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(Frank)ly, he showcased a magnificent course for Open

DIVOTS -

July 20, 2008|By TIM KOELBLE

When Fountain Head Country Club was in search of a new grounds superintendent five years ago, they knew their guy was Merrill Frank.

He was at Columbia Country Club and had plans of retirement dancing in his head.

But the lay of the land wasn't about to lose Frank just yet and it made Fountain Head all the better.

As the final group marched through the back side of Fountain Head's back nine last Wednesday in the Maryland Open, Frank was on his workhorse setting off the remotes to get water down on the course.

He had to be pushing the start buttons with a huge measure of satisfaction. Frank and his staff had masterfully put the touches on the Donald Ross-designed layout that drew nothing but rave reviews from the players in the field.

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"I heard the comments and with what I do I like to hear good comments," Frank said.

This was the fifth Maryland Open Frank had been involved with, including two at both Baltimore Country Club and Columbia Country Club.

Frank and his staff had things well in hand before a hefty rainfall hit the area on Sunday.

"We had the course right where we wanted it before the rain for speed and firmness, but it still wasn't too bad after."

This will be the final Open Frank works, and it will be the last hurrah in his career as he will say goodbye to Fountain Head at the end of the season and begin retirement with Cindy, his wife of 37 years.

The retirement comes at the end with a huge buildup of miles on the interstate.

All the while, Frank has maintained his Baltimore residence and travels 90 miles each way, usually six days during the week in the peak season. He's usually awake around 3:45 a.m. and often returns home around 10 p.m.

"The course wasn't too good when I came here, but now I'll have nice memories of the place," said Frank. "It's been fun."

Frank's replacement, Brian Gietka, was in attendance at the Open on Wednesday. Gietka comes to Fountain Head from Woodholme Country Club in Baltimore and will begin working firsthand with Frank on Monday.

Rotz gets spot in Pa. Open

Clayton Rotz, a Chambersburg grad who will be a sophomore at Louisiana State University this fall, gained a spot in the Pennsylvania Open slated for Aug. 11-13.

Rotz was the leading qualifier last week when he shot a 3-under-par 68 at The Country Club of Harrisburg to play in his first Pa. Open.

The Open is scheduled to be played at Old York Road Country Club in Spring House, Pa.

"It felt good to play like I did in the qualifier because I hadn't been playing so great up to that," said Rotz. "I had a good tournament at the Eastern Amateur in Virginia Beach and that kind of carried over."

Rotz has been working with noted teacher Wayne DeFrancesco of Woodmont Country Club in Maryland, focusing on his tee shots.

He also had a bout with sickness in his freshman year during the spring season, but has since recovered and added about 15 pounds, putting him around 160.

"I was happy with my first year (at LSU)," said Rotz, a member of the all-freshman team in the Southeastern Conference with a 74.7 scoring average.

Tim Koelble is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2024, or by email at koelble@herald-mail.com.

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