Man With a Plan

Dennis Roque has The Home Course in top shape to host the 2023 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball

by Tom Cade, Editor 

When the United States Golf Association brings the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball to The Home Course on May 13-17, they know Dennis Roque, the course’s head superintendent, will have the course ready for the national championship.   

Everyone knows it. Because that’s just how he works.

A local boy, Roque attended high school in Federal Way, Wash., then graduated from the University of Washington in 1998 with a degree in finance.  

After college, it didn’t take him too long to realize he didn’t like his career path. “It just wasn’t for me,” he recalls.   

Unmarried at the time, he spent all of his free hours playing golf. “I did whatever I could to be on the golf course, and away from my problems,” he says.  

One day he received in the mail a flyer from the Clover Park Technical College, located in Lakewood, Wash., advertising the classes they would be offering in the next term.   

For Roque, it was his “ah ha” moment.   

“On the cover of the flyer was a photo of a greenskeeper, working at a golf course,” Roque recalls. “I saw that photo, and I knew immediately what I should be doing with my life.” 

He enrolled in the classes, starting with horticulture, and never looked back.  

His first job related to turf management was with the Washington State University Research and Extension unit, and then after a six-year stint on the greens crew at Trophy Lake Golf & Casting in Port Orchard, Wash. he joined the staff at The Home Course in January 2008, taking on the role of assistant superintendent.  

Kelly Donaldson had been the head superintendent at The Home Course since before it opened (in June 2007). He mentored Roque, and when Donaldson retired, Roque was named head superintendent in October 2014.  

Roque had been the natural choice for taking over the lead role at the course. He had been instrumental in managing the maintenance crew and working with the USGA agronomy team in preparing the course for the 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links. He really proved himself during that championship, and Donaldson had given him a tremendous amount of credit for pulling off that event.  

So, no, the upcoming national championship is not the first rodeo for Roque. Along with the 2014 championship, he has prepared The Home Course for other high-profile championships such as the 2010 U.S. Amateur and the 2021 U.S. Amateur Four-Ball, as well as numerous state and regional championships and events, both amateur and professional.  

The USGA will usually do a site visit and ask for tweaks done to the course in advance of any upcoming competition. At The Home Course, with its pristine layout, there has been very little of that.  

“They usually tell us what they want the height of the rough to be, and the fairways,” Roque says. “They also have a target in mind as to what they want the speed of the greens to be.”  

Roque says he and his crew begin more than a year in advance of any national championship, to gradually prepare the course to host the finest players in the land, timing the nurturing and nudging of the layout to be at full strength at the exact moment that the first competitor tees up on the first tee of the first round.  

A humble and dedicated worker, nothing means more to Roque than his crew; he always puts them first. And they in turn work hard for him, knowing he’s right there beside them. During the peak summer season, Roque oversees a crew of 15, and two of his sons, Jalen and Luke, join his staff in the summers, with Jalen considering following in his father’s footsteps as a career.  

Despite the meticulous preparation done by Roque and his crew, his biggest challenge is always the weather. “May in the Northwest can be hit or miss with the amount of rainfall,” he says. “We never know what we’re going to get. It’s the one thing that will keep me up at night, as we get closer to the dates.” 

But given the amount of preparation he and his crew has put in, the course will undoubtedly be in top shape, no matter the weather.