Rounds knows his turf

Chris Steele
Greg Rounds is the grounds and greens superintendent at Sunset Ridge 
Country Club. This year, he set the course up to host the 116th Western Amateur.

Greg Rounds got his start at 16-years old with a weed eater in his hands.

That’s when Rounds began his career working at Ford Hills Country Club in Geneseo.

This year, Rounds was in charge of preparing Sunset Ridge Country Club for the 116th Western Amateur.

The grounds and greens superintendent at Sunset Ridge Country Club, in Northfield, since 2004, Rounds said plans have been in motion for more than a year and a half to prepare the course for the third oldest amateur tournament in the world behind the U.S. Open and the Open Championship (British Open).

“When you are inviting the worlds best amateurs, the level of play these young kids bring is far superior to the level of play we see every day,” Rounds said. “These guys are the next future stars. Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Phil Mickelson, they have all won or played in the Western AM.

“We needed to make some tweaks in yardage and playability to make it more challenging for that higher level of player.”

Those tweaks demanded additional work and challenges for Rounds and his 25 person staff.

“Most of what we do is completed before most people are turning over on their pillow,” Rounds said. “We are up at 4 a.m. and sometimes out the door at 5 a.m. and sometimes earlier. Things are always taken care of out of sight.”

The daily demands of keeping the course pristine is something Rounds learned early.

Back at his first job at Ford Hills Country Club, Rounds learned a valuable lesson about being a superintendent from Dennis Peck.

“A line that Denny said to me my first year was, ‘Growing grass is the easiest part of the job,’” Rounds said. “It’s something that I continue to pass onto interns and assistant that work for me. This business is the balance of art and science.”

After earning a degree in horticulture from the University of Illinois in 1998, Rounds has worked around the Chicago area including an internship at Medinah Country Club which has hosted the U.S. Open, the Ryder Cup and PGA Championship.

Rounds said that Peck has produced a number of people into a small industry.

Rounds’ brother in law Jim Wyffels works at Spirit Hollow Golf Course, Chris Kzelland works at Ridge Country Club in Chicago and David Ahlstrand works as a golf superintendent near Newport Beach, in California.

“We all have kind of graduated from working under Dennis Peck,” Rounds said. “That’s a pretty good feather in his cap. That’s a pretty successful graduation rate that we started under him and made it to this level.”