Making history: The Ryder Cup’s first female course superintendent

Lara Arias won’t touch a club at the Ryder Cup in Rome, but she (and her fiancé) will play a huge role in the result of the biennial clash.

A trailblazer for women in golf, Lara Arias is breaking down barriers as the first female course superintendent for a Ryder Cup venue.

Over lunch at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club in Rome, she tells Today’s Golfer about her internship in Paris in 2018, the conversations she’s had with Captain Luke Donald, and how she’s one-half of a Ryder Cup power couple.

My fiancé, Alejandro Reyes, was the superintendent at Le Golf National for the Ryder Cup in 2018. I was one of the volunteers there. After Paris, we moved to Seville and I was working at Real Club Pineda when Alejandro got the call from Marco Simone. That’s when we decided to move our lives to Italy. He was hired as a consultant, so he’s here for a few days a month, whereas I’m here every day. We were hoping to get married, but we’ve been so busy with the Italian Opens and Ryder Cup that we’ve had to put it back to 2024.

I’ve worked at some really nice courses in the past. In the United States, I was at Robert Trent Jones in Virginia, Quail Hollow when it had the PGA Championship, and (TPC of) Scottsdale for the Waste Management Phoenix Open. Le Golf National as well, obviously, but this course feels more special because I saw it from the beginning.

The Marco Simone course under construction.

When we arrived here in June 2020, the golf course was totally closed and under renovation. We didn’t even have a green and we were sitting here with not many greenkeepers and not many resources. The Ryder Cup was supposed to be in 2022, so we were thinking that we had two years to do everything. Even in three years, I think that we’ve achieved quite a lot. It’s super, super cool to look back and see how far we’ve come.

My job now is to make sure people don’t make mistakes. During the Italian Open we had 35 volunteers. During the Ryder Cup we will have 100. A lot of people are talking about me because I am a female superintendent and yes, I have a huge responsibility during the Ryder Cup, but it has always been a team effort. I’m very proud of the renovation. The greens are spectacular now and the feedback we had from the players at the Italian Open was really, really, really good.

The two Ryder Cup captains with the greenkeeping team at Marco Simone Golf & Country Club.

We’ve been narrowing the fairways bit by bit. It’s very similar to what we did at Le Golf National. The concept is the same. Luke Donald and Edoardo Molinari have made some comments and have an opinion about the set-up of the golf course. They want to have thick rough because it’s much better for the Europeans and a penalty for the Americans. During the summer time in Rome we lose density, so irrigation is super important.

I can control each sprinkler head on the course, something like 2,000 of them. You don’t want to have this app on the phone. I use it more than Facebook! But it’s good because we don’t want to waste water. We want to manage the course in the best way. We say to all our members and visitors, make sure you drive your buggy on the fairway, not in the rough. We don’t want to trample it down.

Lari Arias with fiance Alejandro Reyes and designer Dave Sampson.

September in Rome sees a lot of rain and a lot of storms. But that’s why we’ve top-dressed all the fairways to make sure the course is still playable even if it rains.

The biggest challenge for the players is going to be on the greens. For example, No.7 is a super tough green. The undulations are crazy. We’ve also cut the aprons really low. Most of the approaches, like on No.11, No.17 and
No.6, are uphill, so the ball can easily run back down. You need a good short game for sure.

Between 12 and 17, there’s a vista that looks out over the top of the golf course. You can see 1, 2, 12, 13, 15 and 16. We do have a lot of mounds, which makes it a perfect spectator course. There’s going to be about 45,000 spectators each day. It’s a challenge for us, trying to move around, but the atmosphere will be just amazing.”

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About the author

Today's Golfer features editor Michael Catling.

Michael Catling
Today’s Golfer Features Editor

Michael Catling is Today’s Golfer‘s Features Editor and an award-winning journalist who specializes in golf’s Majors and Tours, including DP World, PGA, LPGA, and LIV.

Michael joined Today’s Golfer in 2016 and has traveled the world to attend the game’s biggest events and secure exclusive interviews with dozens of Major champions, including Jack Nicklaus, Jordan Spieth, Tom Watson, Greg Norman, Gary Player, and Justin Thomas.

A former member of Ufford Park and Burghley Park, Michael has been playing golf since he was 11 and currently plays off a handicap of 10.

Away from golf he’s a keen amateur chef and has his own healthy recipes website. He also loves playing squash, going to the gym, and following Chelsea FC.

Michael uses a Ping G driverPing G 3-woodPing G Crossover 3-ironPing G Series irons (4-PW), Ping Glide wedges (52º, 56º, 60º), TaylorMade MySpider Tour Putter, and Srixon AD333 golf ball.

Get in touch with Michael via email and follow him on Twitter.

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