Superintendent Has Sahalee Ready for Senior Open

The first call U.S. Senior Open competitors should make when they arrive in town is to Richard Taylor, CGCS, veteran golf course superintendent at Sahalee Country Club, just outside Seattle in Sammamish, Wash.

With 26 years of experience at Sahlaee, including the last 11 as superintendent, nobody knows the course like Taylor. "The weather has been cooperative and we have the golf course right where we want it," said Taylor, a 22-year member of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA). "Other than growing the rough up, we really haven't made very many changes inside the ropes for this tournament."

Taylor has also prepped the golf course for the 1998 PGA Championship and the 2002 World Golf Championship-NEC Invitational. He has a Bachelor's degree in landscape architecture from Washington State University and is one of only 1,700 active superintendents to earn the professional designation as a GCSAA Certified Golf Course Superintendent.

"It has been a real pleasure working with Rich Taylor over the last few years as we both prepare for the U.S. Senior Open at Sahalee," said Jeff Hall, USGA managing director of rules and competition. "Rich brings a wealth of experience to the table. Having prepared Sahalee at a high level on a daily basis for years, coupled with his efforts in presenting a demanding test for the 1998 PGA Championship and the 2002 WGC-NEC Invitational, I know Rich and his very professional team will deliver the type of test that will demand excellence from the players in this year's U.S. Senior Open."

Sahalee, which means "high heavenly ground" in the language of the Chinook, will use the North and South nines of the 27-hole facility for a par-70, 6,857/6,866-yard championship course. The Poa annua greens are smooth and rolling 12 feet on the Stimpmeter. The perennial ryegrass/Poa annua fairways are an average of 26 yards wide. Taylor has implemented the USGA-preferred graduated cut to the perennial ryegrass/Poa annua rough to increase the penalty the further shots land off the fairway. The first cut is 6 feet wide at 1 inches high, the second cut is 8 feet wide at 2 inches tall, and the rough is 3 - 4 inches high from there.

In a local golf column by Bart Potter in the June 1 Olympian, Taylor explains how nearly every aspect of his work at Sahalee revolves around the massive Western Red Cedar, Douglas fir and Western Hemlock trees that give the golf course its character, while also competing with the turfgrass for sunlight, air movement, moisture and nutrients.

Taylor, his assistant superintendents Scott Pugsley (four-year GCSAA member) and Scott Larson, and their staff of 28 will be assisted tournament week by a group of 20 volunteers consisting of nearby superintendents, assistant superintendents, retired superintendents and vendors.

Taylor welcomes 156 players for the USGA championship comprised of 73 exempt players and 85 players advancing from section qualifying, including fellow GCSAA Class A member Tommy Robinson, superintendent at Ravinia Green Country Club in Riverwoods, Ill., who qualified for his second U.S. Senior Open by winning a sudden-death playoff for third place and the final spot in a sectional qualifier at Inverness (Ill.) Golf Club on June 28.

Scott Hollister, editor of GCSAA's official publication, Golf Course Management, will be posting updates about Taylor and Robinson during tournament week on GCM's blog, From the Desk of GCM (

The above story is courtesy of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America. For more details, visit