Caves Valley basks in glow

Senior Open rave reviews boost site's future hopes

U.S. Amateur is a possibility

USGA: `It met every test

... it was all top-shelf'

July 02, 2002|By Don Markus | Don Markus,SUN STAFF

The buzz about Sunday night's dramatic conclusion to the 2002 U.S. Senior Open at Caves Valley Golf Club could still be felt yesterday from Owings Mills to Far Hills, the New Jersey headquarters of the U.S. Golf Association.

Dennis Satyshur, the director of golf operations for the 11-year-old club, was beaming about how smoothly the event had gone and how many people were involved in the process.

"There are so many parts to this, so many people who made this work," said Satyshur, who even got to play a round as a marker during the third round. "If any of the parts are not working, the event suffers. A lot of people did a lot of things right."

Said Les Disharoon, the club's founder and chairman: "We had three audiences to satisfy - the players, the USGA and the fans. According to everything I heard, saw and felt, all three were very happy with the golf course, the venue and being in Baltimore."

USGA executive director David Fay said before Sunday's round that all aspects of the event were performed at the highest level. By the time he returned to his office yesterday, Fay said the club's reputation had been enhanced even more.

It wasn't just the five-hole playoff that concluded with Don Pooley's 8-foot birdie putt to beat Hall of Famer Tom Watson on the second hole of sudden death. It was also the rave reviews that were given to course superintendent Steve Glossinger and his crew.

"It met every test," Fay said yesterday. "The way it was presented, it was all top-shelf. What happened in the last 2 1/2 hours cemented its position as a memorable venue. That's what you're looking for."

Fay disclosed that Caves Valley submitted a formal bid last year to hold a future U.S. Amateur, and more serious discussions about that possibility will take place in the next few months.

With all USGA championships booked through 2007, the Amateur would likely come no earlier than 2008. That fits into Caves Valley's timetable, because the club that played host to the 1994 Mid-Amateur Championship will hold the NCAA men's championship in 2005.

"You can't do these type of events every two years. It's not fair to the members," Disharoon said. "We would like to be able to do something like this every three to five years."

If Caves Valley gets an invitation to hold the U.S. Amateur, the USGA would need to find another course, because the weeklong event begins with a stroke-play portion before it moves into match play.

Woodholme Country Club in Pikesville shared the stroke-play portion with Caves Valley in the Mid-Amateur. Another possibility is Hayfields Country Club in nearby Hunt Valley, which played host to another senior tour event, the Greater Baltimore Classic, before the Senior Open.

"Any event like the Amateur requires two championship courses," Fay said Sunday.

Fay said the USGA has had "general discussions, nothing specific yet" with officials from Caves Valley regarding future events, and there is still plenty of competition from other clubs to hold any of the organization's 13 championships.

"We're fortunate in all our championships," Fay said. "There are a lot of pretty girls that want to dance with you."

But Caves Valley got the opportunity to showcase itself and put on a fairly impressive performance on a number of levels.

The 7,005-yard course proved to be tough, but willing to accept great shots, as Pooley and Watson showed over and over during their many trips to the par-4 18th hole.

The bleachers and natural amphitheater surrounding the 18th green were filled right up to the end with boisterous but mostly respectful fans.

"It was a great crowd out here all week, especially on 18," Pooley said. "It was pretty special."

Said Watson: "The golf course played to my expectations. I thought it was going to be 6- to 10-under par to win the tournament, and 10-under was the number, and with perfect conditions. It held up as a very good Open venue, a very, very good one."

With a very good chance to hold another national championship down the road.

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