A Q&A with Marco Simone, Co-Chair Greenkeeper

Players and captains are generally considered the stars of the Ryder Cup, but the tournament cannot be run without those who work tirelessly behind the scenes.

For the Ryder Cup, the course is as important as any player, and this year’s host Marco Simone Golf & Country Club is no different. The course, which has hosted the Italian Open four times (most recently from 2021-2023), has been in the best form of its long history over the last few years, thanks in part to Marco Simone’s co-head greenskeeper, Laura Arias.

Below is a conversation with Arias, along with co-head greenskeeper (and fiance) Alejandro Reiss, who will cover the course for the Ryder Cup in Rome, Italy later this month.

How long have you and Alejandro Reyes been leading the agriculture team at Marco Simone? Any notable stops before?

Since February 2020, Alejandro is the Director of Agriculture and I am the Supervisor. Prior to this, we were in Paris, responsible for the Lee Golf National and preparing for the 2018 Ryder Cup.

How much dialogue does your team have with the captains and respective leads of the Ryder Cup Europe and PGA of America teams regarding course layout? Length of rough, running areas around greens, etc. Is it a monthly/weekly conversation or how early are these factors discussed?

We have been in touch with the Ryder Cup, [since] The course was under construction and every year we have the Italian Open, so they visit us often. The Italian Open is very helpful in understanding golf course layout from an agronomist’s point of view.

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Image credit: Credit: Marco Simone Golf & Country Club

How much additional staff will you hire to handle the increased workload before and after the event? How does it compare to the Italian Open?

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There will be 23 greenstaff from April to September and during competition week, we aim to have 100 volunteers. That’s three times as many volunteers as the Italian Open.

What made you want to take up this job?

Tournament preparation is so special, I always say it reminds me of when I was an athlete, during tournament week you have to be the best version of yourself on the golf course, it keeps you motivated and working every day with a great goal.

My experience in the US has helped a lot in preparing tournaments like The Players at TPC Sawgrass or the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow.

What kind of grass are the tee boxes, fairways and greens? Have any of them changed since you arrived?

The tee boxes, fairways are paspalum (pure pedigree), greens are bent grass (pure variety) and tough tall fescue. No changes!

Does the time of year the cup is held affect how the grasses are maintained?

Now is the perfect time to host the Ryder Cup. The last Italian Open is a good example of what the golf course looks like during the Ryder Cup.

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Do you have a favorite hole on every nine or one that you’re most looking forward to seeing the Ryder Cup teams compete in?

My favorite holes are hole nine and hole 12, but I think hole 16 is the most spectacular. It’s a par 4 with a lake on the right, designed to create drama and a spectacular finish.

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Did you ever think you’d be preparing for a Ryder Cup course? What does this opportunity mean to you?

The Ryder Cup means a lot to us. We didn’t expect to be here, but the opportunity came in 2020. We knew it would be different because the golf course was completely renovated and had to host three Italian Opens and the Ryder Cup in three years. Challenge.

Today, as superintendent, I am very proud to be here, all the work is done in two years and I can’t wait to host the Ryder Cup.

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