Award-winning Course Superintendent
It was not until 2003 that Peter Pulaski was able to find the right person to execute the plan and reach the goals that Tom Beckett had set in 1994. Scott Ramsay already had twenty years of experience as a superintendent when he arrived at Yale in the fall of 2003. He left the Orchards Golf Club in South Hadley Massachusetts, after preparing it for the 2004 USGA Woman’s Open Championship. Ramsay’s father was in the landscaping business and his father-in-law has been the superintendent at the same golf course for more than forty years. Ramsay graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a degree in golf course management. He then worked as a superintendent at courses in Westchester County, Rhode Island, and Connecticut and served as a regional manager for the Arnold Palmer Management Company.
From his first visit in 1986 Ramsay 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 became superintendent, however, the situation was not so promising. The union staff had just gone on strike, so Ramsay used coaches, administrators, and golf club members to maintain the course for several weeks. Since then he has improved union-management relations. After only one year, he had a staff that was triple the size of the one when he arrived. Ramsay’s staff consists of permanent full-time, full-time seasonal, and part-time seasonal (dining hall staff and students) employees, with sixteen to twenty employed at the peak. With this staff and new equipment, the greens can be cut daily and the fairways groomed every two to three days before play begins. From the beginning Ramsay’s goal was to improve labor-management relations on the same scale as there were course improvements.
The bunker renovation and restoration project has been completed. Many fairway drainage problems have been corrected and more is planned. Approximately 2,500 trees have been removed around tees, greens, and along fairways, and the program is essentially completed. Ramsay is now pruning and managing “specimen trees” such as the Dawn Redwoods on the sixth, tenth, and eighteenth holes. These trees thrive in the swampy areas found there and were planted by the forestry school many years ago. The tree program has allowed the edges of many greens to be reclaimed resulting in several “false fronts.” Scott 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.”
Nearly every month Ramsay discovers something that had been hidden and adds to Yale’s unique character. During his tenure, the course has moved up in rankings from unranked, to sixtieth, and now to forty-fifth of the Top One Hundred classic courses and is acknowledged as the number one university course in America. Ramsay’s professional colleagues recognized his work by naming him National Golf Course Superintendent of the Year in 2006. However, he still insists there are many ways to improve the course. When we proposed that 2007 would be a good time to have a professional take photographs of the course, he and Pulaski brushed the idea aside, responding, “That’s a good idea for 2010!