The two 18-hole courses at LaFortune Park remain in excellent shape throughout the year, providing a joyful and affordable golf experience. The Championship course offers a variety of challenges for all Tulsa golf players. It features numerous water hazards, sand bunkers, and excellent bent grass greens. Recent renovations by Tulsa’s own Randy Heckenkemper have kept the championship course the favorite of all Tulsa County golfers.
LaFortune Park Golf Course reopened in October of 2018 and features an all-new layout, new stadium lighting throughout the course, and a cart path. The lights are on in season (April-October) and offer a unique way to enjoy the game of golf after dark.
1. How did you get your start in the golf industry? Where did you go to school for turfgrass management?
My dad was a golf course superintendent for over 35 years. The earliest I can remember was about two or three years old of running around the golf course when dad was watering. I was 14 when he put me to work and I’m starting my 43rd year of working in golf.
I attended Horry-Georgetown Technical College in Conway, SC for turfgrass management.
2. Tell us about your course and a little of it’s history.
LaFortune Park GC is a 36 hole facility which is owned and by Tulsa County. The first 18 holes was opened in the early 60’s then followed up with the construction of an 18 hole Par 3 course. The Par 3 is lighted and you can play under the lights from April through October. The Championship course was renovated in 2004 and the Par 3 was renovated in 2018. The Championship course has L-93 bent grass greens and the Par 3 has TifEagle Ultra dwarf greens. Randy Heckenkemper was the architect.
3. Describe the Most difficult hole? The unique one? Your favorite?
I’d say our most difficult hole is 16. You need to hit a mid to long iron off the tee to avoid hitting your ball into the pond. The two tiered green is well elevated above the fairway and is guarded by a bunker left of the green. If you hit short of the green, there is the the potential of the ball rolling back towards the pond. My favorite hole is #5 on the Champ course. The hole is tree lined with a pond on the left side of the fairway and two greenside bunkers.
4. Who was your earliest mentor in the industry and how did he inspire you?
I’ve had quite a number of mentors, but consider my dad my greatest mentor. He never pushed me to go into turfgrass management but always supported me with my decision. Dad taught me how to work within your budgets and to provide exceptional playing conditions. He never had the mega budgets but you’d never know when you played one of his courses.
5. Plans for Renovations?
As I mentioned before the Champ course was renovated back in 2004. We have been discussing the possibility of renovating the bunkers on the Champ. The irrigation system could also be updated. The greens are valve in head while the tees, fairways and rough are a block system. It’s time to get away from the block system!
6. Favorite piece of equipment? Why?
I have a few pieces I like but I’d say its my Fieldscout moisture meter. With the meters we can really dial in our watering and irrigation practices. It helps us from over watering which can cause other issues.
7. What is your favorite part of the job, least favorite?
My favorite part of the job is being outside and enjoying the weather, fresh air and the sunrises. We probably have the best office views. Least favorite part is dealing with unappreciative customers. There is a total lack of etiquette when it comes to course care. Repairing ball marks, either replacing divots on tees and fairways or filling with sand/seed and cart traffic wear and tear.
8. Next tournament scheduled.
We have multiple local tournaments but nothing too big. Last summer during PGA Championship week we hosted a big event on our Par 3 course. Barstool Sports hosted a scramble under the lights. It was really cool.
9. Can you tell us a little about your family, how you met your wife, kids’ names? What do you like to do away from work? If you have time to yourself what do you like to do?
My wife and I have been married 20 years and our son Joseph is a freshman in high school. Away from work I like working in the yard, doing projects in the house, biking and some travelling. Spending time with family is very important to me.