2022 U.S. Open: It took a team

The agronomy staff, volunteers from around the globe and industry partners such as BASF joined forces at The Country Club to host the nation’s biggest championship.


Golf course at The Country Club
The praiseworthy U.S. Open tournament conditions at The Country Club were the result of strong teamwork from superintendents, staff, volunteers and industry partners. Photo courtesy of The Country Club

Editor’s note: The following article was supplied by BASF. All product claims, research cited and other information is directly from the company.

Major championships put a spotlight on golf course conditions, and the 2022 U.S. Open was no exception. The overriding goal for the host superintendent is to create a fair but challenging test of golf. This year, conditions at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., were universally praised. How did Dave Johnson, the GCSAA Class A director of grounds, achieve his goals and meet the expectations of players, members and the USGA alike?

It took years of preparation and an unwavering commitment to good, fundamental agronomy. It also took incredible creativity to fit all the logistical support a U.S. Open requires into a fairly small footprint tucked into suburban Boston. And it took incredible dedication to stay focused through the pandemic and all of the uncertainty it brought with it.

But mostly, it took a team.

Dave Johnson

Johnson (pictured right) may have been the first-ever recipient of the USGA’s E.J. Marshall Award for outstanding course preparation, but he was quick to credit the team of 136 top-notch staff members and volunteers who worked tirelessly on course preparations for seven full days and nights during the championship. His regular crew, supplemented by 100 volunteers from near and far, created flawless golf conditions.

But Johnson’s team extended beyond his staff.  BASF was among three primary partners supporting the agronomy needs of The Country Club as they prepared for the championship. Johnson and his team relied on BASF products such as Lexicon Intrinsic brand fungicide, Navicon Intrinsic brand fungicide, Emerald fungicide and Encartis fungicide as key parts of their tournament spray program.

“The support from BASF and our other partners was tremendous from start to finish. It began 4 years ago when we were focused on growing healthy plants to withstand the stress we add especially when preparing for a Championship,” says Johnson, a 23-year GCSAA member. “The BASF product line was a great option in promoting plant health and is the backbone of our agronomic plan on all surfaces. As far as telling the story goes, the BASF team surrounded me and my entire team, made us feel comfortable and worked hard to show how we support each other and work together to be successful. It was amazing to watch from the outside how the stories unfolded, because it was about our lives and we let the world in to see.”

The BASF support for this year’s major championship also included helping to make the volunteer experience truly outstanding, offering supplies and education for staff and volunteers through the tournament week. Additionally, BASF supported the team by telling the stories of the men and women who created the exceptional golf conditions for the 2022 U.S. Open.

As a preview to the championship, BASF showcased Johnson and his team, introducing them to colleagues around the world and telling the story of the course preparations to date, including their agronomy program and the extensive improvements done with architect Gil Hanse.

Just prior to the championship, BASF profiled Dave Johnson and his key staff members to tell the story behind his team.

Veteran superintendent and eight-year GCSAA member Anthony Howard earned his stripes at The Country Club prior to Johnson’s arrival and became a key member of the team as renovations and championship preparations gathered speed.

Anthony Howard has been at The Country Club for a decade and his experience was invaluable to the team.

Grounds superintendent Adam Bennett, a 14-year member of GCSAA, focused on the incredible logistics of hosting tens of thousands of spectators at The Country Club. 

Grounds superintendent Adam Bennet took on the challenge of working with dozens of contractors to build infrastructure and other non-turf projects that were critical to hosting the championship.

And equipment and shop manager Toby Christoun maintains the finely-tuned fleet of equipment with technical aptitude and turf knowledge that makes him an invaluable member of the team. 

Toby Christoun was on a path as a career superintendent but his passion for managing an equipment fleet soon pointed him in a different direction.

BASF provides ongoing support for the golf industry through continued innovation and offering products and technical support for superintendents and their teams that help them achieve optimal plant health and playing surfaces. One way that BASF ensures that they are meeting the needs of the industry is by supporting major tournaments around the country. Jan Coetzer, Marketing Manager for BASF, and Jeff Vannoy, Senior Product Manager for BASF, discuss why they feel it’s so important to invest in these teams as they prepare for championships.

Jeff Vannoy and Jan Coetzer talk about why investing in championship agronomy programs is a reflection of the overall commitment BASF has to the industry.

“These events give us a window into the minds of superintendents from different backgrounds and allow us to gain insights into how we can continue to innovate for the industry,” says Vannoy. “It’s inspiring for us to see them motivated and watch their teams work together to create incredible conditions”.

Learn more about turf innovations from BASF on their website (www.betterturf.basf.us). Always read and follow label directions. Products may not be registered for sale or use in all states. Please check with your state or local Extension service.