A trio of talent at the U.S. Women’s Open

For this week’s U.S. Women’s Open presented by ProMedica at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club in Southern Pines, N.C., David Fruchte, CGCS, depends on the three superintendents to help guide the way.


Scott Nuzum, Chris Mintmier and Cody Self
It’s all hands on deck this week for the three superintendents at Pine Needles’ courses for the U.S. Women’s presented by ProMedica at the Pine Needles course. From left: Mid Pines’ Scott Nuzum; Pine Needles’ Chris Mintmier and Southern Pines’ Cody Self. Photo by Howard Richman

If any issues arise this week on the golf course for the U.S. Women’s Open presented by ProMedica at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club that starts championship rounds Thursday, David Fruchte, CGCS, knows who to call.

Fruchte’s stable of three golf courses at Pine Needles Resort in Southern Pines, N.C. — Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club, Southern Pines Golf Club and Mid Pines Inn & Golf Club — are overseen in order by superintendents Chris Mintmier, Cody Self and Scott Nuzum. These seasoned veterans are Fruchte’s go-to guys, and their knowledge of all that is Pine Needles is more essential now than ever.

“They’re rock stars here,” Fruchte says.

With assistant Tom Stier by his side, Mintmier is well-versed on Pine Needles. He’s been there since 2014; before that, he spent two years at Mid Pines. The most recent work that Mintmier and his staff accomplished leading up to the U.S. Women’s Open was building new tee boxes and eliminating turf with native grasses. Mintmier says golfers played approximately 44,000 rounds here last year.

“This property is awesome. I don’t know if there is any place like this,” says Mintmier, noting he did not overseed in 2021 or this year (“the bermudagrass looks great,” he says). I’m proud of our guys. They’ve been working pretty hard. Sometimes nobody tells them how well they are doing. For them to get to see it (championship) when it’s on TV will be really special.”

For Self, this industry runs in the family. His great uncle, Mike Burkholder, was instrumental in advancing the profession beginning in 1941 at Fairfax, Va., Country Club. He helped found the Shenandoah Valley Turfgrass Association and served as its first president as part of his 63 years in the business. Burkholder received the Virginia GCSA President’s Award for Lifetime Service.

“He was like the coolest guy ever,” Self says. Self previously worked at Pine Needles before leaving and experiencing other golf facilities such as Sweetens Cove Golf Club in South Pittsburg, Tenn. He returned to North Carolina in July 2021 to take over at Southern Pines (his assistant there is Robert Schillawski), approximately five miles from Pine Needles. He says either place, really, is home. “They’ve got good bones at Southern Pines,” Self says, “and it’s so great for me to be here and see the evolution of Pine Needles. It’s always good to come back here.”

Nuzum, meanwhile, doesn’t have to go far to reach Pine Needles—Mid Pines is located right across the street. Entering into the industry at 35, Nuzum says he took the long way to finding his career.

“I was in Operation Desert Shield for the U.S. Navy,” says Nuzum, who previously worked in a foundry and enjoys woodworking, a practice he says is comparable to what he does now.

“You take a piece of wood and see what the end value is with it. It’s the same thing out there on the golf course,” says Nuzum.

Nuzum’s intial encounter in the industry was helping out for the 2005 U.S. Open at nearby Pinehurst No. 2. In 2018, he became superintendent at Mid Pines (his assistant is Chris Montague). Nuzum says he’s all in for any chance he gets to chip in for an event such as this at Pine Needles. “This is a unique place right here,” Nuzum says. “It’s a success story.”

Howard Richman is GCM’s associate editor.