By David McPherson, PGATOUR.COM contributor
Just like shaving before a big date, getting a golf course ready for a TOUR event requires extra care. You need to make sure your razor is sharp to obtain the cleanest cut.
For its big date this week, Quail Hollow Club counted on a Charlotte-based company, Jacobsen®, which has been the club’s official turf equipment supplier since the Wells Fargo Championship started in 2003.
“We look at this event as one of the majors,” said course superintendent Jeff Kent.
The fleet of more than 60 new mowers -- rough units and
trim mowers, along with more standard fairway and greens’
mowers -- help to achieve major-like conditions that include greens
Kent said are running 12.5 on the Stimpmeter. Several mechanics
from the Charlotte-based company arrived last week to assist Quail
Hollow’s head mechanic Jerry Blackwelder tweak the machines,
so they are perfectly set and cutting to the right specifications.
They also make sure there’s time to do a few dry runs with
the mowers before the TOUR arrives.
“You don’t want to go out tournament week with mowers that haven’t cut your grass,” Kent explained. “You have to knock the edge off them a bit first.”
Kent relies on a team of dedicated and experienced volunteers
(this year 85 strong) to pitch in and get Quail Hollow ready to
test the world’s best. This “all-star staff,” as
he calls it, including 28 team members and volunteers from clubs
like Muirfield, Bayhill, Pine Valley and Merion as well as staff
and interns from 50 to 60 of the Top 100 clubs.
“We reciprocate with most of the other TOUR events such as TPC Sawgrass, the U.S. Open and PGA Championship sites, East Lake and Muirfield,” he said.
What Kent loves about these additional resources is that they bring suggestions to the table to help make the next year’s event even better. “We’ve been doing this for 10 years now,” he said. “That’s 10 years of 100 guys offering ideas -- that’s about 1,000 different looks and ways to change or improve the way we do things.”
Changes made to Quail Hollow since last year are minor. On the seventh hole, the fairway was moved closer to the water, and, on No. 17, the pros will hit from a different tee.
“The biggest change is on 17,” Kent said. “We are going to use the member’s tee for the first time, which makes the green easier to receive the shot. It will be exciting for the tournament as it opens up the whole hillside behind the 16th green for spectators. The players are going to have to walk right under the crowd to go to the 17th green.”
One final interesting change viewers should notice on TV is that, for the first time, Kent’s crew will squeegee the bunker faces. “It will look like the faces are painted on,” the superintendent said.