporting sponsors included GCSAA and the LPGA.


From left to right: John Ausen, CGCS: Hyperion Field Club - Johnston, Iowa; Tom Verrips, CGCS: Otter Creek Golf Course - Ankeny, Iowa; Don Portwine, CGCS: Ames Golf & Country Club - Ames, Iowa; Jeff Wendel, CGCS: Iowa GCSA - Ames, Iowa; John Newton, CGCS: Veenker Memorial Golf Course - Ames, Iowa

The tour featured presentations on the history of golf and the host course, on golf and the environment, various course construction techniques, course preparation, conditioning and other maintenance practices and golfer responsibilities in caring for the course. The Iowa GCSA members who conducted the tour included Jeff Wendel, CGCS, Iowa GCSA executive director; John Ausen, CGCS at Hyperion Field Club in Johnston, Iowa; John Newton, CGCS at Veenker Memorial Golf Course in Ames; Don Portwine, CGCS at Ames Golf & Country Club in Ames, Iowa and Tom Verrips, CGCS at Otter Creek Golf Course in Ankeny, Iowa.

This was an opportunity to share with the athletes a little bit about the golf course superintendent profession, and how the superintendent’s work affects not only the golf course, but also playing conditions. Wendel recapped the beginnings of the game in the 15th century, explained the origin of the term “caddie” and introduced the team of superintendents. Verrips spoke on the need for variety in tree plantings, the environmental and operational benefits of natural areas, and the proper method for repairing ball marks. Ausen demonstrated a variety of hickory shafted clubs from the turn of the century and spoke on the cool season grass varieties and their adaptation. Portwine explained the 2001 renovation of hole #9 at Ames Golf & Country Club and related his scheme for managing the pond near the ninth tee. Newton demonstrated the proper technique for locating and cutting a new hole in the #9 green and spoke about the cost and maintenance of golf course equipment.

Each of the certified superintendents who conducted the walking tours enjoyed working with the Special Olympics organization, and answered a number of questions from the tour groups. The work done for the athletes in organizing this event is truly inspiring and the commitment to providing the athletes the opportunity to play in a well-organized and administered event is remarkable.

Don Portwine, CGCS, thanks the Special Olympics organization for the opportunity to host this event. Portwine said,“Anytime we can give any PR to make the public more aware of our industry, it’s always a positive experience.” Asked if he would do it again, Portwine answered, “We would like the opportunity, and we have ideas of how to make the walking tour even better!”

Submitted by Jeff Wendel, CGCS, Iowa GCSA executive director


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