Shinnecock Hills Golf Club is typically in championship condition throughout its season, so it’s no surprise that the course was ready for member play immediately after the U.S. Open ended.
Outside the ropes, away from the fairways and greens that drew so much attention during the tournament, the club’s recovery from hosting golf’s second major championship will take considerably longer. Particularly in the areas that were covered by grandstands, corporate tents, restroom facilities and more than 20 miles of fiber optic cable.
“With everything moving, coming undone and areas that haven’t seen light for four months, we’re probably looking at a two to three year recovery,” Shinnecock Hills Superintendent Jon Jennings said, “Especially in the native rough areas, because the fescue takes a while to establish. The first year, it’s just kind of green; the second year it moves along a little bit more, but the third year is when it blends in seamlessly. So it’s a three-year recovery period before everything is back online.”
Every year there seem to be more tents at the U.S. Open, whether it’s for merchandise, food & beverage or corporate hospitality. This year, the tents at Shinnecock Hills had 385,000 square feet of canvas – enough to cover the playing surface at New York’s MetLife Stadium eight times. There was also 556,000 square feet of flooring – enough to cover the basketball floor in Madison Square Garden 99 times.
For Jennings and his regular staff of more than 30, which includes three assistants, the most involved tournament preparation was all the construction away from the field of play.
“With all the tents and grandstands they were building, it was about locating where our wires and pipes are, all the infrastructure, to make sure nobody hit anything,” Jennings said. “And then just the communication coordinating all those things.”
Now that the pros and hordes of golf fans have cleared out of the tony Southampton community on eastern Long Island, the golf season is just kicking into full gear at Shinnecock Hills. Jack Druga, the club’s head professional, said about 60 percent of Shinnecock’s membership is from New York City, 30 percent lives in the Hamptons area and the remaining 10 percent are national members.
“We play about 13,000 rounds and the club is open from mid-April to early November,” says Druga. “But the weather in Long Island can be snowing in April, so late June, July and August is really when our season starts. So the U.S. Open didn’t really disrupt it that much.”