Featured photo: Dave Delsandro literally loves the hallowed ground that is Oakmont. Photo by Lawrence Aylward.
Like many young assistant superintendents who have worked there, David Delsandro “graduated” from Oakmont Country Club in November 2010 and moved on to bigger things — he became the golf course superintendent at Nassau Country Club on Long Island in Glen Cove, New York.
The 31-year-old Delsandro had spent several years working and learning from Oakmont Superintendent John Zimmers, who he considers his mentor and good friend. Delsandro, who grew up 45 minutes from Pittsburgh, volunteered at Oakmont in 2003 for the U.S. Amateur. He then interned at the club in 2004 and 2005 before becoming Zimmers’ first assistant in 2006.
And then in 2010, like more than 30 other former Zimmers’ assistants, Delsandro had the chance to move on to Nassau and become a superintendent. But after three years at Nassua, Delsandro got a call from Zimmers, who wondered if he was interested in coming home. With the U.S. Open looming in 2016 — and recalling the thrill of hosting the U.S. Open in 2007 with Zimmers at Oakmont — Delsandro felt like he couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Oakmont created a special position for him —director of U.S. Open operations and projects.
“I’d be lying if I told you that coming back to the area didn’t have something to do with it, but first and foremost [my decision] was based on chasing the U.S. Open,” Delsandro says. “It was also the chance to work with John again, as well as the United States Golf Association and the Oakmont membership.”
Delsandro says working at Nassau was a great experience.
“It’s a great club with a lot of history and tradition,” he adds. “I learned a lot of things — personally and agronomically. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.”
Zimmers contacted Delsandro because he needed someone with Delsandro’s experience and agronomic skills to help run the crew. At the time, Zimmers found himself often tied up in meetings with various organizations, such as the Office of Homeland Security, in getting ready for the U.S. Open.
“I’m blessed to have him back,” Zimmers says. “Everybody respects Dave. He is also as smart as all get out.”
The humble Delsandro is smart all right — he graduated as valedictorian of Ringgolf High School in Monongahela, Pennsylvania, in 2002. Delsandro is also a graduate of Penn State University’s prestigious turfgrass program.
Delsandro says Zimmers is like his brother. Zimmers says Delsandro is like his brother. They share a special bond at one of the most pressure-packed clubs in the world of golf course maintenance.
“We have been in the trenches for so long that our relationship transcends work,” Delsandro says. “I’d take a bullet for John. I’m sure he would do the same for me.”
Like Zimmers, who has been Oakmont’s superintendent for 17 years, Delsandro literally loves the hallowed ground that is Oakmont.
“This property has stood the test of time for almost 115 years,” he says. “It has always been regarded as one of the truest tests of championship golf.”