Oakmont Country Club’s John Zimmers, who survived a scare from Mother Nature to help his club host what many have called the best U.S. Open of the modern era, Friday was named the 2007 golf course Superintendent of the Year.
Zimmers, 37, was selected from superintendents throughout the U.S. who were nominated for the honor by club members, general managers, assistants and club professionals in recognition of their contributions to course conditions, labor and budget management and service to golf clientele.
The eighth annual Superintendent of the Year award was presented by TurfNet Media Network, which covers the golf turf industry, and sponsored by Club Car, which manufactures golf cars and turf utility vehicles.
“The work John and his team did to overcome challenges they had no control over and provide the conditions Oakmont and the USGA required for the U.S. Open was phenomenal,” saidMike Packer, vice president of Worldwide Sales for Club Car, who presented a Club Car Carryall Turf 252 utility vehicle to Zimmers during last week’s Golf Industry Show.
After planning for more than five years in anticipation of hosting the Open, Zimmers watched as a late-spring snow turned to freezing rain and a sheet of ice covered Oakmont’s prized greens.
“It was like watching five or six years of work just go down the tubes,” Zimmers said. “You couldn’t have prepared for it and you couldn’t stop it, either.”
Zimmers and his crew ramped up their schedule from 14-hour days to 16- and 17-hour shifts to cover the greens and nurture them back to health prior to the Open in June.
“It was a very, very trying time, but as a staff and crew we came together to do what we had to do,” said Zimmers, who is in his ninth year at the Oakmont club outside Pittsburgh.