Mountain Blog

Dean and Farah still taking shots at each other seven years later
Brian Lawson - Wednesday, August 12, 2015

“That’s excuse number 21 if you’re keeping count.”

Crystal Mountain Golf Course Superintendent, Jason Farah smiles with a wink and a nod as he takes another jab at his boss, Director of Golf, Brad Dean. The two were reminiscing about a couple of rounds played about this time seven years ago. The course was ‘The Monster’ at Oakland Hills Country Club. The rounds were during the 2008 PGA Championship.

Farah, formerly one of the superintendents at Oakland Hills, had volunteered to help the grounds crew and Dean was playing in his first and only major. In fact, Brad’s was the first name called on the first hole to begin play. “It was the experience of a lifetime,” he laughs, “but once was enough.” 

To the credit of Farah and his colleagues - not to mention PGA Chief Championship Officer, Kerry Haigh - the set-up on the South Course that week was without question one of the toughest in the modern era of the fourth major championship. “The rough was the course’s only defense,” Jason explained. And it lived up to its name. Rough. Six inches deep or more. Only three players finished under-par for the tournament with Padraig Harrington taking the title at minus-3. 

“You could hardly find the ball and you had to full-swing a 60-degree wedge to get it out.” As Dean recounts the difficulty Farah jokingly rolls his eyes and then honestly confesses, “It was really tough.” Brad missed the cut but he was in good company with major champions like Fred Couples, Adam Scott and Zach Johnson, who you might remember had a little success over at St. Andrews a few weeks back.

Brad’s youngest boy was actually born the week leading up to the tournament. He was also a bit of a hometown favorite with plenty of attention from the media and a gallery of family and friends following him around the course. He describes the week as a bit of a blur but vividly remembers the eighth hole of the second round. 

“I hit a shot from a greenside bunker 15 feet past the hole and spun it back to within ten feet. Got a great response from the crowd.” And of course, it should go without saying that he dropped the ten-footer to save par - which was as good  as a birdie that week. 

These two didn’t know each other back then. One was excited to have the chance to work alongside old friends and challenge the best players in the world. The other living out a dream to compete against and play alongside those players on one of golf’s biggest stages. Nowadays, you can find the two of them together on the Mountain Ridge course where Brad is always gracious with a compliment.

“He played great and shot a 76 when we were out the other day,” and then grins ear-to-ear unable to keep a straight face, “I only beat him by 10 strokes.”

Maybe now they’re even.  

Get Back into the Swing of Things
Abbey Neerken - Friday, April 10, 2015

Crystal Mountain Driving Range - April 10, 2015

It’s time to dust off those clubs and get to the golf course, or at least the range! After all, the range has been open since Wednesday with the Betsie Valley to open Saturday (April 11) and the Mountain Ridge likely to follow in the next week or so. The Masters is on television and the forecast is calling for temps in the 60s and sun this weekend. If you don’t feel it already, you’ll be getting that “itch” to get on the course. Tee off the season right by doing these five things before your first round:

1. Ease into it 

Use it or lose it, remember that? When you stop doing a sport for a while, like all winter, you lose muscle memory. Don’t worry; it happens to everybody so ease back into it by getting the feel of your swing again. Start by swinging without a club, then get to the range. “Start with high lofting clubs and work your way to low lofting clubs,” says, Ed Laprade, director of golf instruction at Crystal Mountain.  Start small by chipping or putting and work your way up to the driver. You don’t want to kick off the season by shanking one on the first tee!

2. For the sake of your back, Please Stretch

Throwing your back out is not going to help your game. You don’t have to spend an hour at yoga before hitting the course or range, but you’ll want to warm up those muscles you haven’t used in a while. “Even beginning a simple workout regime to get those muscles working again can make a world of difference,” says Crystal Mountain Director of Golf, Brad Dean. His workout routine recently changed for golf season, and although he is sore now, Brad agrees that it is better than feeling sore during the peak of the golf season.

3. Get Real

Remember, it’s been an ice box for nearly five months so make sure your expectations of the course, the game, and especially yourself are realistic. “You cannot expect to play a mid-season game right out of the blocks,” says Laprade.  Don’t get frustrated just be happy, you’re playing golf again! 

4. Seek Help from a Professional

Bragging rights will be on the line soon enough, so get a few strokes up on your buddies by taking a lesson. Crystal Mountain Golf School has made Golf Magazine’s Top 25 in America twice. Crystal’s instructors have worked with every type of player from those who’ve played in The Masters and US Open to countless who have never even picked up a club. A pro can identify and fix that hitch in your swing or short-game. And if it’s you’re club’s fault (even though a good carpenter never blames the tools), they can help get you a custom fit. 

5. Spring Cleaning

Once you’ve exhumed your clubs from the basement or garage (try not to inhale too much dust), first make sure they’re all accounted for and get last year’s dirt and grass out of every groove and give them a nice shine. Go out get the necessities: a couple dozen balls, tees, new towel and while you’re at it, a new pair of shoes – you’ve earned it.

Congratulations! You are mentally and physically ready for five-and-a-half glorious months on the fairways and greens. See you on the first tee!

Crystal Mountain Driving Range - April 10, 2015

A Cut Above: How Crystal's greens are rolling smoother than ever
Brian Lawson - Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Rolling greens on Mountain Ridge with Crystal Mountain's new Tru-Turf Roller

"I want them to look like billiard tables and roll that way too."

Jason Farah knows that a golf course is first judged by its greens. So that's precisely where he started this spring when he took over as Crystal Mountain's Golf Course Superintendent. He brings with him almost 25 years of experience that includes work as an assistant superintendent (North Course) helping to prepare for the 1996 U.S. Open at Oakland Hills Country Club.

"Maintaining a high-end golf course is all about doing the same thing over and over again," says Farah. "It can be a little monotonous but the crews understand it, embrace it and response has been great this summer."

Golf Course Superintendent Jason Farah (left) works with Crystal Golf employee John McElduff

"The attitude has changed right along with the course conditions," says John McElduff, pictured above operating the resort's new Tru-Turf Greens Roller, the same used at PGA Tour stops.

Every morning at 6am crews take to the Mountain Ridge and Betsie Valley courses to manicure the greens. First they mow. Next they clear the clippings. They roll them weekly and this consistent, intricate approach to each of Crystal's 36 championship holes has created the consistency on the greens.

"The greens are rolling really well so if you put a good putt on it, it's going to go in." Those were the words of Michigan PGA Women's Open Champion, Becca Huffer after shooting a second round 64 on the Mountain Ridge. It would have been the course record had Kimberly Dingh (runner-up and top amateur) not already shattered that score with a 10-under par the day before.

The staff in the pro shop have heard the accolades as well, from players of every level. Of course, a quick look around and it's not hard to notice the consistent quality has spread into the fairways, rough and tee boxes. The new wooden flagsticks, tee markers and signs certainly provide a nice accent to the canvas Farah and his crew seek to perfect with each new day.

"I love what I do and I feel like the crews out there working on the courses share that enthusiasm and take a tremendous amount of pride in their work."

And it's reflected in each stroke of the putter and smooth journey to the cup.

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