Michael S. Williams

Pomona, California 91767
(818) 425-6142

El Caballero Country Club

Assistant Golf Course Superintendent - 1999
18300 Tarzana Drive
Tarzana, California 91356
(818) 654- 3000

Just south of Ventura Boulevard in Tarzana, California is El Caballero Country Club. Designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. in 1957 this private golf course features tight tree lined fairways with large sloping greens and water hazards. Shot selection comes into almost every hole with uphill/downhill lies and blind tee shots. A true test to all levels of golfers. El Caballero has held PGA US Open qualifiers and was home to The Office Depot / City of Hope LPGA Championship in 2002-2004.

Assistant Superintendent

My move to El Caballero Country Club was one of high hopes and after leaving Ohio I was looking forward to a new challenge in California. I was to work with Doug Meadows who was just promoted to Superintendent a few months earlier. It was important for me to learn as much as possible at the golf course for I was dealing with new grasses, cultural practices, weather conditions and a Hispanic work force for the first time. The first couple months were tough for me to communicate with the coworkers for my Spanish skills were only of a high school level. In time I picked up on phrases and eventually my communication skills were good enough to ask general questions and complete tasks. Another issue that I didn't realize how challenging it would be was the weather. A typical Tarzana yearly rainfall amount was only between 20 and 22"which was mainly in the winter months and Summer time temperatures would frequently reach 100 degrees and higher. Green construction was sand based so during warmer temperatures hand watering was the desired method of syringing greens. From late May through early October normal work weeks were 70 hours or more with one day off.

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#13 Fairway-
#18 Fairway

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The highlight of our golfing season was holding a PGA US Open qualifier in the first part of June. Only three positions were available out of the field of 120. Preparation began ten days in advance by double cutting/rolling greens, striping fairways, hand mowing tees and decreasing irrigation times. Before the event I was able to work with PGA officials to gain their knowledge on tournament setup and what they wanted from a PGA event. Leading up to the event I would cut tees or fairways during the evening hours to decrease the next days work load. It was a rewarding ten days to learn what is expected from the PGA and how many hours are required to prepare a golf course for this kind of event.

The rest of the golfing season was normal maintenance with small projects. It was during this time I concentrated to learn more on warm season grasses, diseases and cultural practices by speaking with turf sales people, attending local chapter meetings and working closely with our staff. By the end of the summer I felt I had a good understanding on west coast maintenance but there was one more cultural practice to do before the end of the year. Overseeding. El Caballero would close for two weeks while we overseeded the entire golf course wall to wall. The bermuda based course would use ryegrass at 400 lbs/Acre to overseed green banks, roughs and fairways. Prior to the time that were closed to overseed, the irrigation was basically turned off. Once the bermuda was dry enough, roughs and fairways were scalped down and opened up and green/bunker banks were cut down by hand to receive the ryegrass. After completion the irrigation was turned back on to help germinate the new ryegrass. Within ten days the new grass was up and growing and the golf course was open to the membership and until the grass was established carts were limited to cart paths only.

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-#14 Green
#17 Green

 

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I am thankful for the time that Doug Meadows spent with me learning about west coast golf maintenance practices. After one season I felt I was ready for a Superintendent position again. I left El Caballero for a new position as Superintendent at Chester Washington Golf Course in Los Angeles.

El Caballero Country Club