Planet Golf — 15 July 2012 by Bob Sherwin
Chambers’ hires fescue specialists

UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wa. – Chambers Bay golf course’s vast fields of fescue are in good hands.

The course, which will host the 2015 U.S. Open, is pointing to that event with recent changes made to its grounds crew. Chambers has brought in a pair of experts who understand the vagaries of fescue, which covers the entire course.

Eric Johnson started work this past week as the course’s director of agronomy. He had been serving as the Bandon Dunes’ grounds superintendent, specifically the Old MacDonald course.

“He is someone I’ve known for 10-plus years,” said Chambers Bay General Manager Matt Allen, who had spent 9 ½ years in a similar role at Bandon, the southern Oregon golf mecca.

Johnson replaces Dave Wienecke, who had been head of the grounds operation for the first six years of Chambers’ existence. Wienecke, 59, the first employee hired by KemperSports Management in July 2006, had resigned from his position.

Last September, the course hired Josh Lewis to work under Wienecke. Lewis also is a former employee at Bandon Dunes and more recently was the assistant superintendent at Pasatiempo Golf Club in Santa Cruz, Ca.

“He’s (Lewis) got a lot of fescue experience, too,” Allen said. “So we’ve got as potent an agronomic combination that you could possibly have.”

Because the course also has the responsibility for landscaping the walking and service trails that meander through the property, Lewis will have the title of golf course superintendent. Johnson’s title will be the director of agronomy.

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Bob Sherwin

Bob grew up in Cleveland, an underdog city with perennial underdog teams, and that gave him an appreciation and an affinity for the grinders in golf, guys such as Rocco Mediate, Jhonattan Vegas and star-crossed John Daly. This is the 44th year for Bob as a sportswriter, the first 34 working for newspapers throughout the west, Tucson (Daily Star), San Francisco (Examiner) and Seattle (Times), and the past 10 years as a freelancer. He has covered just about every sport, including golf tournaments, Tucson Open, Bing Crosby/AT&T Pro-Am, the 1998 PGA Championship, the 2010 U.S. Senior Open, the 2010 U.S. Amateur and the annual Champions Tour Boeing Classic. He also writes articles for golf magazines. For most of his 20 years at the Seattle Times his primary beat was the Mariners. He then picked up Washington men's basketball in the winter. He also was the beat writer for the Sonics, including 1996 when they played the Bulls for the NBA title. After a lifetime hacking on public courses, he finally gave in and joined a country club in 2011, the Members Club of Aldarra near Seattle. He won't win the club championship any time soon with his 14 handicap and default-swing slice but he does have a pair of aces – 37 years apart – and in 2009 came agonizingly close to his ultimate golf goal of scoring in the 70s when he finished with an even 80. He lives in Seattle, and spends part of his winters in Marco Island, Fla.

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