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Interviewed on November 11, 2004 [conducted by telephone by John Godley]
Interview (7 mins)
Mrs. Resnik is the second wife of Burt Resnik (class of 1934), who played on the golf teams that won the national USGA intercollegiate championships in 1931, 1932, and 1933. Before his death, Mr. Resnik gave money so that new short tees could be built on the seventh, eighth, and eighteenth holes. This is commemorated by a brass plaque at the seventh hole tee box.
Course superintendent Interviewed on September 7, 2004
Interview (44 mins)
Scott Ramsay arrived at Yale in the fall of 2003 from the Orchards Golf Club in South Hadley, MA (which he was preparing as the site for the 2004 USGA Woman’s Open) with 20 years experience as a superintendent.
Scott’s father was in the landscaping business, while his father-in-law worked as a golf course superintendent at the same course for more than 40 years. Scott is himself a graduate of the University of Rhode Island with a degree in golf course management, and he has worked as a superintendent at courses in Westchester County, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, as well as serving as a regional manager for the Arnold Palmer Management Company.
From his first visit in 1986, Scott was attracted to Yale, describing it as “unique, angular, with complex routing and big greens on a grand scale, having a great tradition and being part of a university.”
When he first arrived at Yale, the union staff had just gone on strike so Scott used coaches, administrators, and members to maintain the course for several weeks. Since then he has improved union management relations; after only one year he had a staff triple the size of that when he arrived. His staff consists of permanent full time, full time seasonal, and part time seasonal (dinning hall staff and students) employees, with 16-20 employed at the peak. With this staff and new equipment, the greens can be cut daily and the fairways groomed every 2-3 days before play begins.
With the completion of the bunker renovation/restoration project, drainage problems have been corrected and a long range tree removal program around tees, greens and along fairways has begun. Scott has begun to reclaim green edges, resulting in several “false fronts,” and he hopes to restore the “double punch bowl” green on the third hole. This is all part of his desire to reclaim, preserve and restore this great course that is so well “designed for match play.”
Second Interview (February 13, 2007) 41 mins.
On February 23, 2007, Scott Ramsay was named the 2006 Golf Course Superintendent of the Year.
In the 2-½ years since his first interview Scott has not changed his view of those features of the course that first attracted him i.e. “angular, complex routing and greens, unique, on a grand scale”. Almost ever month he discovers something that had been hidden and adds to its unique character. During this time the course has moved up in ranking by Golf Digest from not listed at all, to 60th and now 45th of the 100 Classic Courses in America.
When Scott arrived in 2003 the union was on strike. When the crew returned to work he told them that his goal was for this to be the “best work unit on campus”. That goal seems to have been realized since he was just informed that the entire golf course mntainence crew would be the honorees for the 2007 Yale Golf Classic. The 2006 honoree was David Swenson the celebrated manager of the Yale endowments.
Bunker restoration and renovation had been completed when he arrived. The drainage improvement program had just begun and now is about one-half completed. It started with the worst areas i.e. hole # 7 and # 11. Drainage of # 2 and # 6 has been delayed for 18 months because of weather conditions, but is due to start in March 2007. The 4th fairway is going to be raised, as much as 13 inches in the landing area near the pond. Topsoil for this job became available when it was removed from the soccer field and replaced with artificial turf. New drainage will then be installed. The program will be completed when holes 10, 14, 15, and 16 are done next year. Our crew, mainly to deal with cart path runoff on holes # 1, 4, 8, 16 & 18, has built dry wells there.
Approximately 2,500 trees have been removed Since Scott became superintendent. The first reason for this was safety. Rotting trees, many of the “widow maker” variety, were falling at the gate, over carts paths and tees. For example, during a tournament, a 100-foot tall Tulip tree fell across the 15th cart path and tee. Trees were removed to improve air circulation at tees and greens and to improve turf everywhere with more sunlight. These were trees that had grown into areas where they had first been cut down to build the course over 80 years ago. Scott is now pruning and managing “specimen trees” such as the Dawn Redwoods on holes # 6, 10, and 18. These trees like the swampy areas found there and were planted by the forestry school many years ago.
Green edges are being reclaimed. The greens were originally built by “capping the area of the planned green with green-mix”. That was a combination of “glacial sand and muck” found on-site, mixed and transported to the planned green by horse drawn cart. Because of their unique composition they drain off the surface, rather then through the soil. Scott can now use a “soil profile probe” to see where the edges of the original greens were and restore them accordingly. Two “plug nurseries” have been established using the plugs from aeration. This soil can then be used when an area of a green needs to be resoded.
Scott then talked about specific improvements hole by hole.
Hole # 1 “is a great start”. The fairway has been widened and extended around the left front bunker all the way to the left side of the green. The widened fairway brings into play the effect of balls repelling off the sloping fairway, increasing the difficulty of the hole. Photographs have shown that left front bunker wall at the green used to be higher, hiding the left front of the green. Scott would like to restore this feature.
Hole # 2 the fairway has been widened to “reclaim the grandeur of the hole”. On this short par four the widening the fairway has the effect of increasing the difficulty. Now long drives can run over the hill on the left or repel off the mound on the right.
Hole # 3 has not been changed. But the green had been changed from the original large “double punchbowl” configuration and Scott would like to see it restored. Also, the cart path near the green is often a problem in tournament rulings. He wondered about eliminating the cart path and making the area from the old bunker to the green and along the lake a waste area that could also be the cart path.
Hole # 4 has been “opened up by removing trees right and left to restore its line of charm”. By that he means to charm the player into taking a line of more risk than he normally would. Here that means trying to shorten distance by challenging the pond on the right.
Hole # 5 has been widened by the removal of trees. Even so, from the long tee the front bunker is not seen because of the native grasses.
Hole # 6 by confining the hazard on the left of the dogleg to the open watercourse, rather than the entire area from fairway to woods, Scott has encourage the player to risk going to that side [the line of charm].
Hole # 7 the fairway has been extended all the way up Horse Hill to the green and the green edge extended in front. This brings new meaning and danger to a “false front”.
Hole # 8 next year trees will be cleared on the left restoring the “Cape” effect to the hole and giving the player more choices and potentially more trouble. More green has been added in front and in the right front “kick space” area , increasing the green from 14,000 to 19,000 sq. ft.
Hole # 9 removal of trees behind the tee and right, left and behind the green has improved the turf everywhere.
Hole # 10 is in need of drainage and tree removal planned for 2008 on the left and behind the green [east]
Hole # 11 has tree removal on the left [east], especially in the landing area, planned for 2008. Trees behind the green have been removed which returns the 1926 look and makes judging distance for the second shot more difficult. This presents more problems for the long hitter who drives close to the green.
Hole # 12 trees have been cleared both right and left, again returning it to the 1926 look. Here too fairway has been extended toward and now will be all the way to the green [as had been done on # 1].
Hole # 13 Trees are currently being removed on the left and behind the green.
Hole # 14 Trees have been removed on the right at the dogleg as seen in the 1925 construction photographs. Now 6 trees on the right side [east] of the green will be removed. Early morning photographs in 1926 shows no shadows there i.e. no trees then. Their removal will enhance the dogleg right effect.
Hole # 15 has added fairway by tree removal.
Hole # 16 fairway has been widened by tree removal; i.e. increases from 22 to 27 acres
Hole # 17 native grass [fescue] has been cut back right and left to widen the fairway in the landing area and also closer to the tee to shorten the drive needed to reach the fairway. The fairway has been extended around the “Principles Nose” and Scott plans to keep the grass on the Nose cut short.
Hole # 18 here can be seen the most dramatic results of tree removal, attention to specimen trees (such as the Dawn Redwoods on # 10 and # 18), and eliminating penal native grass. Now the player has wide-open areas for both 1st and 2nd shots. There are now multiple options for club selection and direction of play. Scott will keep the grass cut short on the side of the hill in the 2nd shot landing area i.e. there will be two fairways to play to. With new irrigation and extension of the lower fairway to the new tree line, 18 should now being getting praise rather than the complaints of the past.
Scott has brought the course to a new level, one that has brought its rating to the # 1 university course in America. His professional colleagues have recognized his work by naming him Golf Course Superintendent of the Year – 2006. But, he says “there is still a long way to go, with tree removal and improved drainage and then dealing with the improved turf that will result.
Director of Golf
Interviewed on December 21, 2004
Interview (42 mins)
Peter Pulaski grew up in Stratford & at Mill River C.C. where his father and grandfather played. At age 12 he started taking lessons from Al Fuchs and Doug Daigel. He played high school football and golf. He attended Southern Connecticut State college for two years (1979-80) and played golf for coach Tony Martone, a Yale golf club member. He used Yale for practice and remebers it as being “wet in the spring and brown & wild in the fall.” He worked as assistant pro at Oranoke Village and Grassy Hill C.C. At Grassy Hill he was Assistant Pro to Doug Daigle and then became head pro for five years after Daigle left to play on the Senior PGA Tour.
He moved to Yale in 1994 as Assistant Pro to Dave Paterson. He places great emphasis on teaching, which he learned by “watching good teachers,” attending clinics and seminars, etc. He introduced video analysis and club fitting and was named the CSGA Teacher of the Year in 2003. He became Director of Golf in 2000. He then came to appreciate the course, its “playability..the longest 6,600 yards”. He worked with Forrest Temple to bring in a USGA agronomist four times per year, he stopped what he thought to be “overwatering.” Other projects during his time as Director have been the third irrigation system now run by computer, which has improved drainage on several holes, the bunker restoration/renovation, and a large-scale tree removal program. Yale is now ranked # 2 university course in America. His future hopes for the course included a new practice facility and continued alumni support (through the Beinecke Endowment & Patrons Program).
Director of Golf Emeritus and Head Coach, Men’s Golf Team
Interviewed on September 19, 2004
Interview (1 hr 20 mins)
Dave Paterson was raised on golf courses in Scotland. His father was a golf professional who “only knew golf & sheep” (during WWII sheep were grazed on courses for maintenance). After high school he joined the Air Force and then attended art school in Glasgow. He left art school to become an assistant pro at Turnberry. Met Pres. Eisenhower there. Then Bermuda, Riddles Bay head pro & played the US PGA tour in the summer as a member of British PGA (7 tournament maximum). He became interested in the USA by listening to a Saturday radio program, Letters from America by Alistair Cooke. Asst. pro at Brooklawn, then head at CC of Fairfield and applied to Yale after seeing an ad in Bridgeport paper. He was hired in 1975. Phil Nelson headed the search committee formed after talk to sell course thwarted by Beinecke & Miller trustees. Arrived to find Gene Sheehan running shop and Widdy running the business (his private). Took him 1 year to see the books.
Inherited good players, like Teravainen and then started recruiting and has produced many All-Americans and Ivy Championships. Eli club events in 1960-1990 but taken over by U. after taxation in 1985. Dave’s vision..” Pine Valley of the North” with national membership not fulfilled. Attempts to attract Alumni with Beinecke tournament etc. very similar to 1895 notes in Alumni Bulletin re train and trolley to course from NYC and 1925-26 Patrons program and now Beinecke endowment.
Produced 2001 video. Developing a Yale “Golf Hall of Fame.” At one time had 300+ non-resident members only 1/3 of whom ever played the course; then lost them when fees raised too high. “my time as Director was the best time”. He expressed the ideal arrangement to be similar to Princeton and Williams ( ”private club with higher fees”).
1973 PGA Champion and CBS golf analyst
Interviewed on February 19, 2005
[conducted by telephone by John Godley]
Interview (12 mins)
As a professional golfer (who has won 20 tournaments worldwide, including the French and Canadian Open and the US PGA, played on six Ryder Cup teams, was a runner-up in the 1974 British Open, and placed third in the 1973 Masters), Mr. Oosterhuis “had little interest in golf course architecture.” Nevertheless, when he became Director of Golf at Forsgate Golf Club in Jamesburg, NJ from 1987-1990, he became interested in other courses designed by Charles Banks. As a result, he became aware of Banks’ relation to Seth Raynor & C.B. Macdonald and began visiting courses in the east and Bermuda that they both had designed. During that period he visited Yale and later played the course in a Hogan Tour event. He has been concerned that as Ben Crenshaw had told him “the course design was not being protected and maintained with due respect.”
Architect and designer of Prospect Hill Clubhouse and the cart barn
Interviewed on April 7, 2006
Interview (13 mins) with introduction by John Godley
He first designed the golf cart storage shed in the late 1970’s [he is concerned that it has not been well-maintained], and then the Prospect Hill Clubhouse which opened in 1984. It was to be built over the shell of the existing clubhouse with retention of the double fireplace and chimney. He met with Bill Beinecke [the donor] and his family as well as Director of Golf David Paterson and Assistant Athletic Director Dave Moyer to plan the structure. The program included expanding the locker room, pro shop and eating area, as well as adding a women’s locker room, meeting rooms and a porch [later enclosed]. He planned a “modern version of a traditional clubhouse… quiet intimate place… with continuity to the past” [the fireplace is still the central interior feature]. He wanted it “to sit quietly and not draw attention away from the course.” He wanted it to be open and “glassy, to see the beauty of the course” [3rd and 4th holes]. Because of the proximity to the 3rd “long” tee the glass had to be shatterproof.
Former Dean of the Graduate School of Music, Yale University and Chairman of Golf Committee in the 1970’s
Interviewed on September 4, 2005 [conducted by telephone by John Godley]
Interview (22 mins)
Born in Minnesota and began playing golf at age 7. Attended the U. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Played several PGA events as an amateur in the early 1950’s. When he came to Yale as music school dean he was a 7 handicap; his best score at the Yale Golf Course was a 69. Appointed by Kingman Brewster as chairman of a golf committee to upgrade the golf program, which was “in disarray”. “Widdy” Neale, “a nice person and a good secretary of the athletic department and CSGA, was running the course as his own”. No more than 8,000 rounds were played per year. Nelson, was joined on the committee by Dick Tettelback, Burt Resnick, Herb Emanuelson, Richard Broadbent, & Herbert W. Wind. In looking for a Director of Golf they considered many prominent people, several suggested by Philip Nelson’s good friend, Byron Nelson [no relation]. “But, the name of David Paterson kept coming up”. He fit their desire to have a golf person, but one with an intellectual and cultural background. Paterson was a graduate of the art school at the University of Glasgow, as well as a PGA Tour and club professional. Philip Nelson is very proud of the fact that he had a part in finding the person that has been the Director of Golf and as served as the golf coach for more than 30 years.
Nelson has made 10 trips with David to the British Isles to play golf, and he now spends each summer with his wife at St. Andrews. He confirmed the truth of the rumor that there had been talk of selling the golf course, [when it became subject to New Haven city taxation] but that corporation members Erwin Miller and Bill Beinecke had vetoed that idea. He believes the current golf course is the second oldest collegiate course.
BOB NAGEL and BOB TETTLEBACK
BOB NAGEL and BOB TETTLEBACK
Longtime members of the Yale Golf Club and of the Eli Club
Interviewed on September 7, 2004
Interview (46 mins)
Bob Nagel (Yale class of 1938) first learned golf as a caddy in Walpole, MA from 1929 to 1933. He first played the Yale course as a guest of hockey coach Murray Murdock in 1952, and he has been an official member since 1954. According to Bob, no college team has won more national championships in any sport than Yale in golf (21). He has also seen Grantland Rice, Gene Tunney, Red Rolf and Greasy Neale all play at Yale.
Bob Tettleback lived in Westville, and with his brother Dick as a child of 10-12 in 1937, he snuck onto the course and played until they were thrown off by Mr. Perkins. He later worked as caddy for 50 cents a “loop,” and thus knows that the caddy shack was located where one can now find the cart barn. He joined the club in 1950, thanks to his brother and Widdy Neale, and enjoyed a club within the club (i.e. Eli Club) started by Abe Weissman and run for most of 1940-90 by his brother Dick for tournaments and club championships. Once Dick even played the course with Joe Dimaggio. He describes the greatest change to the course to be that the cliff across the seventeenth pond now is now a dirt slope instead of a rock cliff.
WILLIAM [BILL] NEALE
WILLIAM [BILL] NEALE
Grandson of “Widdy” Neale
Interviewed March 23, 2006
Interview: part one | part two
His first memory of his grandfather is from when he was age 10-12. On a summer evening, after his father came home from work, he would go with his father and mother to meet “Grandpa” to play 4 or 5 holes at Yale. He learned to play golf that way, but more importantly he learned the rules and etiquette. He heard about players calling up “Widdy” on a Monday to get a ruling on an incident that occurred at a weekend match or tournament. After “Widdy” died he bought his home [on Mackenzie Lane in Westville]. He often ran from there through the golf course and was sometimes upset to see a player not using proper etiquette.
Other family golf memories relate to “Widdy”s brother “Greasy” Neale. Bill knew him after he retired as the Philadelphia Eagles football coach and was living on Park Ave. in NYC. Two or three times a year “Greasy” would come to play golf with “Widdy” and Bill’s father. He was allowed to tag along. “Greasy” didn’t show him much good golf, but from him he learned his first swear words, usually after “Greasy” hit his drive in the water on the 4th hole. In his scrapbook there is a scorecard showing “Widdy” score 70 and “Greasy” 85. He believes that “Widdy” lost track of the times he shot his age. He was still playing 9 holes in the year he died of a brain tumor at age 85, after a heart bypass operation at age 81. In his last year he had retired from the CSGA and attended a dinner in his honor at the New Haven Country Club, with Dick Tettleback as the master of ceremonies. He died in December and Reverend Bill Lee celebrated a Memorial in January along with a blizzard.
Bill called attention to a photograph in his scrapbook of “Greasy” and “Widdy” on the first tee at Yale with the Mara brothers [owners of the NY Giants football team]. He related the story of President Dwight Eisenhower’s secretary calling the Yale course to schedule a tee time [he would bring his own golf cart] and being told by “Widdy” that Yale didn’t allow carts. On another occasion Bill Beinecke asked to play a round with “Widdy”. During the round he asked “Widdy” what improvement he would like to make in the course. He was told that an in-ground watering system was needed to replace the gravity feed above ground system and that it would cost an amount that “Widdy” guessed at. After the round Bill invited “Widdy” to have lunch in the clubhouse. His invitation was declined. “Widdy” said that he would be going home to have lunch with his wife, as he did every day. Several days later an envelope arrived at the athletic department containing stock certificates valued at the estimated watering system plus 20%. Being turned down for lunch didn’t bother Bill Beinecke. Of course he and his family later also gave the money to rebuild the clubhouse [where you now can eat lunch in “Widdy’s”], as well as the cart barn and cart paths.
“Widdy” graduated from Yale in 1925 and his son [Bill’s father] in 1950. If Bill had gone to Yale he would have graduated in 1975. But, he was “independent” and went to New England College and then spent 10 years overseas, first in the Peace Corp in Tunisia and then he worked for Care in Haiti. He returned to go to graduate school at the Yale School of Management. He didn’t tell his parents or grandfather of his plans until after he was admitted to the SOM. “Widdy” then told him that he had attended the opening of the school as Bill Beinecke’s guest. “Widdy” was born in 1900 and his first great grandchild in 2000.
MIKE "MOW" MORAN
Head Greenskeeper, Yale Golf Course
Interviewed on September 7, 2004
Interview (51 mins)
Mike Moran started mowing greens at age 12, thus earning the nickname “mow.” In 1975 he graduated from U. Mass. at Stockbridge with a degree in Turf Management. He worked both East and West Coast courses before coming to Yale as Master Gardener more than 20 years ago under Harry Meusel, when David Paterson was the Director of Golf. He was told of changes to the second green (which had been like the eighth), the sixteenth green, and the third green (which had been a “double punchbowl”). Mike’s favorite holes are the eighth and thirteenth. By his estimation, the best golfers to play Yale include John Daly, Tom Lehman and Jeff Maggert in the Hogan Tour, as well as Widner, USGA Junior Amateur winner and now a golf coach. His favorite stories include Sam Snead being escorted from the course by Harry after he used a wedge on the ninth green, and Sammy Davis Jr. being asked to leave because he had had “too much grape.”
Mow talks about Harry Meusel’s major beautification program that inlcuded the planting of laurel, rhododendron, and daffodils, as well as evergreens, which were planted “to protect cart paths from stray balls.” The evergreens have now been removed, but one can still find the weeping black pines between the seventh and eighth fairways. The Japanese garden by the thirteenth fairway was also developed by Harry. Among his experiences on the course, Mike helped to scatter Al Wilson’s ashes behind the third green. And for those who are interested, Mike has files, including maps of all greens, that he is willing to share.