For the first time, Travis Levings has been honored by the American Junior Golf Association as the 2013 Superintendent of the Year for his work and expertise at Karsten Creek, home of The PING Invitational, in Stillwater, Okla. The event, held annually in October, features 72 of the nation’s top junior golfers competing on the home course of the Oklahoma State men’s and women’s golf teams.
Each year, the AJGA presents awards to the tournaments with the best individual hospitality, Junior-Am fundraising tournament, charitable giving and volunteer base. Awards are also given to the events with the highest media and social media participation. Finally, the AJGA recognizes the year’s most outstanding golf professional, superintendent and general manager, as well as the most improved event, best new event, best Junior All-Star tournament, best Invitational and overall tournament of the year. Awards will be presented at the J.R. “Digger” Smith Awards Banquet in Braselton, Ga., on March 8.
"I’m honored to receive this award,” Levings said. “To be chosen as Superintendent of the Year out of all those you work with is so great. We’ve been doing the tournament for eight years and it’s something we always look forward to.”
Levings began his career with Landscapes Limited out of Lincoln, Neb., before serving as the superintendent’s assistant at the Honors Course in Chattanooga, Tenn. In December of 1999, Levings was named superintendent at Karsten Creek.
“I’ve seen this property start from solid trees and grow to what it is today,” Levings said. “When I got here, there was a double-wide trailer as the pro shop. It’s been quite a ride being able to see this thing from day one. I’ve been here building the golf course, then a student on the maintenance staff and now in my 14th year as a superintendent.”
Karsten Creek is notably one of the most difficult courses on the AJGA schedule, playing at 7,388 yards for the Boys Division and 6,291 yards for the Girls Division in 2013. The undulated greens, narrow fairways and changing wind directions test a golfer’s abilities. In 2013, Levings and his team battled with Mother Nature, enduring heavy rain and high winds during the event. Despite temporary puddling on the greens, Levings’ team had the course in top-notch form for the event and it was able to withstand the brief, but strong, storm during the final round.
“Travis is one of the best superintendents we work with on a yearly basis and has been since the inception of The PING Invitational in 2006,” Tournament Director Jeremy Freyman said. “Karsten Creek is an exceptional venue and one of the most difficult on our schedule. It is always in prime condition, despite questionable weather in Oklahoma in October and this is a result of Travis’ effort and passion for this event.
“Travis has a good rapport with the AJGA staff and goes above and beyond to ensure the event’s success. This award is well deserved and I couldn’t be happier for Travis.”The PING Invitational was honored by the AJGA for three consecutive years, earning the Newcomer of the Year Award in 2006, Invitational of the Year in 2007 and Volunteer Award in 2008.
Levings and Karsten Creek will host the 2014 PING Invitational, October 10-13.