By David McPherson, PGATOUR.COM contributor
Forty-eight hours before the PGA TOUR tees off Tom Gray is “plugging away.” The fog has rolled in this morning and the seasoned superintendent hopes it stays away come Thursday.
Gray is pretty excited about this year’s event. “It will be a fun year to watch,” says the golf course superintendent at CordeValle, who has been at the California club for the past six years.
Like most of his fellow keepers of the green, the biggest challenge getting the course ready this year has been the weather. “August was really dry and just prior to the tournament we had several 100 degree days with very little humidity,” Gray said.
Mother Nature looks like she will smile down in the coming days, however, with temperatures forecast in the 60s and no rain expected.
“That’s kind of unheard of,” Gray added. “Two years ago we had three days over 100. Then last year we had rain on the Wednesday prior to the event.”
The only change CordeValle made this year was expanding and resurfacing a few of the tees. While there have been no major changes to the course, Gray decided to change one of the club’s agronomic practices.
“Our bunkers are over four acres of sand,” he explained. “Last year and the year before we power-raked the bunkers using a machine. This year we decided to hand rake all the bunkers to give the players a little bit better surfaces to play off of.
"The guys are doing a great job. … They’re a really good crew. The guys help and give their all and are so excited about producing a great product for the tournament.”
Now, all Gray needs to do is make sure everybody sets their alarms and gets in on time. “Split shifts are very demanding,” he concludes. “Last night we didn’t get out of here until 9:30 and then we were back in here at 3:30 this morning. It makes for a short night. You have to learn to sleep fast.”