4:55 a.m. — It's still five minutes before the scheduled start time for Friday morning's maintenance activities, but already more than half of the 120 or so members of the maintenance team are on the course. Maloney hangs back at the maintenance facility, handing out a few last-minute instructions as the remainder of the crews move out. That includes sending a member of one of his tee-mowing crews to the staff parking lot to await his coworker for the day, a straggler who isn't even officially late yet.
5:01 a.m. — With all of the crews officially on the course, Maloney grabs a bottle of water before joining them. Surprisingly, he's not a coffee drinker. "Never have liked the stuff," he says. "It's not really the taste. I just don't like drinking hot liquids in the morning."
5:07 a.m. — Before Maloney can leave the maintenance facility, two members of the transportation team wheel a pair of large "people-mover" carts into the area, with enough seating for eight. Maloney and superintendent Jim Nicol, CGCS, had discussed using the carts to ferry maintenance workers to the course in the morning and had even contacted transportation to set it up. But later, they had changed their mind and called to cancel the order. The message never made it's way to the two drivers.
Maloney calls Nicol to confirm — even though there is no one left in the maintenance area to actually ride in those at this point — then apologizes and tells them their services won't be needed. One of the driver's jots down Maloney's name just in case he hears it from his supervisor then both carts roll away. Maloney follows and finally enters the course for the first time today.
5:14 a.m. — Maloney's first order of business is to track down a backpack blower that is being used for cleanup work around the clubhouse. It's needed with one of the teams that is mowing greens this morning, and that task takes precedence over what it's currently being used for. When he finds the blower, he allows the crew member to finish his work, then takes the blower and drives it up to the practice putting green, where crews are waiting for it before they can begin their work for the day. That task completed, he rolls off toward the first green.
5:23 a.m. — The first green is already being mowed when Maloney arrives, but he wants to confirm that they're following the very specific instructions they were given before heading out this morning. Greens are being double cut and rolled, but because the first cut removes the dew from the surface of the green and makes it difficult in the dark to keep lines straight on the second cut, Maloney and Nicol have asked that greens get a quick mist from hoses in between cuts. In essence, they're adding another thin layer of dew before that second cut. Satisfied that this team is doing just that, he moves off to make a similar check of the 18th green.
5:29 a.m. — By the time Maloney reaches the 18th green, it’s already been mowed (correctly) and rolled, but there is another problem. The cup-cutting crew is having trouble locating the small painted dot that indicates that day’s hole location.
Following play each day, PGA rules officials mark the following day’s hole location on the green with a small mark of landscape paint. But they’ve been a little too discreet in using the paint this week, and the cup-cutters have struggled to find the spots in the dark. Even with flashlights and a sheet indicating exactly how the locations have been paced off, they’re still having trouble finding them.
Maloney joins the search on 18. With five sets of eyes and three flashlights, it takes almost five minutes before the spot is located. And even then, there is disagreement about whether it’s the actual spot or not. But when paced off, it checks out, so the crew gets to work and Maloney heads off toward the 10th green.
More to come tomorrow (meaning Saturday). Seriously. I'll get this whole thing done before the end of the PGA Championship. Some lost luggage on my return trip to Kansas City has really thrown me off today. My apologies.