Shaffer and Crew Stay the Course

June 13, 2013 in Alumni

You think Matt Shaffer has had easier weeks?

From the moment Merion East found out it was going to host its fifth U.S. Open this year, he understood that the whole golf universe would be watching his every move. And making judgements on everything from the speed of the greens to the height of the rough and anything in between.

Maybe even the turtle soup they serve on the veranda.

As the director of golf course operations, that’s his job. And his responsibility. As he put it a few months ago, his Super Bowl. Because the condition of the course is paramount. The rest is pretty much details. You don’t get a mulligan. And you never know when, or if, you’re going to get another showcase like this.

It wasn’t his fault that Merion got hit with a deluge last Friday. Or that another storm blew through on Monday. Now, there’s supposedly more water and perhaps even worse on the way for today’s opening round. Shades of Bethpage Black, 2009. And really, who needs another one of those?

But that’s what Shaffer and his staff have been dealt. It’s a staff that includes his 50 people plus another 130 from near and far who came to pitch in. So he’s got that going for him. And he might need every single one of them before it’s over, whenever that might be.

“I get bored easy, and I can assure you I haven’t been bored once,” Shaffer said yesterday, following the USGA news conference. “It’s exciting. I have so many good people down there [in the maintenance building]. One took 25 hours to get here from Australia. That’s the kind of commitment we’ve got. So the storm isn’t going to break that spirit, you know.”

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