U.S. Amateur golf championship: Dave Wienecke, golf course master groomer

Long before any Starbucks store opens, Dave Wienecke is already opening the garages and firing up the mowers at Chambers Bay Golf Links.

His day starts at 4 a.m. The course’s only superintendent – and first Chambers Bay employee Pierce County hired back in 2006 – arrives an hour before his morning crew shows up.

The 250 acres of land provide stunning scenery. It is Wienecke’s responsibility to make sure the golf side of the property is well kept.

For the past 18 months, no person has had a bigger task to get Chambers Bay ready for next week’s U.S. Amateur than Wienecke, who has not only added definition between fairways and dunes – green versus brown – that links-style layouts require, but he’s made the fine-fescue greens smooth and fast.

“Us superintendents, we’re hands-on, applied scientists, learning what we can … from nature,” Wienecke said. “There aren’t a lot of people I can call for advice or help. We have to learn by the seat of our pants.”

Wienecke has been in golf-course preparation for three decades. Most of his work came on Oregon venues, but earlier this decade, he was a United States Golf Association employee, serving as the Southwest Division’s agronomist.

Before being hired to oversee a 49-man crew at Chambers Bay, Wienecke was the director of golf at Braemar Country Club in Tarzana, Calif.

Wienecke turns 58 on Aug. 29 – the final day of the U.S. Amateur.

“I’ll be sitting back with nothing to do,” he joked.

Todd Milles, staff writer