Turning things up at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, on Tuesday, Aug. 31. Photo by GCSAA TV
GCSAA Class A superintendent John Zimmers has compiled quite a résumé, having overseen two U.S. Opens, one U.S. Women’s Open and a U.S. Amateur while at Oakmont Country Club in Oakmont, Pa. Zimmers, however, never has encountered anything like this.
Zimmers left famed Oakmont four years ago to accept a new opportunity at another facility that has legendary status. Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, was the first club to host a U.S. Open, U.S. Senior Open, U.S. Amateur and U.S. Junior Amateur, the latter in 2019. It also hosted two PGA Championships. This month, Inverness Club will welcome another marquee event. For the first time in its storied existence that dates to 1903, Inverness Club will host women’s teams from the U.S. and Europe for the Solheim Cup, slated Sept. 4-6.
The Solheim Cup’s format is unlike any that Zimmers has experienced. “I’ve never done anything like this, to be honest. They encourage fans to make noise,” says Zimmers, a 29-year GCSAA member whose association with Oakmont and Inverness means he has worked at two venues on the National Register of Historic Places. “This is an event that is just different than the others I have been a part of. It’s pretty gratifying.”
GCSAA TV caught up with John Zimmers as Solheim Cup prep was in full swing at Inverness Club earlier this summer:
It didn’t take long for Zimmers to be part of major changes at Inverness Club, where Donald Ross was the original architect and golf great Byron Nelson was head professional in the 1940s. Less than a month after he arrived, Zimmers contributed to renovation work that included the new No. 3, which replicates the old No. 8 (shown below), enlarged greens on some holes, bunker renovations that provide more challenges, and the recovery of some greens complexes that were staples of the original design.
The renovated No. 3 at Inverness Club replicates the course’s former No. 8. Image courtesy of John Zimmers
Four par-3 holes that previously went the same direction were changed by implementing new tees, allowing golfers to experience various options. Zimmers and his crew worked with architect Andrew Green and McDonald & Sons Golf Course Builders to ensure the turf (Pure Distinction bentgrass greens, PureFormance bentgrass/Poa annua fairways and tees, and bluegrass/perennial ryegrass/turf-type tall fescue rough) would endure and thrive through winter and be ready for a 2018 reopening.
“We also removed a lot of trees,” says Zimmers, who hosted the LPGA’s Drive On Championship tournament in 2020. “It’s a totally different golf course than it was 30 or 40 years ago.”
Currently, Zimmers is participating in a project on 40 acres of land behind Inverness Club. First Tee of Lake Erie and the Boys & Girls Club of Toledo collaborated to bring a youth center that will feature a driving range and athletic fields. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is slated for Solheim Cup week. “It’s been challenging, fun and exciting,” Zimmers says. “This and the Solheim Cup is big for the state of Ohio, city of Toledo and Inverness. We’ll have 20,000 people here per day for the Solheim Cup. It’s game on now.”
Meet some of the volunteer workforce who’ve helped get Inverness Club in top form during the lead-up to this week’s Solheim Cup:
The 2021 Solheim Cup: Golf course facts
The 2021 Solheim Cup will be held Sept. 4-6 at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio.
Greens: Pure Distinction bentgrass maintained at .100 inch
Tees: PureFormance bentgrass/Poa annua maintained at .335 inch
Fairways: PureFormance bentgrass/Poa annua maintained at .350 inch
Rough: Bluegrass/perennial ryegrass/turf-type tall fescue maintained at 2.5 inch
Year built: 1919
Architect: Donald Ross
Renovation: Andrew Green, 2017
Average green size: 5,000-6,000 square feet
Acres of fairway: 32
Acres of rough: 85
Number of sand bunkers: 85
Number of water hazards: 2 creeks
Number of holes on which water is in play: 9
Soil conditions: Sandy loam
Water sources: City and well
John F. Zimmers Jr., superintendent
Carlton Henry, assistant superintendent
Ryan Kaczor, assistant superintendent
Donald Crossway, equipment manager
Sue Dussel, horticulturist
J.J. Weaver, director of golf
A.J. Sikula, PGA professional
Number of employees: 30
Number of tournament volunteers: 10 to 15