Flexibility key for Ocean Course maintenance staff
KIAWAH ISLAND — A sense of humor was one of the key ingredients for the maintenance staff at the Ocean Course during the PGA Championship.
Rain, rain and more rain presented a challenge. But Ocean Course superintendent Jeff Stone joked to his crew Saturday night, “Hey, we’ve only had one rain delay.”
“But what about all the practice rounds?” somebody on the crew asked.
“This week has been pretty much on adrenaline,” Stone said Sunday. “The weather has been a challenge for us. We’ve been in rain-delay (mode) for quite a while. But those guys have kept their spirits up and and done a heck of a job getting the golf course ready for the first major championship in South Carolina.”
Stone said the course received almost a quarter-inch of rain during Saturday’s weather delay. The maintenance staff then began formulating a plan for Sunday and arrived at 3:30 a.m., riding the course and checking out the sandy areas for problems. The greens and fairways were fine, he said, with the rains percolating through the sandy substrate. After the players completed the third round Sunday morning, the maintenance crew went back out and cut the fairways again for the final round.
“Casual water? It depends on where they hit it,” Stone said. “If they hit it in a really, really bad place there might be some casual water. But inside the ropes, no.”
Stone’s staff usually numbers 25, but he had help from the other golf courses on the island and more than 30 volunteers.
“You really have to make changes on the fly, be able to adapt to what conditions are out there,” Stone said. “We’re very fortunate. We had a plan, but we also had enough flexibility to make changes quickly. Our priorities are always the greens. That’s No. 1, to make sure those are perfect.”
And that seemed to be the case. Stone said he heard one player remark that he expected to make every putt because the putting surfaces were so true.