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Jeff Markow
Jeff Markow

Jeff Markow, Cypress Point

Posted on June 18, 2014 at 10:45 AM

Cypress Point, perched on the tip of the Monterey Peninsula in one of the most beautiful corners of Northern California would be everyone’s dream club.

For Superintendent, Jeff Markow, the magic is still there after 21 years. “It’s been a wonderful experience and the time has flown by.”

Jeff was born in Wisconsin and raised in Minnesota but he moved to California in 1985, which was quite a change in climate from the cold Minnesota winter.

“After working for 8 years in the desert, at the Nicklaus Private Course at PGA West and The Vintage Club in Indian Wells, we got accustomed to being in the west but still miss the change in seasons.”

Jeff sounds a relaxed and thoughtful man, and his management style seems steeped in good common sense and wisdom.

“Go slowly, there’s no need for change just for the sake of it; try something first and see if it works before you dive in to do a major project.”

His considered style has clearly worked for Jeff. The club doesn’t change much and doesn’t want to.

“We have completed a bunker restoration and we’ve been building quite a few seawalls along the coast to protect areas of the course and slow down the rate of erosion. These were fairly substantial projects; basically tiebacks are drilled into the hillside and steel frames filled with concrete. These armoured areas are then sculpted and finished to look like the natural rock and once the lichen and plant life grows back, they blend in very well.”

In the world of golf there are few courses as revered as Cypress Point. The golf course was created by the renowned designer, Alistair Mackenzie and opened in 1928. Extraordinary and timeless this masterpiece of design is consistently rated as one of the top 3 golf courses ever created by all major publications.

Cypress Point offers natural beauty that is quite unmatched. The clandestine approach to Mackenzie's achievement is the reality that he did not over-power the natural terrain, allowing the course to take shape organically.

Jeff agrees, “This is the greatest meeting of land and sea in the US. We have a very rugged coastline and deep blue water. The course moves from wooded parkland style, into sandy dunes and then finishes along the coast- very scenic, just a wonderful piece of property.”

The overall look of club, and the buildings built in the 1930’s have not changed much over the years.

“We continue to be very mindful of not changing the natural feel of the course, so part of the bunker restoration programme completed ten years ago ensured that they were restored to their original look using old photographs.”

 

“We have two seasons here, Jeff jokes, “fog and less fog”.

“We don’t have extreme temperature swings, but like much of the Northern California coast we have a lot of summer fog for extended periods which means it can be overcast and damp all day and that can be a challenge to manage turfgrass. Actually Spring and Fall are usually very nice, November to March is our winter rainy season so we’d expect to get around 18” of rain per year, but for the last few years we have had a lot less. Last year we had just over 4” so unfortunately it continues to be very dry.

Water is a big concern for California. We are part of a reclaimed water system that has been online for almost 20 years and is our sole supply of water. All the courses in Pebble Beach share this system, which includes a reservoir for storage. In dry years, water use can outpace supply and we can quickly reduce our storage levels which has to be monitored through the season so we don’t run too low on water.”

 

The Maintenance Workshop

“We are not a large acreage club so we have a staff of 20 plus seasonal extras. We are fortunate to be on a regular equipment replacement programme and have a bit of everything, Toro, Jacobsen, John Deere and Bernhard grinders.

We have had Bernhard grinders for a long time and we got them primarily for quality of cut. They are in use quite a bit as we do a lot of top dressing – we do mow more sand than we’d like. I suppose you could say our grinders are in use all the time because we have a 12-month season here and only close on Christmas day.

We don’t mow greens every day but we certainly maintain the course all year round.”

Sal Seeno, Equipment Manager at Cypress Point for 36 years said, “We replaced our old Bernhard machines a few years back. We do not backlap. We used to do that before we got our grinders so we have saved a lot of time and the cut quality is much better.

I can do a greens mower in about 25 minutes from start to finish and my bedknives last much longer. Can you believe I managed to make my Toro fairway bedknife last for over 1800 hours? I’ve still got the blade to prove it!

The members here rightly have high expectations and they notice the quality of cut. That makes our job very satisfying.”

Jeff, who lives in the Carmel Valley with his wife Heidi where it is a little warmer and sunnier said, “We are not a big club so it is more like a family here. The membership has been wonderful to work for and we appreciate their support. It is such a special place - we are very fortunate to have the opportunity to walk these grounds. My staff are the best and they are really the ones who are responsible for our success!”