All in the family at the Fortinet Championship

David and Kayla Walter are in action this week at Napa's Silverado Resort and Spa


Aerial view of Ghost Creek golf course
Silverado Resort and Spa Director of Agronomy David Walter and his wife Kayla, who is a teaching professional there, have quite a week as the club hosts the PGA Tour’s Fortinet Championship. Their dog Carmen also will be on hand. Photos courtesy of Kayla Walter

The Walter name is prominent every day at Silverado Resort and Spa. This week, the husband-and-wife team of David and Kayla Walter are taking it up another notch.

David, GCSAA Class A Director of Agronomy, and Kayla, an LPGA and PGA certified teaching professional, will both be instrumental as the Napa Valley, Calif., facility hosts the Fortinet Championship on the PGA Tour, which begins Thursday. The Fortinet Championship is the kickoff event for the seven-tournament FedEx Fall schedule before the tour returns to a calendar-year schedule in 2024. The tournament field includes players such as Max Homa, Justin Thomas and Ryder Cup captain Zach Johnson.

“It makes us relevant. Guys are coming here trying to earn their way into the beginning of the (2024) season. Being the first event of the fall season is new for us, and positive,” says Walter, a 16-year GCSAA member.

While he and North Course superintendent Kyle Harrigan (a seven-year GCSAA member) oversee the 7,123-yard par-72, Kayla’s duties focus on aiding the tour’s agronomic team by collecting soil moisture measurements. “One week a year I get to tell her what to do,” David says with a laugh.

The Walters settled on the West Coast after a move across the country. He was the superintendent at Potomac Shores Golf Club in Dumfries, Va., while she was at The Golf Club at Lansdowne in Lansdowne, Va. They met at a golf function and hit it off. Golf has defined their relationship professionally and personally. “He proposed to me on a trip to Pinehurst,” Kayla says.

They married in 2021 and moved the following year. They started their jobs at Silverado nearly one week apart in May 2022. 

Aerial view of Ghost Creek golf course
The Walters got married in November 2021 and moved from the East Coast to the West Coast the following year and began their jobs at Silverado.

Napa was a solid draw. “I was looking for a change. A new challenge,” says David, a native of the Cleveland area whose past experience includes an internship at Oakland Hills Golf Club in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., during the 2008 PGA Championship. “The weather is pretty hard to beat in Napa. Not to say it’s easy, but it’s different from growing grass in Northern Virginia, D.C., and the Mid-Atlantic.”

While David has been gearing up for this week’s championship, Kayla has also had a hectic summer, hosting more than 260 juniors for the facility’s golf academy. It has meant the lunches they occasionally have together have been limited, but that doesn’t dampen their enthusiasm. “We’ve learned to appreciate each other’s side of things; we understand both side of things,” says Kayla, a native of Idaho. “We are a good support system for one another, and we have a good support system here from the club.” Says David, who along with Kayla are hosting a GCSAA First Green event in October. “It’s a fun dynamic, being on the same property with her.”

Marquee events at Silverado started in the late 1960s and have featured both courses. Since 2014, the Troon facility’s North course has hosted the Open, renamed as the Safeway Open in 2016, and finally in 2021 becoming the Fortinet Championship. Past winners include Miller Barber, Johnny Miller, Fuzzy Zoeller and David Duval. The South course, overseen by 6-year GCSAA member Jeremy Sanchez, also has hosted tour events. This week the course hosts guests who can play during Fortinet’s (Fortinet is a global leader in cybersecurity) tech summit.

All this makes for a busy week at Silverado (that includes the Walters’ dog Carmen, who also serves as the course dog). For David, it’s so much more because Kayla will be right in the thick of it. “To lead a team for a PGA Tour is a dream come true type of thing,” he says, “and to have her there and share the experience makes it even better.”

Howard Richman is GCM’s associate editor.