A kick in the grass:

Eagle Point Golf Club superintendent Dave Stephens used to work at Portland Golf Club and remembers preparing the course for the 1982 U.S. Senior Open.

"We had it stimped at barely 10," he says, referring to the speed of the greens, "and everybody was going crazy. They were talking about how impossible that was and how fast that was and how no one could handle it. Now, that's what our greens are all the time in the summer, and nobody thinks it's fast."

For the record, Miller Barber won that tournament, the only player below par with a 2-under 282.

That anecdote says a couple of things about Stephens, who's been at Eagle Point since it opened in 1997: One, he has the know-how to set up a championship course; two, he's not afraid to use it.

That's why some golfers have asked for mercy prior the Oregon Golf Association Mid-Amateur Championships Saturday and Sunday at Eagle Point.

"We're really going after this tournament much the same way any golf course would go after a PGA event," says Stephens. "We've been preparing for the last couple months and intensely for the last two or three weeks."

Aggressive fertilizing in that time has the grass as lean, green and quick as possible. A half-dozen members of his crew have hand watered up to 10 hours a day the last two weeks, trying to get every spot as healthy as possible. They began raising the rough a couple weeks ago and haven't cut it at all this week.

On Tuesday, his crew began double-cutting the greens. During the tournament, it'll mow in the evenings, then roll them and double-cut them in the morning.

The rough will be 3 to 4 inches tall and the greens will run about 11.5 on the Stimpmeter.

Also, every hole will be played from the back tees — a first for a tournament here — extending the course to 7,096 yards.

"Equipment has changed so much in the last five years," says Stephens, who has been in the business for 27 years. "Eagle Point is long, but it's not that long."

The OGA sets the pin placements, and "they try to be really fair," says Stephens, who walked the course and discussed such matters with that bunch.

But TV commercials depict superintendents as evil-doers, and this is a chance for Stephens and his crew to get into character.

"We're trying to dial it in to make it the biggest challenge we can," he says. "The crew has done a fantastic job and worked hard. We're looking forward to it being put to the test."

— Tim Trower

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