• Photo Showcase: U.S. Senior Open
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LAKE ORION, Mich. — Troy Martin's handiwork is a bestseller in professional golf.
The 42-year-old Omahan owns BucketBoy Graphics, which produces yardage books of tour courses that fellow caddies consider must-buys. He's negotiating to do one for Omaha Country Club in advance of the 2013 U.S. Senior Open.
“They want one a little earlier than usual, for their members and for (Senior Open pros) who come in early to play,'' he said.
Martin is in his 10th year caddying on the Champions Tour. He's worked for Dave Stockton Sr., Jerry Pate, D.A. Weibring and currently Steve Lowery.
He launched BucketBoy in 1998 when he noticed many high-quality golf courses lacked yardage books. Those are essential for pro caddies and golfers to know exactly how far they are from the flagstick, a bunker or water hazard before playing their next stroke. On the greens, caddies must be able to read the contours.
Martin still makes his books in black-and-white for pro use while adding 3-D color books that golf shops sell as souvenirs.
It usually takes about 40 hours to map an 18-hole course. Each hole must be walked, with sprinkler heads and other features laser-measured to the front edge of the green. Greens must be measured and their contours noted. Bunkers and fringe areas also require precise calculations.
One recent book, for the Senior PGA Championship at Benton Harbor on the west side of Michigan, took 70 hours because it was a new Jack Nicklaus course. “It took more than two hours apiece to chart each green,'' Martin said.
Martin was a pro golfer playing the mini-tours before his pro caddy career started in 2003, working part time for Stockton on the Champions Tour. After three years, Stockton cut back his playing schedule and Martin lasted 12 weeks and one win with Pate, the 1976 U.S. Open champion.
“It wasn't a perfect fit for me personally,” Martin said.
He briefly went back to the mini-tours before five years with Weibring, whose biggest win with Martin was the 2008 Senior Players Championship. A year earlier, Martin missed the cut at the Cox Classic as a sponsor's exemption.
Irwin: What happened at Prairie Sands?
Remember Prairie Sands? That was to be another Sand Hills-like golf project north of Sutherland, Neb. Champions Tour star Hale Irwin, the course architect, was there for the 2001 ground-breaking ceremony, hitting golf balls and shooting at sporting clays.
The project was set to install the irrigation system, Irwin said Thursday, when construction abruptly halted several months later.
“It was going to be such a good golf course. We were so enthused,'' Irwin said. “The man behind the financing, it was like he dropped off the face of the earth. I never heard from him, I don't know if the owner ever heard from him. He just left everybody holding the bag.”
Des Moines event needs a home
Des Moines has been a stop on the Champions Tour since 2001, two years after it hosted a U.S. Senior Open, and has gotten a three-year renewal from its title sponsor, hometown Principal Financial Group. But it doesn't have a course for next year.
Glen Oaks, which hosted the tournament 11 times in the past 12 years, has said it is out for 2013. The board at Des Moines Golf and Country Club, where the Senior Open was held, next turned down taking the event.
Possibilities appear to be Wakonda Club in Des Moines, Tournament Club of Iowa in Polk City and Harvester Golf Club in Rhodes.