A career of care for the turf industry

From playing the course to serving superintendents, Lawrence Field is a familiar face to turf professionals.


Lawrence Field
Lawrence Field has made a name for himself in golf and business. Photo by Andy Abeyta

He held his own against Tiger Woods, prevailed in a marquee event later won by eventual major champions and possesses an entrepreneur’s knack for business. And in the latest chapter of the journey for Lawrence Field, that knack has led to him making superintendents his business.

One example: Field donned hip waders to enter a pond at Shooting Star, an 18-hole golf club in Teton Village, Wyo. The chief executive officer of WaterIQ Technologies — a company that offers ultrasonic solutions to help control algae and biofilm in water ecosystems found in numerous industries from drinking water to wineries and, yes, golf — aligned with strategic market partner Solutions Algae Control to serve facilities such as Shooting Star, situated in sensitive, uber-environmentally friendly regions.

With a goal of keeping algae at bay and gaining ground on it without using chemicals, Field arrived at the pond for an equipment installation of a device that is black, 1 square foot in size and relatively discreet to golfers because there is no water fountain or agitation involved.

As he observed Field, Shooting Star’s golf course manager, Tyler Shrum, witnessed Field in his element. “He’s all about it. It’s fun to see the type of enthusiasm with being involved in his own product,” says Shrum, a 19-year GCSAA member. “You know his heart is in it.”

Whether at work or on the golf course with a club in his hand, Field continues to prove he’s all-in. “I don’t feel like I’m working,” says Field, who was a product exhibitor at the GCSAA Conference and Trade Show in Orlando. “It’s like being on the back of the range, hitting golf balls at night. Time stops.”

There were countless times Field excelled against the field. A kid from Oklahoma City who was an excellent student, Field also accumulated high marks on the golf course. In 1976 and 1977, he captured the annual Texas-Oklahoma Junior Golf Tournament. In that first one, Field opened a whopping 10-stroke lead before ultimately dusting the competition by seven.

In 1976, Field won the inaugural Boys Junior PGA Championship at Walt Disney Resort’s Magnolia Golf Course in Orlando.

Others who went on to take the trophy in future years were eventual major champions David Toms and Trevor Immelman. Even before he went to college, Field thought his career path was clear. “I guessed I’d be a pro golfer all my life,” he says.

Field attended the University of Texas. Field’s teammates included major champion-to-be Mark Brooks. In 1981, Texas earned a Southwest Conference championship, buoyed by a second-round and team-best 4-under-par 68 from Field, who was the Longhorns’ captain. Brooks, who would go on to win the 1996 PGA Championship, says Field was never one to rest on his laurels.

“Before analytics and data, he already was trying to figure things out with his golf game. He was methodical,” Brooks says. “He’d shoot a 68 and would go to the range to figure it out.”

It already was obvious by Field’s senior year that golf might not always take precedence. “I was reading golf books, and he was reading The Wall Street Journal,” says his college teammate and Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee. “He was a very good college player. But if you play professional golf, you have to be enormously talented. Obsessed with it. I think Lawrence had an obsession for business. He was a dedicated individual who was never prone to make bad decisions.”

Lawrence Field and Jordan Spieth
A University of Texas golf reunion of sorts for Longhorns standouts from different decades: Lawrence Field (left) and Jordan Spieth. Photo courtesy of Lawrence Field

If anything, Field multitasked. “My senior year versus Stanford, I was in the hunt. In the last round after nine holes, I called my stockbroker and asked how options I’d bought in a company were doing,” Field says.

After college, Field embarked on a journey inspired by innovation and boosting people and causes. Among them was his buyout of Tulsa Inspection Resources, a company that offers inspection, integrity and environmental services to the energy and municipal water industries. Under his leadership, TIR grew annual revenues from $70 million to $400 million. He also launched LDF Ventures, which targeted strategic investments in companies that promote the environment. “I met with Wall Street investors on a weekly basis for eight years,” Field says. “I liked the idea of the ability to grow things.”

WaterIQ essentially was born while Field played a round of golf at Shooting Star.

That is where he learned how Sonic Solutions implemented its technology to preserve water and wildlife cleanliness of the ponds surrounded by federal- and state-protected land. His curiosity and desire to take Shooting Star up a notch led to the partnership with Sonic Solutions.

Today, its products have been installed at more than 3,000 locations worldwide.

At Shooting Star, Field first connected with then-golf course manager and Tyler’s father, Bill Shrum, CGCS, who indicated the original Sonic Solutions equipment to tackle algae has been markedly improved by WaterIQ. “Upgrading the original equipment was similar to buying a desktop computer in the early ’90s compared to a computer today,” says Shrum, a 46-year association member. “Lawrence does his homework.”

Oh, about that Woods encounter: Field was paired with him for a 1996 pro-am in The Tour Championship at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla., where Field was a member. This was less than two full months after Woods had turned pro and already won twice. “When we teed off, there were 5,000, maybe 10,000 people following us. I think I shot 1-under. He shot even. I think he was just playing around,” Field says.

Field, who with his wife, Nikki, has three sons (Lawrence Jr., Andrew and Alexander), says he doesn’t play much golf anymore, but you couldn’t tell from the results. “I think I’m a 2 (handicap),” he says. A winner of multiple club championships over the years, including Southern Hills, he added another to his collection this year with the senior club title at Bighorn Golf Club in Palm Desert, Calif.

He harbors no regrets about not pursuing a playing career. Field watched his friends, such as Gil Morgan, Mark Hayes and David Edwards, travel 30-plus weeks a year and decided tournament life looked stressful. Yet asked how he might have performed as a Tour member, Field says, “I always assumed I would have been successful. Not sure a top-10 (player) on the PGA Tour, but it could have been a good career.”

Nowadays, Field is intent on boosting the careers of others. Superintendents are essential to his cause. “Most superintendents don’t realize they have harmful blue-green algae on their golf course,” says Field. “I’m passionate about helping superintendents become better stewards of the environment.”

Howard Richman is GCM's associate editor.

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