Equipped for success at the U.S. Open

Shinnecock Hills Golf Club equipment manager Kevin Stoeckert has plenty of hands on deck for this major moment.


Shinnecock Hills equipment manager
Kevin Stoeckert (right), equipment manager at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, has something in common with Chicago Golf Club equipment manager Tony Nunes (left): Both have worked for Shinnecock Hills superintendent Jon Jennings, CGCS, who oversaw Nunes when both were at Chicago GC. Photo by Howard Richman

Supporting actors aren’t solely an Academy Awards thing.

See for yourself inside the workplace of Shinnecock Hills Golf Club equipment manager Kevin Stoeckert. This week, he has co-worker Antonio Pimental and a plethora of assistance — including13 volunteers — on hand for an event that Stoeckert rates as his top achievement. The 118th U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills in Southampton, N.Y., falls into the chance-of-a-lifetime category for Stoeckert. “This is the biggest thing that has ever happened in my life,” he says.

And who better to share it with than your peers? Should anything go awry, Stoeckert has plenty of help to lean on. Among those pitching in this week are Sean Brownson of Bethpage State Park Golf Course in Farmingdale, N.Y.; Michael Gugliotti of Southampton (N.Y.) Country Club; Kevin Knoblauch of Milwaukee Country Club; Greg Laschansky of Foley United; Timothy McCarthy of Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, N.Y.; Ryan McCulley of Westhampton Country Club in Westhampton Beach, N.Y.; Jim Nedin of The Toro Co.; Tony Nunes of Chicago Golf Club in Wheaton, Ill.; Rob Renner of National Golf Links of America in Southampton, N.Y.; Mark Reynolds of Long Island National Golf Club in Riverhead, N.Y.; Eric Rodriguez of National Golf Links of America; JR Wilson of Noyac Golf Club in Sag Harbor, N.Y; and Christopher Winegard of Atlantic Golf Club in Bridgehampton, N.Y.

For Nunes, the U.S. Open is also a reunion. Shinnecock Hills superintendent Jon Jennings, CGCS, was previously the superintendent at Chicago GC, and he hired Nunes there in 2004. “For Jon and me, the door was always open. Big communication, all the time,” Nunes says. “Jon is a straight shooter — there’s no around the block. That’s the way I am.”

Shop talk is plentiful for Stoeckert and his crew. They’re not only working together, but learning from each other. “If you can pick up something from one of them that they do at their club and maybe tweak something you do and make it better, it can enhance what you do every day,” Stoeckert says.

The Toro. Co has certainly provided them with ample equipment. In addition to what Shinnecock Hills already had, Toro supplied the club with 13 additional fairway units, nine Greensmaster 1000s, and 11 Workman HDX-D utility vehicles.

The presence of that extra equipment combined with his robust crew buoys Stoeckert, who grew up less than a mile from the club. He even says Shinnecock Hills “used to be my playground.” Now, it’s a playground for the best golfers in the world, and Stoeckert and his team’s charge is to help make it playable. “They (his team this week) all know their jobs. I don’t have to worry about what’s going on in here,” Stoeckert says.

Howard Richman is GCM’s associate editor.