Despite a brutal late-spring dealt from Mother Nature, Princeton Golf Course superintendent Jerry Webb has the layout looking and playing fantastically on his first full season.
Webb has been a certified golf superintendent the past 33 years after earning his B.S. and Master degrees in agronomy from Iowa State University. He needed to call on all his learning when the snows kept coming this year.
“In 2012, courses were opening up around March 20. This year, we almost reached the May 1st date– opening on April 20. So we were a month behind at the start,” said Webb during an interview last Thursday at the PGC. “Two challenges here that are different then any other course I’ve been at are the river and the mosquitoes. Everything else I went to school for, but the largest complaints we get are the mosquitoes and the river flooding, which you can’t control much. I’ve never been at a course where you have to spray every day.”
A major project to the look of the Princeton course came on the 18th fairway. A big maple was trimmed up, and another large maple was taken out to open up the approach.
“It think it’s a better finishing hole now,” said Webb, who is one of just 35 certified superintendents in the state.
In the back corner of the course on Hole 15, an island of brush was also cleared with brush cutters which gave golfers a better view of the landing area. As the season got rolling finally, Webb’s grounds crew team had to deal with storm clean up, including the June 21 blast which spewed branches and leaves across the course. Seven full trees and 23 partial trees were lost in that deluge right before the weekend.
“Seth Fehrmann is my assistant superintendent who came up here from Rum River GC in Ramsey. I brought some guys with me from Riverwood. We’ve got a good group of guys on staff– a small group but a good group,” he said. “I think the course is in really good shape.”
Growing up in the golf world
Jerry was brought into the golf world by his father, Jack Webb in Fargo where Jack was the golf pro at Edgewood Golf Course and Fargo Country Club. During that span, Jack was the 1965 North Dakota State Open Champion. Jerry’s brother is also a golf professional at present.
“I played a lot growing up and worked for my dad, so I’ve been around golf courses all my life,” recalled Webb. “My dad then got a job at Wakonda Country Club in Des Moines, and so my high school days were spent in Iowa. Then I went to Iowa State and played on the collegiate golf team and on the club hockey team.”
After getting his bachelor’s degree, Webb played a year of International Hockey Association action in the Philadelphia Flyers system on their Toledo, Ohio farm squad. He decided in 1980 to grab his first golf course superintendent job at Oneota in Decorah, Iowa. Three years later, he got back to Ames Golf & Country Club, working as a superintendent while also knocking down his Masters in agronomy.
Nine years later, he was the super at Prestwick Golf Course in Woodbury for nine more seasons. In 2000, Webb was tapped to help develop what is now called Bulrush Golf Course in Rush City where he spent a couple of years. He moved the family to West Rush Lake in Chisago County for that new job, and that is where he still resides.
In 2004, Riverwood National was being built west of Otsego, and Webb filled the superintendent’s job to oversee the construction of the links course. There is where he met present Princeton club pro Bill Laimer. The two remained friends over the years, and Laimer asked if Webb could take on a part-time role to help out at Princeton last summer.
“Since Riverwood was going through some financial changes, it looked like a good opportunity to come to Princeton full time where I started in March,” said Webb.
“I’m still playing golf, but not as much as I used to,” he added. “I’m still playing hockey, too, about three times a week down at the Blaine Super Rink. So that’s another passion I’ve had all my life.”
Appreciation of the Princeton course and clientele
While the full course is under his eye, there are parts to Princeton which are his favorites.
“I like the back-to-back par 5s– Nos. 2 and 3. It feels like a more fun way to start out a round where you get those par 5s early in the round, then you get the par 3s later,” he described. “As far as holes go, I like the par 3 16th hole. It’s a pretty hole with a large green– probably the prettiest hole out here.”
The scenery isn’t the only thing that makes it fun for Webb to come to work.
“Bill (Laimer) and I have been friends for years, and he was instrumental in getting me over here. But there’s a lot of nice people up here. This course has a really good feeling to it,” he finished.
2013 golf tourneys remaining at Princeton Golf Course
Friday, July 19: PGC Couples Event
Friday, July 26: Bromberg/Brooks Memorial Scholarship Scramble– 11 a.m. shotgun start. $60/golfer (inc. cart, dinner, prizes). Call pro shop to register (389-5109).
Saturday, Aug. 3: Princeton Fire Department Scramble– 11 a.m. shotgun start. $75/golfer (inc. cart, dinner, prizes). Registration forms at pro shop.
Friday, Aug. 9: Shark Bite Open
Wednesday, Aug. 14: PGC Junior League Championship
Saturday, Aug. 17: PGC Invitational
Saturday-Sunday, Aug. 24-25: PGC Club Championships
Friday, Sept. 13: Elim Care Golf Outing