We had a chance to sit down and chat awhile with Missouri’s Dan Davis, general manager at Payne Stewart Golf Club.
TMGP: Glad to talk with you—and glad to be here. Tell me about yourself.
Dan Davis: Well, I grew up in Raymore, MO. Called the old Longview (now Fred Arbanas) home. Went to New Mexico St. to their PGM program. Got out and worked at a place in Iowa, then Nevada, MO, then a great little course in Seneca, KS called Spring Creek. Came to Branson in 2008 to be head pro at Thousand Hills—great little course. Troon took over Payne Stewart in April,2011 and that’s when I came over. Last year got promoted to GM.
TMGP: So I take you and your family like it here?
DD: Yes, very much so. The kids are all over at the school area not far from #15 on our golf course—one in high school, one in middle, and one in elementary. We have a kayak and a canoe and sometimes when I get a day away from the course we take the whole crew out on the water to fish and just fool around.
TMGP: Tell us about the course?
DD: Before my time, but I’ll tell you what I know. Designed by Chuck Smith, a landscape architect by training, with an assist and consulting from Payne’s friend Bobby Clampett. It was a bit unique to have the Superintendent, Steve Johnson, already hired and here on staff when they began work. That’s pretty unusual, but good in that Steve got to see from the beginning what some of the problems and challenges would be in maintaining the course once it got built.
Lots of rock was blasted and dirt moved to get to where we are now—that’s for sure. I read somewhere that this area has only about a 1% topsoil covering. Makes it almost a desert terrain before it gets altered… Anyway, they brought in A LOT of topsoil and I think ended up with a wonderful design in terms of keeping the elevation changes and rock outcroppings while also creating some wonderfully natural looking playing areas. Steve will tell you that several areas provide a challenge in terms of soil quality and air movement. But because he has been here from the beginning he knows where the problem areas are and knows where to watch for trouble.
Bobby made several “tweaks” to the rough layout and thus improved the final product AND, in a couple of cases, gave a hole more of a “Payne” touch that Bobby would know from having played a lot of golf with Payne. We have a “story” on each tee box about or involving Payne. Bobby (and other friends) had a lot to do with those.
TMGP: What will I find here with Troon Golf and also the lodging options? I know a huge percentage of your play comes from about a three/four-hour radius.
DD: That’s right. Between over 100,000 in Springfield right up the road and the large cities of STL, Oklahoma City, and KC, we get a lot of our play from about that radius of here. We have three distinct lodging options right here at the course. The Hampton Inn , the condos right nearby, and the nearest option is the villas right next to the course and a short cart ride or drive away. People know Troon Golf and the consistent experience we provide at over 200 facilities around the world. So they know they’re going to be treated right when they come to Payne Stewart GC to stay and play. And I might add that we’ve received Golf Week’s #1 “Places You Can Play” rating in the State for the third straight year! We’re pretty proud of that.
TMGP: This Clubhouse is pretty much a shrine to Payne. What do you expect when the Champions Tour comes here in June?
DD: I don’t know, as we’ve just learned about the event at Johnny Morris’ Buffalo Ridge and Top of the Rock venues. But I would hope that several of Payne’s old friends such as Bobby Clampett and Peter Jacobsen would take some time before or after that event and pay us a visit. In fact, Bobby hasn’t played here since the opening/dedication several years ago so I’d hope he’d be able to come back and see how we’ve progressed.
As for the memorabilia, we have received great cooperation from Tracey Stewart and the Stewart Foundation as far as donating some very meaningful and personal items. They understand that this is probably THE place for keeping Payne’s memory alive through many of his most treasured possessions. Jim Morris, Payne’s “Godfather” after his Dad died, had a beautiful replica of the US Open Trophy made and it resides in a prominent place in one of our trophy cases. We’re pretty sure Payne would have liked that…
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