Last week I was getting up at 3:55am and making my way out to Hazeltine National GC by 4:30am so I could start mowing tees around 5:00am. And then of course making it back to Island View mid morning to get my day of work in. Gruelling is not really how I would describe it, it was more just getting up an hour earlier then normal and going to bed a couple hours earlier then normal. We were fed well for our efforts, and the daily pass to the course with a parking permit was pretty sweet. What really topped it off though was standing inside the bleachers (that row of white shirts behind Y.E. and Tiger) to see them play 18 and watch the PGA Champion be crowned. Now that was a cool experience, and one hell of a approach shot by Mr. Yang.
All in all it was very exciting being part of the crew that prepped the golf course for the tournament. My hats off to Jim Nicol and his staff for a tremendous job getting Hazeltine ready for the PGA. Even after 6" of rain fell and washed out every one of the 117 bunkers on the golf course, it looked amazing by Monday morning of tournament week. I was paired with one member of the Hazeltine staff and together we mowed tees on holes #1, 6, 9, 11, 15, & 16. When we finished cleaning our mowers it was time for breakfast, and that was it. It took a total of 2 hours for the entire golf course to be cleaned up and mowed each morning. I didn't get a count on the number of volunteers there were helping but to give you an idea: there were 6 walk mowers for tees, 8-10 walk mowers for greens, 8 fairway mowers, 3-4 tri-plex fairway mowers, 4 walk mowers for approaches, 4 rollers with a guy cleaning up behind them each, a handful of guys stimping greens, a handful of guys changing and painting cups, I think two bunker crews of 8-10 guys each hand raking bunkers, 4 large debris blowers cleaning off tees/fairways/rough, and a bunch of other guys making sure everything was going smooth. A small army is basically what it was, and that was just in the morning. The afternoon crew did the majority of the course cleanup, more mowing, and many other odds and ends jobs.
It truly is amazing seeing what goes on behind the scenes of a major tournament, and to think this happens 4 times a year and perhaps a little scaled back every normal tournament weekend of the year! It was a great week to say the least.
And on a side note, I sprayed RoundUp on the 13th hole today. No picture needed 'cause it's still green as can be. We kept all traffic off it until 1:00pm so there would not be any tracking off the target area. When the plans for #7, 4, and 8 are more set I will pass them on to everyone...